How are decisions being made?

Inasmuch as this is an open source initiative, a simple rule of thumb is rough consensus and running code.

That said, because this is a complex problem (involving private and public sectors; spanning local, state, and federal boundaries, with many layers of technology that are rapidly changing) our approach to discovering solutions should also be complex. So the Open Referral Initiative entails various levels at which different kinds of decisions are being made by different kinds of participants. One way to describe this is ‘polycentricity’read more about what we mean by that here.

At its simplest, our structure includes two levels: 1) ‘pilot projects’ in which local stakeholders work together to answer the question of ‘How can we build a future in which community resource directory data is accessible, interoperable, reliable, and sustainably produced?’ and 2) a ‘Working Group’ that stewards the development of the Open Referral format that is used by the pilots, along with associated tools and materials, and the process itself.

(Each of these is more complex upon examination: the San Francisco Bay pilot has multiple county-level groups working semi-autonomously; we also have subdomain-specific working groups for particular kinds of services like legal services.)

These two levels intersect in three ways: in our Community forum, during regular Assemblies (video chats open to all participants — see an archive here), and during our semi-formal Workshops (multi-day in-person convenings — see this 2014 reportback here).

You can read more about the pilot projects here, and the working group and its governance process here. These proposals are subject to change (read here for changes made in the first cycle), as in the course of each development cycle they will be reviewed by the Working Group and interested members of the community, and subject to revision.


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