\documentclass[12pt,a4paper]{book} \newcommand{\distversion}{1.0.3} \newcommand{\distdate}{10 May 2004} \newcommand{\licence}{ This document is part of the AFFS Grant Project. Copyright \copyright\ 2004 Marc Eberhard, Association for Free Software (AFFS), c/o Turo Technology LLP, 79 Sir Lewis Street, King's Lynn, GB-PE30 2AL. The copyright holder grants permission without fee and in perpetuity for all acts restricted by the copyright of this work provided that the above copyright notice and this notice are included. This work is offered on an ``as is'' basis without warranties and with all liabilities excluded, except as required by applicable law. } \usepackage[latin1]{inputenc} \usepackage[pdftex]{color} \usepackage[pdftex]{graphicx} \usepackage[pdftex]{hyperref} \parskip 0.5\baselineskip plus 0.5\baselineskip \parindent 0mm \hypersetup{ pdftitle={The AFFS Grant Project}, pdfsubject={The AFFS Grant Project}, pdfauthor={Marc Eberhard }, pdfkeywords={AFFS grants}, colorlinks=true, linkcolor=blue } \begin{document} \title{The AFFS Grant Project} \author{Marc Eberhard\\[5mm] {\small Association for Free Software (AFFS)}\\ {\small c/o Turo Technology LLP}\\ {\small 79 Sir Lewis Street}\\ {\small King's Lynn PE30 2AL}\\ {\small UK}} \date{\vfill\ \\[20mm] {\small This document refers to the AFFS Grant Project, \\ version \distversion, released \distdate.\\ The latest version is available from the project home page \url{http://www.affs.org.uk/~marc/grants/}}} \maketitle \clearpage ~ \vfill \licence Typeset with \LaTeX\ on a Debian GNU/Linux system using only free software. \clearpage \tableofcontents \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Preamble} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Preamble} \markboth{PREAMBLE}{} When Jason Clifford first mentioned his idea of using an ISP to fund free software projects, I was immediately enthusiastic about it. To ensure a fair distribution of these funds, he suggest to pay any surplus from this ISP to AFFS. Without thinking too much, I agreed, that AFFS would be happy to do this. We didn't know in the beginning if the idea would work at all and if the income from such an ISP would ever offset the initial investment made by Jason. Quite some time has passed since then and the \href{http://www.ukfsn.org.uk}{UK Free Software Network (UKFSN)} turned out to be a real success story. In October 2003 Jason wrote a first cheque over 500 to AFFS. This took us all a bit by surprise at the time and since then we are trying to solve the question on how to distribute the funds generated. We obviously want to do this in a way which is considered fair and open by at least a majority of AFFS's members. The simplest model would have been a jury which would decide how to spend the money. However, this approach does usually not result in decisions which are considered to be objective and free of personal bias. For small amounts of money this might nevertheless be a viable alternative, but we expect to grow the income continuously over the years. So it is desirable to put a system in place, which will scale well to large amounts of money right from the beginning. The goal is to distribute funds purely based on objective criteria without a personal component. We don't want this to turn into a popularity contest or something similar. This way we stand the highest chance of a fair process with equal opportunities to all applicants. We don't want applicants to be the target of flame wars on mailing lists or similar. This implies that we do need to create an environment in which we encourage applicants to submit brilliant ideas without fear of being publically attacked. Further, it should give members the opportunity to submit supportive statements for an application if they so wish. Projects ought to be goal directed with clear targets, milestones, and deliverables. Aims need to be essentially specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and timed. At the end of the project a formal report must be submitted. Only then can AFFS be held accountable and prove that the money was spent wisely. It also helps to assess the efficiency of different types of projects to further AFFS's own aims and objectives. It is clear that the decision making will never be perfect: you may have the ideal set of criteria, but quantifying the value of a project against criteria is subjective. It's likely that any two groups are going to come to reasonably similar decisions a lot of the time, though. However, like the offside rule, it's the boundary cases which will cause arguments. Each set of people is going to be subjective in different ways. As most of you know, my background as a researcher has brought me in contact with several UK and international organisations funding research. Instead of reinventing the wheel and repeating all the mistakes others have already made for us, we should rather copy existing best practice and adapt it to our particular needs. The approach taken here is such a mixture, which I believe to be a good starting point for grants to further the development and adoption of free software here in the UK. The whole selection process is a tradeoff and should be as open and transparent as possible, both to give the initiators of proposals enough feedback and to allow third parties to assess the fairness of the allocation process as a whole. However, making it entirely open and publishing all proposals when they are submitted is not the way to go. I wouldn't like to see the initial stages of the process to be public. None of the funding bodies in the UK does that for several very good reasons. The first reason is that it is obviously embarrassing to apply for something and end up being turned down in public. Nobody wants to be in that situation, thus it would act as a strong deterrent to many applicants. Second, there is always the fear that someone might steal the idea. And third, if the identity of the applicant is known to the people judging the value of a proposal, it is not clear if their recommendation would be purely based on a set of objective criteria or personal attitude towards the applicant. I thus propose a double blind scheme as it has been used successfully by many funding bodies including the \href{http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/}{Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)}. It