Amendments to ZOMG and Potentially ZIP 1014

As I understand it, the Foundation’s estimate of the likely time commitment was based on the experience of its own grant committee. However, it’s become clear that the activities being undertaken by the ZOMG Committee are different to those of a normal grants committee.

There are two obvious ways to address this: increase the expected time commitment (Chris proposes quadrupling it) or look at ways to reduce the burden on the committee members.

As @holmesworcester points out, we definitely do not want to increase the time commitment to the point where we discourage good candidates, the vast majority of whom will have full-time jobs that they’re not prepared to give up in order to serve on ZOMG.

FYI, I do not believe that allowing ZOMG to hire its own staff is consistent with either the wording of - or the intent expressed by - ZIP 1014. While we could obviously change the wording to allow ZOMG to hire staff or engage contractors, it would, in effect, turn ZOMG into an independent operating entity, which is not what the Zcash Community intended when they drafted and approved ZIP 1014.

Therefore, we must look at ways to reduce the time burden. To that end, we have advertised a Communications & Ecosystem Relations Manager role, we have been interviewing candidates, and we hope to be able to announce some news on this front in the near future.

In the meantime, over the past couple of months, we have stepped up the amount of support by having our COO, Alex, join the ZOMG meetings to directly field requests for help. Examples of the increased support that has resulted include a dashboard that tracks the funds ZOMG has available to it (see the Dashboard tab), as well as providing a single view of all the grants and milestones that ZOMG has funded (see the Grants tab).

We have also taken responsibility for assessing grant milestone payout requests, with a clear policy in place to ensure that the ZOMG Committee retains control, by having the ability to take back control of any milestone payout decision, and by having the final say if the Foundation judges that a milestone payout request should be refused.

Alex has worked with ZOMG to make updates to the grant platform that will encourage applicants to submit better and more complete applications (e.g. clear milestones that can be objectively assessed), with a nudge to remind applicants to post to the forums.

Once the Communications & Ecosystems Relations role is filled, we’ll be in a position to make a step change in the support we can offer to the ZOMG Committee. For example, we’ll be able to filter new grant applications in advance of the fortnightly ZOMG meetings so that any that do not meet the Committee’s criteria can are excluded from the agenda, while the Ecosystem Relations Manager can respond to the applicant appropriately (e.g. requesting more information, prompting them to post to the forums, etc.).

As an aside, I think that, when defining those criteria, the Committee should give some consideration to what constitutes a “major grant”, as set forth in ZIP 1014 (i.e. “large scale, long term projects”). I get the impression that the amount of time required to assess a $5,000 grant application is not significantly different to that required to assess a $500,000 grant application. Filtering out grant applications that do not meet the definition of a major grant could go some way to reducing the time burden.

We’ll also be able to provide a single point of contact for grant applicants (so that ZOMG Committee members no longer have to respond to and liaise with grant applicants) and communications support (e.g. posting updates to the forums and Twitter, organising calls with existing and/or potential grant applicants, publicising the work of ZOMG and advertising the fact that funding is available in order to attract more and better grant applicants).

With that level of support, I expect that the majority of the necessary support work will be taken off the ZOMG Committee members’ hands, reducing their time commitment significantly. That will be an appropriate point to review the expected time commitment, and if it turns out that the existing estimate is still insufficient, we can address that appropriately.

For the avoidance of any doubt: I believe that we can resolve these issues without changing ZIP 1014. To my mind, these are teething issues, to be expected with any new structure of this nature. Importantly, they have not prevented ZOMG from approving over $2.4m worth of grants. It’s unfortunate that the change in leadership at the Foundation distracted us from providing more support sooner but we are making progress, and we are prepared to devote the necessary resources to close the loop.

I appreciate that there are some who are unhappy with how ZIP 1014 turned out but I do not believe that it is appropriate to use these issues as an excuse to make changes that are not inline with the Community’s intent.

We all - the Foundation, the ZOMG Committee members, and the Electric Coin Company - have a responsibility to implement what the Zash Community asked us to do - and what we agreed to do - when they approved ZIP 1014.


