Foreword from the President
2022 was a year of adaptive transformation and growth for the Foundation for Public Code. The international conversation among high level stakeholders about the importance of open and adaptable digital public infrastructure came into focus, and our work to build collaborative frameworks for this ecosystem of production was recognized as a critical part of the necessary process. We shared the stage at digital summits with Directors General of the European Commission, and attended high-level meetings of the ministers of digital transformation of the world’s leading economies. Building on the feedback and potential for collaboration we encountered in these contexts, we decided to begin the transformation of our organization from a membership-based association to a chapter-based international network. This allows for adaptive lateral growth internationally, more responsive and focused teams per chapter, and an umbrella organization for awareness, strategy, and international coordination.
One of the strongest inputs to our decision to move into chapters was the growing interest in the concepts and practices around public code that we experienced in the United States and Canada. We participated in project work with both Canada’s national digital services team and with the General Services Administration of the US government, as well as with networks of municipalities in both countries. While we had long been working with several European states and a cohort of participating EU municipalities, we were surprised to find the appetite for collaboratively produced digital public infrastructure was almost as strong in North America right from the start as we began conversations about the subject there. In these interactions, we also formalized a new aspect of our practice: helping build capacity in the public administrations themselves to be able to participate with technical agency in these collaborative ecosystems. To respond to this need, we began recruiting a team in North America and initiated the process of forming our first chapter outside of our Amsterdam headquarters there.
In Europe, our growing experiences led to some new understandings of the landscape in which digital public infrastructure is being created. While the products whose codebases we help steward are impactful at the municipal level, the stakeholders that understand the value of our work are often more likely to sit at the provincial or national level. We advised the European Commission on their policies around the creation of Open Source Program Offices at the national and supranational levels, and continue to work with member states on the development of their internal organizations to support public code adoption and co-creation. We’ve partnered with the UN Digital Public Goods Alliance and with University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, among others, to identify and develop potential pieces of digital public infrastructure that satisfy the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve begun work with the UK’s Government Digital Service and with the Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation to prepare large digital public service products for international replication.
Much of this work is just beginning, and our own transformation to chapters is in its initial stages, but 2022 marked a palpable change in the global awareness of the need for open public digital infrastructure. We believe that our work has and will continue to make this goal possible.
Ben Cerveny President, Foundation for Public Code 30 June 2023 — Amsterdam, Netherlands
“The Foundation for Public Code enables public-purpose software and policy that is open and collaborative.”
Achievements in 2022
2022 was a year of identifying and making critical decisions about both where and how we can most add value. This led us to decrease our involvement in codebase communities where there currently isn’t the ambition to grow internationally, add capabilities aimed at helping the public administrations we collaborate with to build capacity to participate in an ecosystem of public code co-development, and most excitingly, to start developing a North America chapter.
We continued to have one public member (Province of Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands). However, we also recognized that our current membership model isn’t suited to the work we were being asked to do, and consulted with experts on alternatives, such as transitioning from an association to a foundation. We’ll be making structural changes in 2023.
Regarding our community, we were proud to become members of the Digital Public Goods Alliance, begin collaborating with University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, and to welcome Audrey Tang to our Strategic Council.
Additionally, we continued to improve the Standard for Public Code with contributions from our community, and ran a professional organization with a strong bias towards open source tooling.
In 2022, we continued operating our professional administration, making small changes to decrease the burden and increase efficiency. We switched accountants and hired an external HR function to help us take the best possible care of our staff. This professional support was necessary as, together, we processed bereavements, COVID-19, burnout, and the birth of a baby.
In the absence of an operations coordinator, we shared operations tasks across the staff - we greatly look forward to centralizing these again with an experienced professional in 2023!
Following an investigation, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration confirmed our non-profit Public Benefit Organization status.
We plan to revisit setting up a salary framework after any change to the organization’s legal form.
In 2022, we slowed down our fundraising efforts pending our exploration of a change of organization form. We received the third installment of a three year gift from the DC Butterfield and AD Rubio Memorial Foundation, for which we’re exceptionally grateful. We were delighted by a surprise donation from the Wordpress Foundation in March.
As a public benefit organization and with the KBFUS Public Code US fund, gifts in both the Netherlands and the United States are tax deductible.
The Standard for Public Code
In 2022, we:
- launched a community-built implementation guide
- released 4 iterations, going from version 0.2.3 to 0.4.1 - including adding a new findability criterion and clarifying that policy doesn’t need to be fully translated to English, both based on community feedback
- launched a home for community translations of the Standard
- launched a simple assessment eligibility tool
- had 3 new contributors
The Standard for Public Code continued to be a recognized Digital Public Good.
The Governance Game
In September, we released version 1.0 of the Governance game. In November, we made it easier for anyone, anywhere to print their own Governance Game, and were delighted to see this put into action at the FWD50 conference.
Members and partners
Provincie Zuid-Holland continued to be a member of Foundation for Public Code association.
We’re proud to have joined the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA). The DPGA is a multi-stakeholder initiative with a mission to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in low- and middle-income countries by facilitating the discovery, development, use of, and investment in digital public goods. We support this mission by stewarding the Standard for Public Code (a recognized DPG) and being ready to provide codebase stewardship and expertise for other DPG codebases.
We’re delighted to see the ongoing growth of the OSPO Alliance, of which we’re a founding member.
