About the Foundation for Public Code

Foundation for Public Code Vereniging Policy Plan: 2019-2022

This resource

1. Introduction

This policy plan sets out the Foundation for Public Code Vereniging’s current plan of action, as established by the board of directors.

This policy plan was adopted at the 23 August 2019 board of directors meeting and approved by the general assembly. This policy plan covers 2019-2022, but can be modified annually by the general assembly if needed.

The Foundation for Public Code Vereniging (referred to hereafter as the Foundation for Public Code or ‘the association’) was established to solve an infrastructure gap in public sector collaboration. Public organizations (like cities) are both more interested in and producing more open source software than ever before. Persuaded by open source’s advantages, public organizations then struggle to:

  • discover existing open source software that they can adopt
  • build open source software flexible enough that other public organizations can adopt it
  • support successful co-development and reuse of their software by other public organizations
  • attract a community of developers to maintain software they build

Supporting other organizations in using open public code benefits everyone, but is no single public organization’s responsibility. But public organizations have recognized that by pooling resources they can enable this for everyone. Thus the Foundation for Public Code was created to help open source projects for public organizations become successful, build sustainable communities around them and create a thriving public open source ecosystem.

We do this through ecosystem level codebase stewardship of both software and civic code (policy), enabling collaboration and re-use at scale. Codebase stewardship consists of quality auditing of source code, nurturing developer communities, strengthening marketing and product management to increase reusability, and helping public organizations and their vendors understand how they could best use public code with their existing systems. The Standard for Public Code operationalizes our mission - it provides concrete standards and best practice for how to make public code reusable, maintainable, findable and procurable.

New members of the Foundation for Public Code Vereniging must be wholly publicly owned organizations (article 4.2 of the association bylaws), benefiting all citizens and taxpayers. Public code stewarded by the Foundation for Public Code is available online for reuse by anyone anywhere, worldwide.

2. Strategy

2.1 Core principles of the Foundation for Public Code

Statutory goal

The goal of the Foundation for Public Code is “to support collective development and maintenance of public code (software and policy with a public purpose) in order to reduce risks, increase quality, reduce costs and increase sustainability” (article 3.1 of the association bylaws).

Public code stewarded by the Foundation is openly available for reuse by everyone, but only members (wholly publicly owned organizations) can determine the governance and the organization’s stewardship priorities.

The association seeks to achieve its goal by carrying out the following activities (article 3.2. of the association bylaws):

  • a. the provision of services that can increase the sustainability, quality and re-use of public code
  • b. facilitating and encouraging the sharing of existing public code between public members and other public organizations
  • c. carrying out research for the (further) development of public code
  • d. drawing attention to problems ascertained and giving advice with regard to the public code they use
  • e. everything related to or conducive to the above, all in the broadest sense

Absence of a profit motive

The Foundation for Public Code is not for profit, as is clear from the work it does and its bylaws. Article 3.4 of the Foundation for Public Code’s bylaws states that “The association expressly does not have the purpose of making a profit.”

Beneficiary of the liquidation balance

If the Foundation for Public Code’s board of directors decides to dissolve the association, the association will continue to exist for as long as is necessary to liquidate the association’s assets. Article 31.4 of the Foundation for Public Code’s bylaws state that any positive balance at the time of liquidation will be given to either:

  • a public benefit organization (ANBI) with a similar goal to the Foundation for Public Code
  • a foreign organization dedicated exclusively or nearly completely to the public benefit with a similar goal to the Foundation for Public Code

2.2 Mission

The Foundation for Public Code’s mission is “to enable public-purpose software and policy that is open and collaborative” (established in article 3.1 of the bylaws). Public-purpose software and policy stewarded by the Foundation will be available for easy, free reuse or improvement by anyone, anywhere.

The Foundation for Public Code is completely unique. There is no other organization that provides impartial codebase stewardship services designed to support public organizations collaborating with each other for the benefit of citizens and taxpayers. This distinguishes it from organizations providing open source codebase stewardship for private sector projects, from vendors selling open source software development to public organizations, and from activist groups lobbying governments to spend taxpayer money only on open source software.

Our founding principles are:

  • We are a non-profit and non-partisan organization.
  • We publish under licenses approved by the Open Source Initiative or Creative Commons licenses that do not limit commercial reuse.
  • We are controlled by our members, who are wholly publicly controlled organizations.
  • We strive to keep our membership as accessible as possible to potential members, regardless of size or location.
  • We are committed to working with other organizations (commercial or non-profit) to achieve our mission.
  • We prioritize long term sustainability and growth for the benefit of our members.
  • Our work is open by default and welcomes contributions.

