[Cryptech Core] Budget, accounts payable, and NGI Trust project

Pavel Shatov meisterpaul1 at yandex.ru
Tue Feb 25 07:31:18 UTC 2020

On 20.02.2020 1:14, Rob Austein wrote:
> I'm writing on behalf of the "Cryptech Board" created as part of
> moving the project home to NLnet/Commons Conservancy.  In spite of the
> name, the board has no real authority to make decisions, we're really
> more of a liaison group to NLnet.  Real decision making still rests
> with the core team.  Hence this note.
> As some of you are all too aware, there have been some hold-ups
> paying Cryptech developers for current work.  The reason for this is
> simple: we're down to a fairly small pot of money, almost all of which
> has strings attached.
> Current status: we have a current balance of just under 77,000 EUR,
> 70,000 of which is the initial block of NGI grant money (the pot with
> strings attached).  We currently owe Pavel about 21,000 EUR, and Paul
> about 9,000 EUR, all for work done since the start of the NGI project
> and submitted for payment.  That leaves about 47,000 EUR to get the
> rest of the NGI project done.
> Assuming we tick all the boxes from the project plan, our work is
> approved as meeting what we said we'd do at the end, and we raise
> enough money from other sources to satisfy the matching requirements,
> we get about another 100,000 from NGI in September.  Not a sure thing.
> We think that all the work Pavel has been doing qualifies under the
> NGI deliverables (faster ModExp was on the plan).  The driver and
> performance test work Paul has been doing should also qualify, same
> reasoning.  The one bit of current work we're not sure about is the
> stuff Paul did to support storing wrapped keys outside the HSM: this
> is not listed explicitly in the "new SW core functionality" section of
> the etherpad notes from November, but easily could have been, given
> that it was the one missing feature ARIN said would have been a
> showstopper for them, back when they were evaluating us for their
> current HSM purchase round.  We're inclined to say it qualifies.
> Given the size of the pot, the board is hereby proposing that, for the
> duration of the NGI project or until we (somehow) obtain adequate
> funding from other sources, we do the following:
> 1. Pay the amounts currently owed.  Yes they're large compared to the
>     total size of the current pot, but the work was done in good faith
>     with the expectation of being paid, expecting developers to accept
>     a retroactive rule change does not seem fair or reasonable.
> 2. Effective immediately, we switch to a model where the remaining
>     funding is split up equally among the project goals, with the
>     understanding that if, by some miracle, achieving one of the goals
>     does not take that goal's full share, the remainder gets thrown
>     back into the pot to be shared among the other goals.  This seems
>     the least unfair way to allocate limited funding.  It's not great,
>     it just sucks less than the alternatives.  If and when we get
>     sufficient other funding, we can go back to the old rules.
>     "Effective immediately" in the previous paragraph refers to work
>     done after today.  Given that there is active work in progress, we
>     will almost certainly owe a bit more than the sums above already
>     owed to Paul and Pavel (mostly past due at this point, ouch).
> 3. 7,000 of the current 47,000 presumably comes from non-NGI sources.
>     In an ideal world, we'd spend that covering any outstanding
>     requests for payment from before the NGI project started, eg
>     anything left unpaid from work Pavel did on ModExpNG over the
>     summer.  Further, we would argue that Pavel has first call on such
>     funding, because that was what the core team agreed a year ago when
>     it became obvious that we were going to be going through a dry
>     period: core discussed work in progress and concluded that ModExpNG
>     was the most critical project in progress, and therefore should get
>     what funding we could find.
>     All that said, at this point 7,000 is a significant portion of what
>     we have left, so we would understand if core feels that we can't
>     spare it at this time.  Nevertheless, the board's recommendation is
>     that we earmark this 7,000 towards paying down whatever we still
>     owe Pavel for the period before the NGI project started.
> So now it's up to core to decide whether to adopt the above plan or
> not.  This has been dragging on for much too long, so there's some
> urgency.  In the interest of resolving this, silence will be construed
> as agreement with the above plan.
> -- Your Friendly Neighborhood Cryptech Board (Leif, Stephen, and Rob)
> _______________________________________________
> Core mailing list
> Core at cryptech.is
> https://lists.cryptech.is/listinfo/core

I wonder what the appropriate timeout for waiting for objections would be?

With best regards,
Pavel Shatov

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