Dark Matter Labs joined us as an affiliate in 2022. We were also affiliated with:
In 2022, we had 2 codebases in incubation (Signalen and OpenZaak) and one in Assessment (Omgevingsbeleid). We also worked closely with Demodam.
In January, we blogged about how international ambition is a clear signifier of the sort of codebase where our stewardship can actually add value. Being clear on this ourselves led us to dial back our involvement in Signalen and OpenZaak, while starting to explore new codebases with the right ambition on the cusp of international community growth.
The codebase stewards trialed new ways of communicating their priorities via a public weekly priorities board.
Signalen got closer to being compliant with the Standard for Public Code by meeting three more criteria. By the end of 2022, Signalen met 4 of 16 criteria.
Omgevingsbeleid made a clear statement of commitment to meet the criteria of the Standard for Public Code. In 2022 the assessment for the front end of Omgevingsbeleid was completed and published. By the end of 2022, Omgevingsbeleid met 5 of 16 criteria.
While OpenZaak met one more criterion, they got farther from being compliant with the Standard for Public Code as two other criteria were sharpened so that they are no longer met. By the end of 2022, OpenZaak met 10 of 16 criteria.
Advising, speaking engagements, and consultation
We were invited to participate in several high-level international convenings regarding the emerging policies around the co-production of digital public infrastructure. At the Tallinn Digital Summit, Foundation President Ben Cerveny shared the stage with two European Directors General to participate in a conversation around “Trusted Solutions for a Digital Society: Digital Public Goods”, and separately was interviewed ‘fireside’ by the CIO of Estonia regarding best practices in stewardship of digital goods.
At a Rockefeller Foundation Summit in Bellagio, Italy, Ben spent several days working with the leaders of national digital transformation efforts of a group of the world’s leading economies to define a strategy for international collaboration on open digital public infrastructure that resulted in commitments from the United States, United Kingdom, India, and others to attempt to bring several of their open codebases to the Standard for Public Code.
We hosted the first public code track ever at FOSDEM 2022 (watch videos of all 13 talks), and started to organize a sequel for FOSDEM 2023.
Outreach and communications
In 2022, we:
- continued to host our podcast, Let’s Talk About Public Code, featuring inspirational public code practitioners
- launched our Promising Practices in Public Code essay series, publishing 32 pieces in total, including 12 longform on LinkedIn and our blog
- crowdsourced advice on Resilience During An International Crisis — How to Build the digital Public Infrastructure of the Future
- started experimenting with Open House on Twitter Spaces
- attended 13 conferences, including giving 7 recorded talks
We held 18 community calls in 2022, covering the Foundation for Public Code, the Standard for Public Code and public pruning of the backlog of issues for the Standard for Public Code. In 2022, we temporarily stopped holding Foundation for Public Code community calls, as we found it seemed disingenuous to discuss other aspects of how we functioned while the big question of our future form was still undecided pending advice from legal experts.
In 2022, the core of our team stayed the same:
- Ben Cerveny (President, co-founder)
- Boris van Hoytema (Chief Executive, co-founder)
- Claus Mullie (Codebase Stewardship Coordinator)
- Elena Findley-de Regt (Communications Coordinator)
- Eric Herman (Lead Codebase Steward for Quality)
- Jan Ainali (Codebase Steward for Community)
- Kehinde Bademosi (Storyteller and communications editor)
We also continued working with Matthew Claudel to meet North American needs, develop communities of practice, and lay the groundwork for a North American chapter of the Foundation for Public Code.
We were delighted to welcome Audrey Tang to the Strategic Council in June 2022. Together, our strategic council consisted of:
- Audrey Tang (Digital Minister of Taiwan)
- Dan Hill (Director of Melbourne School of Design, former Director of Strategic Design, Vinnova)
- Gabriella Gómez-Mont (Principal at Experimentalista, former Chief Creative Officer of Mexico City)
- Leslie Hawthorn, chair (Senior Manager - Vertical Community Strategy, Red Hat Open Source Program Office)
Our board of directors
- Ben Cerveny (Chairman)
- Boris van Hoytema (Secretary)
- Eric Herman (Treasurer)
Board members do not receive any compensation, and did not incur any expenses for their activities.
Though we planned to recruit additional board members in 2022, we delayed until we had more clarity about the Foundation’s future legal structure, business model and governance - we didn’t feel comfortable asking new board members to join with such a vaguely defined set of responsibilities. We hope to welcome new board members in 2023 who are ready to lead us through our next major transition.
This section provides an overview of the detailed financial report that accompanies this annual report.
See the full financial report.
In 2022, the organization continued to depend on philanthropic donations. It has been the aim of the Foundation to eventually be self-supporting through the contributions of public organizations.
To prevent undue influence, all donations are un-earmarked and go into our general operating budget, in compliance with our status as a Dutch public benefit organization (ANBI).
We try to look two years ahead with our financial planning. The organization has low financial risk: it is not capital intensive (no large capital expenditures) and has no loans with regard to the organization’s assets.
The current financial situation gives the Foundation for Public Code financial security until September 2023.
As in previous years, our largest cost (and our biggest investment) is the amazing people who make our work possible. This includes their salaries, wage taxes, insurances and expenses.
Our other costs:
- Office and admin (VoIP telephony, insurance, tools, furniture for working from home, equipment and subscriptions to enable our staff to do their best work)
- Project and community costs (events, community tools, travel for conferences and meetings with the community, design, marketing and market research)
- Fundraising and membership development