Steering committee or board?

There’s a new idea floating around: creating a steering committee for Debian. I like the principle but I think we should aim for a broader change in the constitution.

I don’t think creating a new separate structure is a good idea, because in my opinion the DPL should be the steering committee. Of course a single individual can’t play that role. And in fact, this is true for almost any task that the DPL currently has to handle.

So we need to get rid of the DPL and to replace it with a board. And that board would be the steering committee and would also have the responsibilities that come currently with the DPL hat. Why?

First of all, the role of DPL is to provide a vision but most recent leaders have not been able to do that as they tend to get overwhelmed by simple administrative work. If you remove the hope to effectively lead Debian by giving that power to a committee, then you scare everybody that wanted to be DPL because it effectively become an administrative position with no interest.

Then, in recent years, the DPL position tended to become a multi-person thingie, first with the DPL team idea and this year with the 2IC (sort of a “DPL assistant”). So it looks like we’re ready to switch to a fully multi-personal leadership: one of an elected board.

And last point, since the DPL tends to be active only on internal organizational issues, for most persons he’s only working on “political” stuff and he’s not valued as contributor leading the distribution where it needs to be lead: to the next release.

That’s why I suggest that the board should be elected for an entire release with a maximum of 21 months. After each release we elect a new board and it should be in place for 18 months ideally.

Tying the term to a release seems like the right approach to me: at the beginning the board is effectively doing most of its work as steering committee (setting/approving release goals) and at the end, during the period where we’re freezing it has more time to concentrate on organizational issues.

The questions is now: how is that going to work with the release managers? Will that position become only an administrative work of low-level coordination without any influence on the whole distribution?