hides both ways the identity of the applicant from referees judging the proposal as well as the identity of referees to the applicant. This way, nobody knows who has been turned down or has unsuccessfully applied. I believe this is a strong encouragement to apply. You don't loose anything if you don't get the application through. On the other hand any personal component is eliminated as the identities of the different parties involved are unknown to each other. So how does it work in detail? The application is forwarded to referees, who fill in a questionnaire about the proposal. These assessments are then forwarded to the applicant to comment on. Then a board meets at a published date and establishes a ranking order for the applications received based on the reviews and comments. The treasurer then announces funding for projects starting from the top of the list and moving downwards as long as there is money available for the particular funding round. At this stage the successful projects are announced publically. Apart from AFFS offering grants in such a way, we should at the same time try to attract funds from elsewhere to increase the amount of money available for free software projects. That way we might both be able to fund projects from money donated to us or help projects to get bids through with other agencies or organisations. A project in need of help could get free advice and support from us about which route might be the most effective one to win support. Apart from pure software development there are many other interesting bits and pieces of information, which would be useful for existing free software packages and which would greatly enhance their attractiveness for private users and enterprises. Thus the money should be spent not only to get involved in the creation of or adaption of free software to the UK, but also for UK specific data needed for these. That allows us to contribute in a well targeted manner and on whatever front it appears to be most fruitful or necessary. Grants are small at the moment, but will hopefully evolve into larger sums later. Even though it is not worth do this at the moment, it might later be a good idea to split the grant handling off into another organisation, which can be a charity. This would give us all the advantages in terms of tax savings and gift aid. Small funding requests should always go to the committee of AFFS directly to be decided at their discretion, like quick ``expenses'' type payments for conferences and similar. The remainder of this proposal details the points made here and describes the whole process in detail in a way it can be implemented. I like to stress that I consider nothing here as written in stone and I expect that we will have to make amendments as time goes by. However, I strongly believe that this is a good starting point, which should bring us onto the right track and in the right direction to fulfil the promise we made when we accepted the donations from UKFSN and --- by now --- others with hopefully many more to come! \chapter{About the Association for Free Software} %Include text from pages/about.xhtml The Association for Free Software (AFFS) is a membership organisation which promotes free software to users, business and government. Our aims work towards continuing free software for the UK and increasing public understanding of free software. The term refers to four kinds of freedom for the users of a program: \begin{itemize} \item The freedom to run the program, for any purpose; \item The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (access to the source code is a precondition for this); \item The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour; \item The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (access to the source code is a precondition for this). \end{itemize} AFFS recognises a program as free software if its users have all of these freedoms. The constitution of the Association for Free Software sets out five aims, \begin{enumerate} \item to promote and advance the knowledge, development, use and application of free software pioneered by the Free Software Foundation and others; \item to facilitate the exchange of information and views on the use and development of free software; \item to inform upon the subject of free software; \item to encourage internationalisation and localisation of free software; \item to ensure the continued legal existence of free software within the United Kingdom. \end{enumerate} The Association for free software is an unincorporated association at pre\-sent. It is controlled by its members and only acts within the terms of its constitution. The day-to-day running is coordinated by the executive officers of the AFFS committee, who are elected by the members. \chapter{Free software grants} AFFS is able to offer direct funding for free software projects. This includes the production of source code as well as other relevant tasks, such as the preparation or creation of data for existing free software applications or activities furthering the adoption of free software in the UK. In general, any activities which further the aims of AFFS are eligible for funding. Collaborations of different groups are encouraged and possible. They can submit one application jointly. As with every other organisation, AFFS's resources are unfortunately limited and it will never be able to fund all suitable projects proposed. Thus priority is given to projects that have the potential to make a real difference for the adaption of free software. Which kind of projects could this be? Let's assume that 95\% of personal computers in the UK would use the same sound card and this sound card wasn't supported by the Linux kernel at present. Lack of support for this particular piece of hardware could be considered as a ``show stopper'' for the adoption of free software in the UK and thus the development of such a driver would make a real difference. Another example would be the preparation of relevant tax (PAYE) and national insurance tables in a form suitable for use in free software accountancy applications. This could include paying an accredited high profile accountancy company to examine and approve these tables and modules. Being able to advertise free software as being certified in the same strict sense as proprietary counterparts would surely be huge step forward. Last