These are questions that we asked ourselves when putting together our ideas for GIPO. As we were part of the feasibility study team too, we have already had the chance to think about these issues, including potential structures for a governance structure to manage the tool. The European Commission had asked for an Advisory Group to be established as part of the project, and we agreed with this. We have set out a framework for an Advisory Group (AG) that we think will help address the questions posed above. Let us know if this needs fine tuning, as we are in the early stages right now (you can comment below or send us a message).
In a nutshell, the AG will carry out three different tasks.
Its independence is important to us: we think members should be free to choose topics for discussion and able to provide any sort of input related to the project. Trisha Meyer and myself will provide support for the secretariat; the European Commission and the GIPO team will be involved, but not directing substantive issues. In effect, the AG is established to enhance use of the tool by the community, by advising on specific sources of information and particular technological choices.
First of all, it shall be up to the AG to decide on its internal functioning. This means that we - as the AG secretariat - have no preconceived requirements as to how the AG should interact. Obviously, we do have some ideas of what it should look like and will propose these in our first meeting. For example, according to the contract signed with the European Commission, we have a requirement to meet every two months. We suggest that this should be flexibly interpreted: it is best to maintain regular communication channels that can be ‘activated’ at key moments, rather than ‘forced’ at fixed moments. Email shall be the primary mode of communication for the AG. Secondly, the AG can act upon consultation by the services of the European Commission or the GIPO team, or issue its own non-binding advice without a prior request. No legally binding commitment will be required from AG members vis-à-vis their tasks in the AG (i.e. no contract will be signed). We will make a public announcement of the AG members when they are appointed. When meetings (online or offline) take place, both the agenda and the minutes will be made available to the public via the GIPO portal.
Members of the group will have specific expertise - at the moment we think a focus on two areas is sufficient: community building (both publicising the tool, and providing new sources of information) and technical expertise (to validate our technical choices for the tool). In a few months, we hope to have twelve members. We are currently phasing in members gradually: so far Prof. dr. Tom van Engers (University of Amsterdam) and Daniel Dardailler (W3C) have agreed to participate. It is envisaged that the European Commission will invite eight members, with the remainder being nominated through an open process. We are keen to ensure fair geographic and gender representation in the group. Each Advisory Group member will remain in place for one year after taking up the position, with renewal possible.
We are very excited to be a part of the process for GIPO, and look forward to seeing the Advisory Group providing a fruitful contribution to the evolution of the tool!