MAJOR ISSUE: "Concentration of power"

Basavaraj.Patil at Basavaraj.Patil at
Fri Jun 20 14:18:15 CEST 2003


The issue of "concentration of power" seems to be taking on far more
complex connotations than it really is.

Concentration of power means just that. A very few *select* people in
the IETF wield the enormous power to decide what in their opinion is
right for standardization and what is not. The select few get to
decide what WGs are created, what BoFs are approved, and what WGs are
terminated etc. 

As in any organization there needs to be a system of checks and
balances. At this time there does not seem to be any such for the
power of the IESG. That is what the key issue is. Its okay to have a
body that is responsible for all the tasks that the IESG handles
today. But remember the old adage: "Power corrupts and absolute
power... "

I do not believe that "concentration of power" has anything to do with
classes and trusted networks. I completely agree with James that this
idea of classes etc. is indeed a red herring.


>I believe that both phrasings, trust networks and class, are actually red
>herrings. In my opinion, the real issue involves responsibility, authority,
>and who gets to exercise both. Despite the "no kings and princes" slogan,
>IETF is like any organization, in that it requires a collection of managers
>to make sure the work gets done and that the work which does get done is of
>sufficient quality and timeliness to be useful to the Internet community.
>This function requires that these managers have the ability to exercise
>power and authority appropriate to their responsibility, including the
>assignment of people to positions of lesser power and authority. And, like
>any human organization, these managers are going to depend on people they
>know and trust for opinions about who to assign to actually perform the work
>of the organization.
>In the IETF, through circumstances and deliberate choice, we are now in a
>situation where much of the responsibility for seeing that work gets done
>lies with one group of lower level managers (the WG chairs), while much of
>the authority for enforcing quality and timeliness and the ultimate power
>for decision making lies with the top management (the IESG).  This kind of
>situation is one in which power and authority is concentrated, while
>responsibility is delegated. Most US corporations gave up on this model in
>the 1980's, in favor of a model where lower level managers were empowered to
>make decisions and enforce them commiserate with their responsibility. In
>that sense, there is a concentration of power, but it has nothing to do with
>class or trust networks.
>In some sense, the reality of this situation is at odds with the IETF "press
>release" (I mean this in a figurative sense as what we believe about
>ourselves) that there really is no authority or power going on and
>everybody's opinion is equal. That disconnect has led to phrasing of the
>problem as involving class or trust networks.
>My 0.02 euro.
>            jak

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