- Stan Blum - TDWG Coordinator
The Process subgroup will draft new bylaws1 for TDWG, which will specify how standards are developed, documented, reviewed, revised, and approved. To the extent that the revised bylaws require changes to the organizational structure of TDWG, the Process subgroup will draft new articles of the TDWG Constitution, which will specify how the new entities are to be formed and maintained, and what their roles will be.
In addition, the Process group may draft companion documents to recommend how entities within TDWG conduct business so as to improve effectiveness and communications within and beyond TDWG.
The revised bylaws are intended to improve the speed and efficiency of standards development, as well as the quality and integration of standards.
The existing TDWG process were written before the Internet had become such a large part of scientific information management and interchange. As Internet technologies become an ever deeper part of science infrastructure, the demand for biodiversity information interchange becomes ever greater. TDWG must attract and engage more participants, become more efficient in developing high-quality and consistent standards, and improve its capacity to communicate its purposes, methods, and products to biodiversity information managers. Some of TDWG’s scaling and efficiency problems can be corrected by appropriate communication technologies, but other solutions must rely on social practice. We are revising the bylaws in order to make the desired social practices more uniform across working groups and independent of the particular person fulfilling a role.
This project to revise the TDWG process is being undertaken as part of a larger project to strengthen TDWG as a standards development organization. Several documents have been drafted to provide background for the larger effort, some of which are intended to provide background for revising the process. These documents analyze the existing process and describe the standards development processes used in larger, more modern organizations. These documents are currently at:
The most important to read are:
Issues that are likely to be addressed within this work include:
- The responsibilities of existing and new officers and organizational entities within TDWG;
- The evolution of standards along a track or lifecycle, and the criteria (triggers) for advancement
- The versioning of standards and drafts of standards
- The maintenance of “mature” standards
- The functions or requirements for an electronic repository of TDWG standards and related documents
- TDWG “officials” — anyone managing TDWG business
- TDWG members and participants
- Biodiversity information managers
- Anyone needing information about the authority behind a TDWG standard
Outcomes and outputs
- Preliminary meeting at TDWG 2005 St Petersburg (September 2005: Done)
- Draft 1 of the Process subgroup charter (November 2005: Done)
- First subgroup meeting (January 2006: Done)
- Draft of the new process documents which include
- New Constitution
- New Process
- Charter template (February 2006)
- Final version of the new process documents (April 2006)
- Approval of the new process (June 2006)
Our guiding objectives are to create a specification that is:
- Explicit enough to guarantee the quality and effectiveness of TDWG standards,
- General enough to accommodate the known variety of types of standards,
- Flexible enough to accommodate a variety of work practices that might be used or required in creating a standard, and
- Light enough not to impose undue (bureaucratic) burdens.
The work process will include the following steps:
- Examine the existing TDWG process as well as practices in similar standards organisations
- Outline new TDWG process and companion (explanatory) documents and request comments from Process Subgroup members,
- Incorporate comments and publish full draft of the new TDWG Process as well as drafts for revised Articles of TDWG Constitution, with requests for comment
- Summarize and incorporate comments
- Submit New TDWG Process to TDWG membership for approval
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bylaw [one word] as: a rule adopted by an organization chiefly for the government of its members and the regulation of its affairs. Other IT standards bodies do not refer to their standards development process as “bylaws”, but we use the term in this charter for continuity. This use does not imply a decision to continue use beyond this document. ↩