but not least, a project that would proposed the adaption or development of missing software components to fulfil the specifications of the national curriculum for schools, colleges or universities would most certainly make it easier to promote such free software solutions to education bodies. With learners being exposed not only to proprietary software, the whole software landscape could be more balanced in a few years time. These examples all have a few very important things in common. They have clearly defined objectives, targets and outcomes of the projects against which the success of the project can be measured. The main purpose of the projects is not just the technical advancement of free software, but also the further adoption of it as a result. They make it easier to ``sell'' free software solutions to existing and new users. Thus they not only further one single aim of AFFS at a time, but a combination of several simultaneously. That's what is meant with the phrase ``making a real difference''. Projects are prioritised in terms of the expected impact they make for further adoption of free software solutions in areas with low exposure at the moment, with a particular emphasis on the UK. There is no limit on the total amount an application can bid for. But it is obviously clear that AFFS will not be able to fund projects beyond its financial capabilities or award the entire money for one funding round to a single project. As a rule of thumb, it is very unlikely that any particular project would be awarded more than 25\% of the total amount available for one round. The amount of money available for a particular round of funding will be made known along with the announcement of a prioritisation panel meeting to give applicants an idea of realistic amounts they can bid for. AFFS might issue specific calls for outline proposals from time to time, if it decides that projects around a certain topic are highly desirable. Such calls will include further details as to which proposals are sought exactly. Specific calls will always be in addition to the normal funding process. AFFS will further make the total amount of money available for each specific call known in advance. Statistics of completed and current projects are published as well as the total number of applications, the success rate, average amount bid for and average amount granted to name a few. This should allow potential applicants to assess their chances for a successful application and to provide them with further guidance in relation to realistic amounts and resources to bid for. AFFS is held accountable for the money awarded and must be able to provide details of how effective and efficient it was spent. It will publish a summary for each successful application detailing its scope, milestones and targets. Depending on the project, interim reports might be requested and published, but a final report after completion of the project will be required and published in any case. Further applications from the same project will not be considered until a satisfying final report has been received. AFFS would greatly appreciate that its support in form of a grant is properly acknowledged in the documentation and other relevant documents of the project including the grant reference number. This also applies to presentations of the project to third parties or in public and other methods of dissemination of information about the project. \chapter{The application process} To successfully submit a grant application to AFFS it is important to follow the procedure explained in this chapter. AFFS reserves the right to reject any application if these procedures are not followed properly. The main objectives of this process are to ensure a fair and reliable way to determine the projects to receive funding from AFFS. The process --- including all forms --- is run electronically through the AFFS website to the maximum possible degree. This is to ensure proper logging of all stages of an application and to provide a record both for the applicant and for AFFS members auditing the process. It allows automatic statistic collection and keeps the applicant informed of the application status. \section{Outline proposal} The first step in applying for a grant is to submit a completed outline proposal form. The form is intentionally kept very short, so that it won't take long to complete. Outline proposal forms can be submitted at any time. However, it should be taken into account that there will be a considerable amount of time needed for the whole process to complete from this stage. If an outline proposal is submitted too close to a prioritisation panel meeting, there might not be enough time to submit a full proposal and to go through the review process before the panel meeting. In this case the proposal will not be decided upon before the next panel meeting after the current one. The main purpose of the outline proposal is to provide informal feedback to the applicant about the project idea and the resources requested in comparison to the available funds. Members of the prioritisation panel will contact the applicant and advise of potential problems with the project or if it fails to meet any formal criteria set out in this document. It is hoped that it will be possible to provide applicants with a rough idea of the chances for the project to actually receive funding. The applicant can then decide if it makes sense to submit a full proposal based on the advice received from members of the prioritisation panel. AFFS will not turn applicants down at this stage for other than formal reasons. It is entirely the decision of the applicant to continue with the application at this stage or to withdraw it. \section{Full proposals} For the next stage of the application process a full proposal form needs to be submitted. The proposal must list all resources needed for the completion of the project in detail. This includes costs for staffing, equipment and other expenses. Should a grant be awarded, it will be limited to this total amount in the project proposal. No corrections to the total amount will be made for inflation or other reasons. The proposal must further outline the work to be undertaken, milestones and estimated completion dates. It must also provide criteria to assess the success or failure of a project. A brief summary of the project needs to be included. If the application is successful, this summary will be published on the AFFS website. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that no confidential information is included in this summary. No letters of support from third parties are required for a grant application. However, such letters will be taken into account and will be considered by the prioritisation panel along with the application itself. \section{Peer reviews} Once a full proposal has been received, it will be sent to referees for an assessment. If the application includes details of up to three referees, these will be contacted. In addition, AFFS will ask up to three members of AFFS or external referees to assess the application. It is important to note that the identity of the applicant will not be communicated to the referees. These will only see the body of the proposal, but no information about the identity of the applicant. This is to ensure that the assessment is purely based on the project idea and not on personal preferences towards or against any individual involved in the application. Referees are obliged to treat any information given in the proposal as strictly confidential. As soon as the completed questionnaires are received from the referees, they will be send to the applicant for comments. The identity of the referees will not be communicated to the applicant. They remain anonymous. The applicant can choose to comment on individual reviews, on the reviews in general or not at all. Any additional information provided by the applicant will be forwarded with the application and taken into account in the next step of the process. As soon as a reply is received from the applicant, the proposal will be included in the next meeting of the prioritisation panel. \section{Prioritisation panel meetings} AFFS will from time to time establish a group of referees --- the prioritisation panel --- to decide on the order of importance for funding projects based on the reviews provided by the referees, the comments from the applicant and any letters of support provided with the application. The dates of these meetings will be publically announced well in advance. The frequency of these boards depends on the actual funds available for distribution. Should the majority of the referees suggest to reject a project, the panel will consider this option and if it decides to follow the advice from the referees, it will communicate this to the applicant and exclude the proposal from the ranking process for this funding round. Depending on the advice from the referees, the panel might ask the applicant to submit a modified version of the proposal, which addresses the issues raised in the comments from the referees. All panel members must be AFFS members and will be elected according to the same rules as the executive committee. Elections can be held at the AGM or by postal ballot depending on the circumstances and should normally be held alongside elections for the executive committee. However, should need arise, the executive committee can call for elections of the prioritisation panel members at any time. Panel members must not submit applications to the AFFS free software grant scheme themselves. The decision of the board is final. There is no possibility to appeal against the decision of the board. Panel meetings and decisions must be minuted and archived. To preserve the confidentiality of the process and the persons involved, these minutes will not be made publically available. In case of a severe dispute, the executive committee can decide to appoint a commission to investigate the matter and this commission will have full access to all information held. \section{Official announcement of grants awarded} After a prioritisation panel meeting has established the order of funding for projects, the treasurer of AFFS will award grants starting from the top of the list and moving further down until he runs out of money for this particular funding round. All applicants will be informed, if their project is going to be funded or not, but no information will be provided on the ranking order or the place of any individual project in the list. The whole application process is considered to be strictly confidential up to the point a grant is awarded. At that stage, the summary provided in the successful applications and the total amount awarded for each grant are published on the AFFS website and projects are officially announced by the treasurer. The money will be made available as soon as possible to allow the projects to commence. Should a project fail to commence within six months of the grant being awarded, it will be declared void and allocated funds for this project will be made available again for future funding rounds. \section{Interim and final reports} A full report of the work actually undertaken and the achieved targets is required after the completion of the project. Depending on the scope and size of the project, interim reports might be requested when the grant is awarded. These reports will be published on the AFFS website and it is again the responsibility of the grant holder to ensure that no sensitive or confidential information is contained in these reports. This way it should be possible for everyone to verify how the money was spent and if it was a successful project. Although the details of the selection process are for good reasons confidential, the actual projects funded and the amount of money spent on them is all published. The final report shows what the project has achieved in absolute terms and relative to its original specifications. Thus AFFS gives full account how the money was spent. Failure to submit an acceptable final report for a project will result in no further proposals from the same applicant or project group being considered by the prioritisation panel until these are received. \section{Resubmission of proposals} Unfunded or rejected proposals can choose to be included again in the next round, withdrawn or resubmitted. In the last case a new peer review process is initiated. In any case the board is obliged to not take this fact into account in any way when ranking proposals. Past rejections of an application does not influence future decisions of the board concerning this application. It should be noted that selection or rejection of a project proposal