@Dodger Please see my proposed amendment to ZIP 1014. I believe this would allow ZOMG members to be paid and hire contractors without turning ZOMG into an independent operating company. It leaves ZF oversight in place. ZF would continue to administer and disburse all ZOMG funds, ZF approval would be required for ZOMG to hire contractors (which would be subject to an annual cap), and ZF would determine the rate at which ZOMG members are paid. More importantly, with the amendment to the ZIP, ZF would not have to utilize its own funds or employment resources to assist ZOMG. You’ve said yourself, ZF is already understaffed and is behind on a lot of its own work. Why commit your own staffing and financial resources to assist ZOMG? This amendment not only maintains the integrity of ZIP 1014, but also benefits both ZF and ZOMG. It’s a win-win.

If you sincerely believe this amendment is inconsistent with the intention of ZIP 1014, I ask that you poll ZCAP to determine if the community’s sentiment is aligned with yours.

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My personal opinion (not ZOMG perspective) is that I favor whichever personnel solution provides the support ZOMG needs without adding more work onto ZOMGs plate.

I think the idea of ZOMG being able to hire support staff is good on paper but carries some unknowns like: is ZOMG able to execute legally binding contracts for contractors since it’s not a separate entity? Who handles the ZEC accounts that pay for those contracts (ZOMG members have zero actual ZEC spend ability other than approving grants). How much of that type of hire/fire/contract/HR stuff will still need to be handled by ZF?

As it sits right now ZF is hiring staff whos stated role will encompass helping offset ZOMG workload. It’s going to take time to see if that is a good enough solution but it could work out fine. We won’t really know until the person is in thier position and a few grant/review rounds have taken place.


Thank you for your response. First off, more than anything else, my objective here is to propose a solution that will get a productive conversation going so that Chris’ comments are addressed and we’re not in the same situation one year from now where 4/5 ZOMG members don’t want to run for re-election due to “structural issues” that were (more or less) swept under the rug.

My proposal to amend ZIP 1014 is just a rough draft. The exact details would need to be hashed out between ZF and ZOMG, vetted by community members, and approved by ZCAP. However, what I wanted to accomplish was propose something that:

  • Allows ZOMG to use its own funds to adequately compensate committee members for their time.
  • Allows ZOMG to use its own funds to hire external contractors for administrative and operational support.
  • Reduces the financial and staffing burden on ZF so that they can better focus on their own organization’s activities.
  • Allows ZF to (1) maintain oversight over ZOMG and (2) remain the administrator of ZOMG’s funds
  • Does not disturb the balance of power between ZF/ECC

Some administrative tasks like “executing legally binding contracts” would still need to be handled by ZF. However, overall ZF would be less involved, and this would hopefully give ZOMG more independence and reduce some of the contention that currently exists.

Note: The ZIP 1014 amendment is necessary so that ZOMG can tap its funds for the purposes I mention above. The specifics of executing contracts, hiring/firing/HR stuff, etc. could be laid out in a policy doc separate from the amendment, which could be iterated on over time. Those provisions would not need to be explicitly stated in the ZIP amendment.

@Shawn What are your thoughts about the concerns Chris raised? What made you decide to run again vs. the other incumbents who will not run for re-election? How do you think ZOMG can be improved so that more of next year’s incumbents opt to run for another term?


Just so you know, I’m not ignoring you, I’m still in the process of getting my running post together (it’s a long one!) which I hope will answer your questions. I haven’t responded to your specific questions in different threads because I don’t want to clog up others threads with my personal opinions.


Cross-posting this from another topic, as it’s also relevant to this discussion.

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ZIP 1014 is so important to you, but didn’t see you taking responsibility on the ZIP 1014 breach thread
(maybe you addressed it in other thread maybe not)
if you could not follow zip 1014 because “you had no time to write reports”
then you could also not follow zip 1014 because “we wanted to do the right thing” (in relation to ZOMG)
or solve the issue with a fast change in the zip or something.
meanwhile its your Joker Card in every conversation

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You’re right to call this out. There does appear to be a glaring double standard between (1) ZF’s strict adherence to and literal interpretation of ZIP 1014 as it relates to ZOMG and (2) its super relaxed view of the “Transparency & Accountability” reporting requirements under ZIP 1014.

I don’t assume any ill intention here; it’s really just convenient.


Following the ZOMG call today, I have 3 priorities for future ZOMG committee members:

  1. An agreed to mechanism for gauging a suitable time commitment
  2. An agreed to mechanism for adjusting pay in-line with time commitment
  3. Staggering ZOMG elections

Unless I misinterpreted, ZF stated that they can accommodate the increase in ZOMG pay from the ZF budget, meaning ZIP 1014 wouldn’t have to be amended. If this is ZF’s preference and there are too many fears around ZOMG allocating resources to itself, I can see proceeding without a ZIP 1014 amendment. ZOMG remains reliant on ZF, and that’s okay for now – independence can be discussed further down the road, if necessary, by a more established ZOMG.

