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

John C Klensin john at
Mon Jun 2 16:21:08 CEST 2003

In writing the note about an accelerated process, I realized I'm 
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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