In February 2023, the OpenSSL project held a face-to-face meeting in Queensland, Australia, which was attended by most of the project’s full-time contractors and OMC members. Amongst other subjects, the conference aimed to identify how OpenSSL can improve its governance and better execute on its mission.
The need for transparency in all actions of the project was a key theme identified by all participants. The decisions and actions of the OpenSSL project and its committees have up until now sometimes been criticised as lacking in transparency, or been seen as having come out of nowhere. We will seek to address this and make necessary changes to this end.
Equally we noted the importance of all of our communities. Whereas we engage highly with some of our communities, such as developers on GitHub, we have often lacked proactive engagement with, or visibility into, other communities which rely on OpenSSL, whether directly or indirectly. This undermines our ability to serve those communities and risks decisions being made without input from or an appreciation of those most impacted by those decisions. As such, we intend to improve our communication and engagement with all aspects of the OpenSSL community.
Reflecting on these issues, the conference also unanimously agreed on a draft mission and values statement. This statement reflects not only our desire for greater transparency and community engagement, but our commitment to organisational independence, and to our core mission of making secure communications available to every human worldwide.
This draft mission statement reflects not where we are, but where we want to be as an organisation. Recognising that this is the first step in improving our transparency and our engagement with all of our communities, we will be seeking feedback on this draft statement before finalising it and invite open comment so as to ensure it addresses all of our communities. Once finalised, we hope to align all of our activities with this mission going forward.
Moreover, the conference agreed that the project’s existing management structure has not proven effective in furthering the project’s ends or in improving the project’s transparency and communication. In recognition of the highly productive nature of the conference, whose membership crossed ordinary committee boundaries, the project agreed to form a new Working Group to address organisational challenges and realign the project to better fulfil our mission. This Working Group will continue the effective problem-solving approach of the conference, comprising not only the members of the OMC but also the project’s full-time contractors. The OpenSSL Working Group will meet regularly to address organisational challenges and realign our actions with our agreed mission and values.
The successful and highly productive nature of the 2023 conference was universally recognised by all participants, and we look forward to holding future annual conferences.