Ideas for Governance Model

As discussed at this thread, we are trying to come up with a Governance Model for OpenMRS.

@michael has been the one who started all of this and have lots of ideas in how we can set up a Governance Model. Also, part of the Governance Model is already built. So we need to have a good understanding in what is the current state of the OpenMRS Governance Model (which @michael has already clarifed in the above thread) and also what are the next steps.

@michael can you clarify a little bit what would be the next steps? @burke do you also have any ideas of what could be the next steps?


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Hi @marioareias - thanks so much for this thread! As I mentioned in the e-mail that you linked to, I think governance is a really important thing for us to figure out and communicate, because (among other reasons):

  1. It helps us scale up to make more good decisions, faster, and as a result be more responsive to OpenMRS customers.
  2. It helps new contributors understand where they fit in among the “big picture” and helps them understand how work gets prioritized, delegated, and shared.

As mentioned, I helped create a model at that describes one potential idea for how we could structure our project and communicate its organization. When I created this model, I thought it was a good one for us because:

  • It can describe the relationship between the board of OpenMRS1, Limited (the current name of the non-profit organization that helps support the project) and its management team, to the volunteer OpenMRS project/community itself.
  • It creates a people-powered decision-making process for both engineering decisions and community-based decisions, and balances meritocracy with democracy. In this model, both the technical council and community council are voted on by the community itself.
  • It creates a framework for many small work teams to work on various projects within the community. These teams can be domain-focused (such as terminology, UI/UX, etc.) or technology project-focused (OpenMRS 2.0, Modulus, NoSQL, etc.). Teams can be created, hibernated, or changed very easily to support the needs of the OpenMRS community.

This model takes its aspects from various other free and open source projects such as the ones you described in your e-mail, but is probably most similar to Ubuntu.

How would we get to a model like this? Many of the components are actually already in place:

  1. We already have several informal “teams” formed, some with natural “un-named” leaders (e.g., QA/testing, OpenMRS 2.0) and some with more explicit leaders (e.g., terminology). More could be created and documented.
  2. The board of OpenMRS1, Limited is already formed and meeting. There are currently no employees of the organization, but there is an (unpaid) Executive Director and “benevolent dictator” or project leader (both currently performed by @paul) and I am compensated for my time by the organization for serving as community manager. We also have a head of engineering, @burke.
  3. The councils are not yet formed “formally” but there is a project management group that meets each week which is functioning very much like the technical council I described. However the members are not publicly “appointed” per se, and the group doesn’t operate in public yet unfortunately. This could be changed, though. :smile:
  4. There is not a community council but I think this could come together quickly as we have a handful of people working on community-type non-technical issues such as GSoC, mentoring, events, etc. Those people might be suitable for the council or there may be others interested. It would be just a matter of forming the group and appointing/voting on the members.

So I think ultimately it’s a matter of “buy-in” to a model like this (or another alternative!) and then if we have the feeling that this is something the community wants and needs, we can move forward under the direction of the project leader to start the process, and document it as we go. We have the technical infrastructure in place to support all of this, but we now just need the people infrastructure. :smile:

What do others think about this model? Or what others have you seen that you liked? I’m definitely open to ideas (and even have a few of my own to update the model I did in 2012)!