As for deciding the time commitment and pay, this is tricky if not done now. If I were running again, I’d want to know before running. On the other hand, it may be the time commitment in the 2nd year of ZOMG is much less than the 1st year, and so we could allow ZOMG #2 to decide on its pay 2-3 months into its term. A problem there is they have a vested interest in making their time commitment and pay as high as possible… but alas, trust in parts of this process is inevitable.

As for staggering elections, we need to offset re-elections somehow to help the ZOMG maintain continuity of knowledge and execution. It could be that 2 of the 5 ZOMG members run for 18-month seats, and then 3 of 5 run for 12-month seats. From this election forward, all seats would then be for 12-months. Another option would be to have 2 of the 5 run for 6-month seats now.


Maybe incumbents who might not run, might do so if their term was shortened to 6 months?

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Agreed. Can negotiations for comp be a sealed part of the interview process? So the identity and comp of candidate is known and accepted before the election but not publicly disclosed until after the election? and then maybe only as total for all candidates?

@Dodger’s analysis and suggestions above sound eminently reasonable to me. They match my understanding of a key part of the problem, and they offer a practical way forward that addresses the most urgent issues with minimal fanfare and maximal impact.

I would just add that we do need to stagger the elections (even if it means more frequent ZCAP polls to keep durations reasonable). And I think that would require an amendment of ZIP 1014.

Actually I do have a reservation:

For example, we’ll be able to filter new grant applications in advance of the fortnightly ZOMG meetings so that any that do not meet the Committee’s criteria can are excluded from the agenda, while the Ecosystem Relations Manager can respond to the applicant appropriately (e.g. requesting more information, prompting them to post to the forums, etc.).
Filtering out grant applications that do not meet the definition of a major grant could go some way to reducing the time burden.

I don’t like putting ZF as a filter to ZOMG, which could hypothetically create some undue bias or influence on ZOMG’s decisions (assuming they don’t have time to double-check the filter, which is the whole point). It would be better if applicants self-selected for ZOMG consideration, guided by clear-enough criteria (e.g., thresholds on dollar amounts or duration). Is this realistic?

And on related note: we also need more clarity on how to get a ZF grant that is not major and does not go through ZOMG. What’s the current process and should it be improved?


(Not speaking for ECC.)

A huge part of the cause of this mess seems to have been ZF’s grant programme being suspended without explanation. When that started I think we all expected it to be a short-term thing due to temporary lack of resources. What happened?


Why do you think the fact that ZF’s grants program is quiescent is “a huge part of this mess”?

I want to highlight something in what I originally wrote:

The idea is that the Committee would decide what the criteria are, and we can filter based on those criteria, while keeping the Committee in the loop regarding any applications which haven’t (yet) met the hurdle. The Foundation would not unilaterally reject a major grant application - it would be more a case of informing the Committee that “There’s a grant application that doesn’t meet the criteria for these reasons. They’ve had an opportunity to resolve the issues but it’s still not up to scratch”.

The final decision would always rest with the Committee.


This was a silly mistake on my end. For some reason I kept seeing this as 20 hours per week and not 5 hours per week. 5 hours per week / 20 per month is totally a safe estimate and would not exclude folks with full time jobs.

Still, it might be too much for some people we want to attract, and I think the right person could potentially contribute a lot to the committee on 5 hours per month.

So I still think we should welcome people who can only spend 5 hours per month and that the 20 hours per month should be a ceiling and not a floor. But I don’t feel too strongly about this.

(emphasis mine)

Everyone here probably agrees in abstract terms that it’s not appropriate to rush making changes, but I don’t think what’s being proposed by @cburniske and @aquietinvestor should be seen as rushing.

ZOMG took some time to identify these problems and discuss them internally. @cburniske took some time to write them up. We’re taking some time to discuss proposed language here, in a public process, and if this language went on the ballot, ZCAP voters would have a few weeks to discuss them.

One of the changes, pay people for up to 5 hours per week instead of up to 1.5, is a pretty small and probably uncontroversial adjustment. Some ZOMG members didn’t take compensation at all, and many will likely not spend 5 hours each and every week, so the increase could be much less than the theoretical maximum of 4x.