Our cultural values are: open, quality, trust, community, helpful. These words signify the qualities we strive for in our activities, products, staff and resources.

The Foundation for Public Code will deliver its mission by:

  • enabling an ecosystem of Public Code software products, developed by and for public administrations to solve real problems for citizens
  • building a collaborative community of developers and public organizations, which continuously improves and maintains public code products
  • providing a certification system for software as meeting the standard set by the Foundation for Public Code
  • building a trusted brand and an awareness of the value of public code

3. Policy and plan of work

This policy plan covers the period between 2019 and 2022. We’ve divided this into three phases, each containing separate activities. We are currently on track for Phase 1.

Phase 1: Develop founding membership (2019)

The Foundation for Public Code will:

  • Build a diverse founding member base
  • Develop business cases and case study material
  • Research and develop codebase stewardship pilots with members
  • Define the value proposition for members and how we work with members
  • Organize the first conference for founding members and other interested stakeholders
  • Build organizational alignment with and between members

Phase 2: Build a scalable organization (2019-2020)

The Foundation for Public Code will:

  • Expand codebase stewardship pilot projects
  • Develop scalable operations and communications
  • Establish a clear and convincing value proposition, impact model, business cases and case studies
  • Evaluate and refine activities together with members
  • Develop a scalable business and governance model
  • Develop a growth model for the organization

Phase 3: Scale the organization (2021-2022)

The Foundation for Public Code will:

  • Provide codebase stewardship at scale
  • Grow our member base proactively
  • Engage with partners and affiliated organizations
  • Fully transfer governance of the organization from founders to members
  • Support the long term sustainability and growth of the organization for the benefit of members and public organizations worldwide

4. The assets and fundraising

4.1 Fundraising

The Foundation for Public Code’s income and assets come primarily from:

  • membership dues
  • donations and gifts

The association’s income and assets enable it to achieve its mission. In line with its mission, the Foundation for Public Code spends its income on codebase stewardship and to support the public code ecosystem.

Our current budgetary goals are to raise €3 million for phase 1 and 2, so that we can meet our expected level of expenditure. Please note that the Foundation for Public Code will not actively pursue donations and gifts and will spend no or very limited time on fundraising (not more than 5% of its budget).

4.2 Asset management

We expect membership dues will be paid at the end of each calendar year. In order to ensure the continuity of the association and its work (especially since we specifically focus on putting codebases on sustainable footing), we have a financial objective to keep enough financial reserves to find viable alternative stewardship for public code that organizations rely on. In practice we expect to not keep more than the cash equivalent of 36 months’ of projected costs in the association’s bank account.

4.3 Remuneration

Our remuneration policy states that members of the board of directors are not paid for their work as directors. A director may separately be hired and paid by the Foundation for Public Code for work carried out in a different role (for example as a manager or contractor). The Foundation for Public Code will reimburse directors for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of their role as director.

It is in our policy that remuneration in the organization will not exceed market rates.

4.4 Control of the assets

Based on the bylaws, no natural person or legal entity can dispose of the assets of the Foundation for Public Code as if such assets were their own. The board of directors (bestuur) needs the approval of the general assembly for all expenses over €500,000 (article 21.5a of the bylaws). The board of directors also needs the general assembly’s approval for loaning or borrowing over €100,000 (article 21.5b of the bylaws).

The association can be legally represented by either its full board of directors acting jointly, or any 2 members of the board of directors acting jointly (article 18.1 of the bylaws). They can also grant power of attorney to someone else.

5. Administration

The association’s financial year is the same as a calendar year, except for the first financial year which runs from 3 June 2019 to 31 December 2020. The Foundation for Public Code closes its accounts at the end of each financial year. Within 6 months after the end of a financial year, the board will produce an annual report and accounts. The annual accounts will be drawn up and signed by the board of directors (bestuur) and adopted (vastgesteld) by the general assembly (articles 26 and 27 of the association bylaws).

6. Board of directors

The members of the board of directors for the Foundation for Public Code are:

  • B. Cerveny: Chair
  • B.H. van Hoytema: Secretary
  • A.D. Schuijff: Treasurer
  • P.W. van der Does: Member of the board

7. Publication

This policy plan and the financial statement are published on the Foundation for Public Code website.