Administrative restructuring - outline of plans

Harald Alvestrand <> Wed, 04 August 2004 21:49 UTC

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From: Harald Alvestrand <>
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Subject: Administrative restructuring - outline of plans
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As many of you will be aware of, the IETF leadership is working
towards getting a plan together for the administration of the IETF's
support functions that the IESG and IAB can recommend to the IETF

We have not been able to expose many of these issues sooner - there
have been many trial balloons and paths explored, and some of the
issues involved are very sensitive; in the interest of not creating
more anxiety than necessary, we have tried to be discreet.
We are now at the point where it is time to take this public; going
forward from here, we expect to be able to work with the community in
a much more open way.

This plan is now coming together - there are rough edges and places
where we definitely do not know what we think the best way forward is,
but some elements seem clear to us, and we will talk more about them
at the Thursday plenary.

This plan is firmly based on NOT changing the IETF standards process,
the IETF leadership selection process or any other part of the IETF
technical work as a in any way. This change is purely focused on the
administrative support issues.

The elements that we know will be part of the IESG and IAB
recommendation, which will be published in the coming weeks, are:

- A proposal for an "administrative entity" that administers
  agreements for all the IETF support functions (contracts, MOUs or
  other arrangements for meeting services, secretariat services, RFC
  Editor, IANA and so on).  It is likely that different types of
  arrangements will be used for different circumstances or activities.

- Where commercial contracts are the right mechanism, the proposal
  envisions an open process for placing those contracts - most
  likely this involves issuing formal "requests for proposals" and
  invite multiple organizations to offer services. (Note that price
  is only one factor here - ability to perform the functions
  effectively is a good deal more important)

- The "administrative entity" will be responsive to, and responsible
  to, the IETF community

- The "administrative entity" will likely be staffed by a single
  person, whose chief task is contract administration and performance
  coordination. We would like to get this person hired as soon as the
  community has had the opportunity to comment on a concrete proposal
  for the transition

- Transition to this model will need to be performed over time and
  deliberately in order to avoid excessive risk and unnecessary
  disruption. We foresee this process being run first for the
  functions currently performed by the IETF secretariat - and we
  expect this process to conclude before the end of 2004, with the
  service providers starting to execute under contract at the
  beginning of 2005.

The points where we still do not have a single plan to propose

- The formal relationship between this administrative entity and the
  Internet Society. We wish the function to be strongly related to the
  Internet Society, just as the IETF standards process is strongly
  related to the Internet Society today and, of course, some of these
  functions are housed in ISOC today. It is not yet clear whether it
  will be best to organize this function as a peer organization to
  ISOC, or as an organized activity of ISOC.  Some people have strongly
  advocated each of these alternatives or variations on them.  We
  are still exploring the practical implications of these

- The governance structure to be put in place for the administrative
  entity; this depends strongly on the form chosen. Ensuring that the
  entity remains responsible to the IETF community is paramount;
  making sure that ISOC, the IETF, the administrative entity and
  the various other organizations work well together is vital.

All of these are elements of the plan that we want the community to
evaluate - we MUST have informed community backing on this plan before
we take irrevocable steps to implement it, and this needs time to develop.

We will have more details (and pictures!) at the Thursday plenary; we
will have a document ready for publication as soon as possible after
the IETF.

            Leslie and Harald

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