And the other change, allowing the ZOMG to use its funds to hire support staff at market rates determined by ZF, is something we’re currently already doing, except that the money is coming out of ZF’s budget instead of ZOMG’s budget, and ZF ran the hiring process instead of ZOMG (though ZOMG is likely to accept ZF’s help in running the hiring process as long as it seems like it’s going well.)

Neither of these seem like big changes. And voting on them in this cycle would certainly not be a rush.

And if the voters feel it’s a rush, or they aren’t convinced that these changes are a good idea, that’s that and they won’t happen.

I can see where @Dodger wants to say “let’s try the existing ZF-based solutions now before changing the ZIP,” but usually when there’s a process problem it makes sense to open up parallel tracks to solving it rather than trying to solve it serially. This is especially true when one of the solutions is naturally bound to an annual election cycle. If the ZF-based steps don’t work for whatever reason, we don’t want ZOMG to be stuck in the same situation until next year, without enough capacity to increase the flow of qualified applicants, or verify that the work of existing grantees was executed well. Things move too fast in the crypto space to spend a year without the capacity to do outreach well, and community trust is too important to go another year without the capacity to do milestone review well.

I actually think it’s likely that the steps ZF has taken will address these capacity problems, and that the new people joining will be awesome, but I think it’s overconfident to be 100% sure that this will be the case. There’s always risk associated with new hires, and it’s a tricky management situation where the new hires will be receiving requests from ZOMG, ZF, and potentially different people within those organizations. In the case where it doesn’t work out, I believe the community will be best served by giving ZOMG the power to fix the situation themselves. Voting this year on the proposal from @aquietinvestor does that. In @Dodger’s proposal, ZOMG would have to work through ZF to address the problem, propose a ZIP for voting next year, or wait until the next election. In this case such a delay would be harmful, so it’s better to give the ZOMG power to do this now.

UPDATE: I posted a broken-down estimate of my own ZOMG hours here, if anyone is interested. It worked out (awkwardly) to 20 hours/month: Notes on time commitments for ZOMG members


@Dodger is it ZF’s opinion that stagger the elections in the way Chris proposes would require changes to the ZIP? If so, can you propose language that you would support? If not, can we simply declare this to be true now?

Staggering elections is a really easy win for ZOMG, and will likely help with ZOMG diversity too. We really should do this now.

(Staggering is a limited but straightforward way to give ZCAP who have a preference over the collective composition of the committee a way to express that preference.)


I’ve requested that the current ZOMG Committee members provide a breakdown of the time they currently spend on ZOMG business (which Holmes and Chris have published here). Once we have that information from everyone, we can review it and figure out what makes sense going forward (bearing in mind that some of the tasks/work may be delegated to the Ecosystem Relations Manager when they start in October).

The Foundation originally based the $500 per month compensation on the assumption of five hours per month, at a rate of $100 USD per hour. This rate was based on the fair-market value of a non-technical executive at a non-profit with a yearly budget of $5 million USD a year (which doesn’t appear to have changed much since last August).

If we increase the expected time commitment, the compensation could similarly increase.

I’m glad that you’ve raised this because, to my mind, it’s a very significant conflict of interest, which is exacerbated if members are seeking to expand the scope of ZOMG beyond that defined in ZIP 1014.

I was actually mulling this over the weekend. The ZIP states that “Major Grant Review Committee members SHALL have a one-year term and MAY sit for reelection.”

It does not mandate that the committee members’ terms be synchronous (i.e. start and end at the same time), and it also doesn’t specify how resignations are handled. When SJL resigned, ZF and ECC agreed that, in the interest of continuity, it made sense to go to the person with the next-highest number of votes but, with sufficient notice, we could just as easily stage another ZCAP vote to fill a vacancy (or vacancies).

So, to my mind, one option would be for two members of the next ZOMG committee to resign, effective mid-May (i.e. six months into their term). We could then hold another election (in which they could stand for re-election), after which, we would have three members’ terms expiring in November, and two members’ terms expiring in May.

This is just an idea. It would rely on the current set of candidates agreeing to the plan, and then drawing straws around March next year, to select the two resignees.

I would want to hear ECC’s (as the other key party to ZIP 1014; ping @zooko) and @tromer’s (as a significant contributor) reactions to this plan before we could agree that it’s viable.


Nice kludge! Sounds good-enough as band-aid until ZIP 1014 is properly amended.