Historically, community spend proposals on the Hub have assigned a multisig of well-known community members to safeguard the funds and ensure that the funded team is subject to oversight by a third party. Between analysis of past spend proposals and Elijah’s thoughts on the future of the Cosmos Hub, there has been much discussion of governance and oversight structures on the Hub, with lots of emphasis on accountability for community-funded work. This idea was developed through conversation with @uditvira, @jtremback, and @ala.tusz.am on the state of current Hub oversight measures.
There are many technical improvements that can be made to governance tooling on the Cosmos Hub, but new tooling takes time. In the absence of new technical developments, this spec puts forward an improvement to the current models (e.g multisig committees which must act to release funds) that can be made with no technical changes.
The critical aspect of this proposed method is not a technical change – it’s the acknowledgement that the community is the ultimate decision maker.
In this short spec that follows, you’ll see two terms often:
- Performer, referring to the one doing the work.
- Customer, referring to the one who holds the performer responsible for doing that work, because it solves a need held by the customer.
These terms make the assumption that the customer is able to act as a single, coherent body. But this is not the case, because the customer of a community spend proposal is the entire network – with its varied viewpoints and all.
We propose that an oversight committee’s role is to help this decentralized customer make sense of the performer’s work, and thus empower the customer to make good decisions about the continued funding of the performer, not to make decisions that overrule the customer.
The community spend proposal can be seen as two things simultaneously:
- An agreement by the customer to fund the performer, and
- An approval of the proposed committee that will act as a bridge and sense-maker.
Both the customer and performer must have a part in selecting the oversight committee: The performer nominates them, and the customer approves them via governance.
In this model, the community’s initial funding decision is made by approving the community spend proposal in its entirety, and that decision is upheld via a funding mechanism that continues unless action is taken to halt it. In the same way that an optimistic proposal passes unless vetoed, funds will be released to the performer unless the community dissolves the workstream.
A simple version of the specification can be found below:
The oversight committee is built around five principles from which the purpose and scope are derived. These principles apply only to the committee structure outlined in this specification.
- The funding release format is optimistic and assumes that the working group will continuously perform at an acceptable standard. Funding is released via vesting, and requires active intervention to suspend still-vesting tokens rather than approve their release
- It is not scalable for the entire community to make sense of available information to the extent necessary to make good decisions for all community-funded workstreams.
- The community’s powers should not be diminished just because it cannot make sense of everything; rather, sense-making should be prioritized as a way to help the community make decisions.
- The committee acts as a sensor that provides information for the community’s decision-making abilities and, as such, it is an extension of the community.
- At all times, both the community and committee have the capacity to dissolve the working group and return still-vesting funds to the community pool.
The oversight committee exists to oversee, advise, and guide both performers and customers in regards to the specified work throughout the funding period.
The committee has the same powers as the community in that it can dissolve the workstream via an on-chain vote, however it has more credibility in its decision to raise such a proposal because of its proximity to the work that’s being done.
The committee represents various stakeholder groups in the community that are equipped to
- Understand the performer’s work and its impacts, and
- Act as a bridge between the customer and the performer.
With these things in mind, the oversight committee will:
- provide oversight to the performer.
- report to the community in order to provide insight and awareness about the impact and quality of work performed, and facilitate a feedback loop between the customers and the performers.
The oversight committee will not:
- act as a body overseeing any other ratified workstreams. Other community pool funded efforts are out of scope, and may have their own committees or other accountability structures.
- be ultimately responsible for the work completed by the performer. They are a check on the performer’s work – but they are not responsible (in the sense of a manager) for the work being done.
- act as a lasting governing body. The committee’s membership, together with the performers’, is put in place by governance approving the proposal and will only act as such until the term of the proposal is completed.
- Ratification: The proposal passes via on-chain governance, which both funds the performer and approves the committee named in the proposal.
- Funding: The funds are released into a vesting wallet controlled by the performer. (Technical details for this step are included in the footnotes.)
- Dissolution and return of funds: At any time, the committee or the community can raise a proposal to dissolve the workstream and return the vesting funds from the vesting wallet to the community pool.
The above is just a brief overview of the committee, and may seem obvious. Still, it’s worth stating again: the network has, and always should have, the ultimate veto power for anything happening in relation to the network. This is in alignment with the principles which govern the blockchain.
Any time the community grants authority and funding to a performer, the community must also have the capacity to dissolve that authority and funding if necessary. In this proposed model, the approval of the community spend proposal continues until the community acts to stop it.
In other oversight structures such as an unvested multisig, a small group’s continuous approval is needed to uphold the community’s original decision, and the multisig itself becomes unanswerable to the community as a whole.
Although the vesting and accountability tweaks to the current multisig model might seem trivial, they represent a dramatically different approach to accountability in funding by acknowledging this core truth:
The network should always have the ultimate authority and it is vital to help the network make sense of what is happening so that it can exercise that authority effectively.