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This governance document provides a framework for the organization, decision making, and essential values of the biocommons community. The Steering Committee (defined below) will refine and maintain this document in order to serve the objectives of the biocommons community.


The goal of the biocommons community is to accelerate research, promote data sharing, and improve human health by collaborating on interoperable, high-quality, bioinformatics software and data for sequence variant interpretation, and to foster a community that develops these tools.

Values and Norms#

The biocommons community is founded on shared values and norms. We use minimal organizational structures necessary to promote the mission.


Members of the biocommons are individuals who 1) actively contribute to the overall community and 2) uphold our contribution guidelines, our code of conduct, and values and norms. Contributions include activities that further the mission, such as writing documentation, providing technical assistance in forums, triaging issues, managing projects, providing logistics support, and, of course, coding.

Members who violate biocommons our code of conduct may be suspended from participation in the biocommons, including leadership positions.

biocommons membership applies to individuals; there is no mechanism for membership by institutions or organizations.

Organizational Needs and Teams#

The biocommons organization has the following structure:

  • The Executive Director oversees the Steering Committee and is generally responsible for overall biocommons operations.
  • The Steering Committee provides general administrative oversight for the biocommons community.
  • The Maintainers plan and coordinate development activities within and across projects, consistent with biocommons architectural directions.

Executive Director#

Reece Hart is the initial Executive Director. The Steering Committee will help define this role and the mechanism and frequency for selecting subsequent Executive Directors.

Steering Committee#

The Steering Committee is comprised of the Executive Director and other members who are invited by the Executive Director. Decisions in the Steering Committee are made by the Executive Director with input from Steering Committee members. The Steering Committee is expected to meet every 3 months.

The Steering Committee:

  • Is resposible for fostering a healthy organization, including promoting events, engaging with the scientific community, and enforcing our code of conduct.
  • Updates this governance document and resolves questions about its interpretation.
  • Selects leaders for project teams.
  • Receives and responds to issues regarding membership and breaches of community standards.
  • Makes project-wide techinical decisions in order to foster consisitency and interoperability.
  • Establishes coding guidelines and standards in order maximize the utility of biocommons software and data.
  • Participates in code reviews as requested.
  • Arranges technical and systems administration support, such as AWS infrastructure and web site development.

Project Teams#

Project Teams are responsible for planning and coordinating development activities within their projects. A project typically corresponds to one or more related source code repositories.

Project Teams should have at least two Project Leads, appointed by the Steering Committee. The Project Leaders are the primary maintainers of the relevant repositories. Project Leaders are nominated by the Steering Committee based on recognized domain expertise and sustained contribution to the biocommons. Project Leaders are expected to ensure that project repositories are managed consistent with the overall biocommons contribution guidelines.

Other Teams and Roles#

The Steering Committee may identify and create additional roles and teams as needed, such as project management, documentation, testing, technical support, logistics, AWS infrastructure management, GitHub account management, and web site support.