Trusting the IESG to manage the reform process (was: Re: Doing the Right Things?)

John C Klensin john-ietf at
Mon Jun 2 16:29:44 CEST 2003

Summary: If we can't trust the current IESG for reform-process 
management, we are in deep trouble.  If we are in that much 
trouble, we should be postponing the little issues because we 
need to be looking at very fundamental change, starting with 
discarding the nomcom process and starting over on our selection 
processes.   I don't believe that is that case, and don't 
believe that the view that it is the case is generally held in 
the community, but it is probably time to face the question.


In writing the note about an accelerated process, I realized 
I've been making an assumption that needs a bit of explanation. 
Several of the issues here, and what processes might and might 
not work, are ultimately about whether or not IESG is completely 
broken and/or in some "us versus them" mode that implies we 
can't trust them with much of anything, especially anything 
involving reform or evolution.

There are clearly people in the community who believe that the 
current IESG has formed a closed circle, developed a "them 
against us" mentality, and cannot be trusted.  I don't know how 
large that group is (although I suspect "not very" would be a 
good guess).  But, if they are right, we don't need incremental 
procedural suggestions, we need really radical reform.  Why? 
Because at least two consecutive nomcoms, acting independently, 
have selected (or reselected) the current IESG members.  If they 
have managed to select people who would engage in that sort of 
conspiracy of untrustworthy behavior, and to do it so 
successfully that, not only can the IESG behave in undesirable 
ways, but that no one on the IESG has been willing to speak up 
in public and say "I see a problem here, but it is all those 
other folks, not me", then there is something hopelessly broken 
about the nomcom model, probably to the point that we need to 
discard it and start over.

No one has suggested that yet, but, if people seriously believe 
that the IESG can no longer be trusted to manage the standards 
process, or a reform process, or both, I think it is time to 
move past "list problems only" and get that on the table.

Why can't we, instead, just make up some new rules and 
procedures to "control" the IESG?  Because our enforcement 
mechanisms are almost non-existent if the IESG is unwilling. The 
IESG has already demonstrated that, under their general 
responsibility and authority to manage the process, they can and 
will make up procedural rules that bend written procedures 
pretty severely.  If we trust them, that process may need to be 
tuned and constrained (as I believe it does) to make our 
expectations about the limits of what they can do without 
consulting the community more clear.  But, if the trust isn't 
there, any effort to make more/different rules and procedures is 
just to give them additional things that they can ignore.

So, whether it be about a final decision on a new AD, or on 
figuring out which process suggestions can just be accepted and 
deployed without going through a long and complex process, or on 
managing the process in other ways, I think we need to trust 
them to make management-level decisions about how best to move 
forward and hold them accountable for doing that acceptably 
well.  And, if we can't trust them, or at least their good 
intentions and willingness to do what the community wants and 
needs, that far, then we had best stop the process of examining 
the leaves on the forest floor while the place goes up in flames 
around us.


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