Agenda item for February SPI board meeting

Robert Brockway robert at
Sun Feb 5 01:56:09 UTC 2012

Jonathan, please add the item "Discussion of back office support" to the 
February meeting agenda.  I believe this should fall within general 
business but don't mind if you put it in another category.

My intention here is for the board to discuss this topic, not to make any 
firm decisions during this board meeting.

There is no need to post any of the material below in to the meeting 

CC:ed to spi-general so the community can discuss.

There have been informal discussions within SPI for a while about 
acquiring assistance for the day to day operations of SPI to improve 
service delivery to projects.  This is especially important considering 
that the number of associated projects has been increasing recently and 
all indications are that this is going to continue.

Two possible approaches to obtaining back office support are discussed 
here.  This discussion does not exclude the possibility that other options 

(1) Using a back office company

Numerous companies (in the US and elsewhere) provide back office support 
services.  A concern here would be obtaining a package that fitted with 
SPI's needs and was within SPI's budget.

(2) Hiring a part-time employee

Another option is to hire an office assistant on a part-time basis.  The 
office assistant could work for however many hours per week that was 
agreed with the SPI secretary (subject to upper limits set by the board). 
We may find, for example, that we only need an office assistant to work 
for 4 hours per week to achieve our aims.  The hourly rate of someone 
performing this task is likely to be quite modest.

I envision that this office assistant would report to the Secretary and
principally provide support for the Secretary and Treasurer.

An arrangement like this would ideally operate with limited commitment on 
either SPI or the office assistant to minimise liability and costs.

I expect that the work could generally be done by someone working from
home but it may make sense for the office assistant to be based close to
the treasurer or secretary for practical reasons.  The office assistant 
would probably view this work as a suppliment to their normal income.

A similar arrangement has been maintained by SAGE-AU 
( in Australia for many years.

Any such arrangement would need to be consistent with relevant US federal 
and state labor laws and would need to be discussed with SPI counsel.

Selection criteria could cover regular office assistant skills, as well as 
knowledge of FOSS principles.

There are some of my thoughts on the topic.  Comments encouraged.



Director, Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
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