A question about the role of the IESG

john.loughney at nokia.com john.loughney at nokia.com
Wed Jan 8 07:07:58 CET 2003

Hi Ran,

I have read the document before, but I just re-read it, and now I am
more confused than ever.

> <john.loughney at nokia.com> wrote:
> > I may be putting words in your mouth - tell me if they are the
> > wrong words.  It seems that you are asking how did the IESG
> > (and even, perhaps the IAB) get the powers it is currently 
> exercising.
> IAB has a published charter.  Folks ought to read that if they want
> to understand how powerless the IAB actually is. [1]
> Ran
> [1] I consider this property to mostly be a feature, as it lets
> the IAB operate with fewer non-technical interrupts than would
> otherwise be the case.

The couple of points that caused much confusion relates to how
the IAB & the IESG interworking on the following (quoting from 2850):

   (b) Architectural Oversight

   The IAB provides oversight of the architecture for the protocols and
   procedures used by the Internet. This point is expanded in Section
   2.1 below.


   (d) RFC Series and IANA

   The RFC Editor executes editorial management and publication of the
   IETF "Request for Comment" (RFC) document series, which is the
   permanent document repository of the IETF.  The RFC series
   constitutes the archival publication channel for Internet Standards
   and for other contributions by the Internet research and engineering
   community. RFCs are available free of charge to anyone via the
   Internet. The IAB must approve the appointment of an organization to
   act as RFC Editor and the general policy followed by the RFC Editor.


2.1 Architectural oversight in more detail

   A major role of the IAB is long range planning and coordination
   between different areas of IETF activity.  The IAB, both collectively
   and on an individual basis, is expected to pay attention to important
   long-term issues in the Internet, and to make sure that these issues
   are brought to the attention of the group(s) that are in a position
   to address them.  It is also expected to play a role in assuring that
   the people responsible for evolving the Internet and its technology
   are aware of the essential elements of the Internet architecture.

   IAB members pay special attention to emerging activities in the IETF
   and to "Birds of a Feather" sessions at IETF meetings.  The IAB
   assists the IESG in evaluating such activities and in determining
   whether an IETF or an IRTF group is more appropriate.  When a new
   IETF working group is proposed, the IESG will forward a preliminary
   version of the charter to the IAB for review of architectural
   consistency and integrity.  The IAB shall review these proposed
   charters and give feedback to the IESG as appropriate.

   Pursuant to the architectural oversight function, the IAB sponsors
   and organizes the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) [BCP 8].  The
   IAB reviews proposed IRTF groups.

   The IAB will convene invitational workshops to perform in-depth
   reviews of particular architectural issues.  Such reviews may include
   consideration of relevant IETF and IRTF activities, and of work in
   other organizations, and for this purpose the workshop may invite
   presentations by qualified parties on the design goals and decisions,
   technology choices, and other pertinent aspects of these activities.
   The results of such a review will be a report which may give advice
   to the IETF community and the IESG.

   The IAB may organize ad hoc bodies of independent technical experts
   to adjudicate technical disputes.

Without getting too nit-picky, it seems that there is overlap between
the IAB charter and current IESG activity.  I actually think that
the work is important; I really don't care if it is the IAB or IESG
who overseas architectural issues or provides editorial control over
IABs.  What I don't like is the fact that there is a certain indeterminism
in the current process about who executes what authority & when.

Perhaps this will be better addressed when Harald is done with the IESG
Processes draft.  I would prefer to see better scoping of both the IAB
and IESG activities.


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