does not constitute a statement of the quality or value of the project by AFFS in any way. \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Outline proposal form} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Outline proposal form} \markboth{OUTLINE PROPOSAL FORM}{} This forms should be implemented on the AFFS website for electronic submission. \begin{enumerate} \item Date of application. \item Applicant's details (joint applicants should be listed) consisting of full name, full email and postal address, telephone and fax number, date of birth. \item Title of proposed project (not to exceed 100 characters). \item Please give a summary of your proposed project describing its scope, aims and targets paying particular attention to its novelty and significance. Why is this project important? What is the current state of the project if it already exists? What is or will be your relation to the project? Please also justify the main resources. This summary should not exceed 1,000 words. \item Amount of money requested and brief description what the money would be spend on. \item Proposed starting and completion date. \item Please explain why you believe the AFFS to be best suited for the support of your proposal. This explanation should not exceed 200 words. \end{enumerate} \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Full proposal form} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Full proposal form} \markboth{FULL PROPOSAL FORM}{} This forms should be implemented on the AFFS website for electronic submission. \begin{enumerate} \item Date of application. \item Applicant's details (joint applicants should be listed) consisting of full name, full email and postal address, telephone and fax number, date of birth. \item Title of proposed project (not to exceed 100 characters). \item Summary of the project for publication on the AFFS website (not to exceed 1,000 words). \item Your personal track record. Please list past applications and their outcome. Also include any work done by you in the past or experience you have, which might be relevant to this application. Explain how you want to achieve your goals and which methods you plan to use. Which guarantee are given to deliver at the end? AFFS must be convinced that you can actually achieve the set goals with the funding provided and within the duration of the project. \item Will the funding be used for matched funding to attract further money? Will it trigger extra money to become available? Highest efficiency and effect is important. \item Describe the project in detail, including its aims, objectives, milestones, targets and time scales. Provide justification for all resources requested. This part will be the most important one to determine the importance of funding for your project (not to exceed 10,000 words). Make a good case of support for your application! \item Provide details of resources requested including exact costs with and without applicable taxes (VAT and others). For staffing costs list tax and NI contributions. \item Please name up to three referees to be contacted to assess this proposal including full contact details. We assume that you have contacted these referees and that they are happy to be contacted by AFFS. \end{enumerate} \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Referee report form} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Referee report form} \markboth{REFEREE REPORT FORM}{} This forms should be implemented on the AFFS website for electronic submission. \begin{enumerate} \item Application reference. \item Your name. \item Comment on the quality of the proposed project. \item Comment on the feasibility of the proposed methodology. How likely is this project to succeed in your opinion (in percent from 0\% to 100\%)? \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item How important is this project for the future development and adoption of free software in the UK and to further AFFS's aims in your opinion (in percent from 0\% to 100\%)? \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item Have appropriate project management plans been specified, including realistic time scales and milestones? \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item Comment on the overall management arrangements of this project in order to fulfil its objectives. \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item Do the project objectives justify the requested resources? \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item How crucial is funding from AFFS for this project to achieve its goals in your opinion (in percent from 0\% to 100\%)? \item How high is your confidence level in assessing this (choose either low, medium, high)? \item Your conclusions. Please use this space to make any comments you may wish, relating to this proposal, not made elsewhere. If you believe this proposal should be rejected, please state so here and explain why. If you believe this project should be resubmitted in amended form, please state so here and give details of what you would like to see changed for a resubmission. \end{enumerate} \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Acknowledgements} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Acknowledgements} \markboth{ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS}{} The author wishes to express his greatest appreciation for the support from other members of the Association for Free Software (AFFS). Special thanks go to Jason Clifford for bringing up the idea in the first place and for starting the \href{http://www.ukfsn.org.uk}{UK Free Software Network (UKFSN)} as a method to generate income for this fund. \cleardoublepage \chapter*{Contact info} \addcontentsline{toc}{chapter}{Contact info} \markboth{CONTACT INFO}{} Please report any problems with this document to \href{mailto:marc@affs.org.uk}{marc@affs.org.uk}. Comments and suggestions are of course also very welcome! See \url{http://www.affs.org.uk/~marc/grants/} for the latest info. You may also contact the author at: \hbox{\vbox to 4cm{\vfill\hbox to 3cm{% \hfill\includegraphics[scale=0.15]{marc.jpg}\hfill}\vfill} \vbox to 4cm{\vfill \begin{tabular}{l} Dr Marc Eberhard\\ Association for Free Software (AFFS)\\ c/o Turo Technology LLP\\ 79 Sir Lewis Street\\ King's Lynn\\ PE30 2AL\\ UK \end{tabular} \vfill}} \cleardoublepage \end{document}