Response to WG last call, Problem Statement: Thoughts on the IETF problem statement

Robert Snively rsnively at
Fri Nov 21 17:42:13 CET 2003


You asked a very difficult question:

> You have mentioned several distinct areas of change:
> 	- formal membership
> 	- voting procedures
> 	- working group control
> Is it possible for you to indicate the relative importance of those?
> For example, if we manage to address working group control issues
> without formal membership and voting, do you think we can get close
> enough to your ideal?

I believe that there are multiple interlocking issues here.  As you can
see below, if you accept goals of scalability, improved responsiveness,
and higher productivity, then each of the areas of change contributes
in its own way.

For scalability:

	I believe that the centralized technical review process should
	become a centralized procedural review process.  That involves
	delegation of the technical excellence of a standard to the working
	and consistency with other standards to the liaison activities
	of the working group.  After the working group and the formal
	liaison groups are happy with the technical content, a final
	widely-announced public review period could pick up any other

	The meeting schedules and agendas should be modified to reflect such
	new organizational grouping. Fewer large plenaries and more
	multi-day working group level meetings could usefully accelerate the

For improved responsiveness:

	Much of the task scheduling, meeting scheduling, choice of
	teleconferencing techniques and other work procedures should
	be done principally at or near the working group level.  

For higher productivity:

	In addition to the shifting of technical responsibility to
	the working group and its liaisons, verified by a broader
	public review, the following actions can improve productivity.

	Documented minutes of meeting and teleconference discussions
	with documented records of voting actions taken would help to
	circular discussion and the reopening of resolved issues.
	To do this, voting membership and voting procedures have to
	be defined.  Letter ballots using e-mail or web-based systems
	may also be useful to promote closure of last-calls.

	Voting membership should be earned by some combination of
	nominal sliding fees and participation requirements, possibly
	by organizational affinity.  Participation should otherwise be
	completely open.  Voting on key issues should be by some sort
	of supermajority more meaningful than humming.  Resolution of 
	technical comments, including those
	coming from outside public review, should be granted 
	very high priority in the procedures.

These thoughts are not new or magical, but perhaps they can serve
as a catalyst for an even better IETF.
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