[Osmf-talk] Microgrants conflict of interest: an apology

Allan Mustard allan at mustard.net
Tue Feb 2 15:23:54 UTC 2021

Most of the Board members have no ties to the applicants.  As pointed
out below, "...Had Joost and Mikel abstained from the vote, the outcome
would not have changed," so no damage to the Foundation or community was

The applications for microgrants were vetted by a separate Microgrants
Committee, which operated independently.[1]  The Board's decisions were
based on that committee's recommendations combined with public
criteria.[2]  If anybody believes the Board acted in bad faith in its
decision, that person is welcome to raise such a belief at the next
Board meeting on February 26 during the guest comments portion of the
meeting, and it will be discussed.

[1] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Microgrants/Committee
[2] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Microgrants/Policy_Framework

On 2/2/2021 9:44 AM, Simon Poole wrote:
> Well better late than never, but naturally the damage has already been
> done given that it wasn't exactly secret that grants had gone to
> groups with close ties to the board.
> The amazing thing though, is not that there are people seeking grants
> which would cause CoIs with board members, but that such requests
> were, and continue to be, permitted applications. They should have
> never been, I will share the blame in not noticing that appropriate
> rules were missing way back, allowed in the first place.
> Simon
> Am 02.02.2021 um 13:29 schrieb Mikel Maron:
>> Hi,
>> (This email was intended to go out in October, but slipped through
>> the cracks).
>> The selections presented by the Microgrants Committee to the Board
>> was unanimously approved in bulk by the Board in our June 2020
>> meeting. That was a mistake. By voting in bulk, we overlooked
>> conflicts of interest covered by our policy [1].
>> Our former Board member Joost is on the board of OSM Belgium which
>> was awarded the Belgium Road Completion microgrant [2]. He had made
>> clear that he was close to the project, suggested by his compatriot
>> Jonathan Beliën. Joost had worked on the first concept back in 2016,
>> and remained interested in the project. He refrained from
>> participating in discussions on the topic. At the time of voting, he
>> didn’t realize there was a possible conflict of interest.
>> Mikel and his wife Erica are both cofounders and on the board of the
>> Map Kibera Trust, which was awarded the Water and Sanitation mapping
>> in Nairobi’s informal settlements microgrant [3]. Mikel did not work
>> on, nor was tracking, this proposal. When voting, it was his
>> oversight to not declare and abstain.
>> Had Joost and Mikel abstained from the vote, the outcome would not
>> have changed.
>> Joost and Mikel individually, and as resolved at the September 2020
>> Board Meeting [4] the board as a whole, want to apologize for this
>> mistake.
>> To make sure this doesn’t happen again, in the likely event of a
>> future Microgrants run:
>> * We will no longer vote in bulk if there are projects with possible
>> CoI.
>> * We are going to ask applicants to explicitly state any
>> relationships they may have with members of the Microgrant Committee
>> and the Board, reducing work on the already busy Micrgrants Committee
>> and OSMF Board.
>> - Mikel & Joost & the OSMF Board
>> [1] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Conflict_of_Interest_Policy
>> [2] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Microgrants/Microgrants_2020/Proposal/Road_Completion_project
>> [3] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Microgrants/Microgrants_2020/Proposal/Water_and_Sanitation_mapping_in_Nairobi%27s_informal_settlements
>> [4] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Board/Minutes/2020-09#Conflicts_of_Interest_disclosure
>> * Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron
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