Consultation on proposed IETF LLC Endowment Policy

IETF Executive Director <exec-director@ietf.org> Mon, 12 October 2020 03:21 UTC

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Subject: Consultation on proposed IETF LLC Endowment Policy
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Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2020 16:21:04 +1300
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The IETF Administration LLC has drafted a proposed update [1] to the policy covering the IETF Endowment and now seeks community feedback on the proposed changes.

# Background

When donations are accepted for an endowment a policy is provided which acts as a binding contract for how those funds must be managed.  There are generally two types of statements in such as a policy: general rules that can change to meet changing circumstances; and a set of restrictions that cannot be changed without the consent of the original donors.  The new policy proposed by the IETF LLC maintains the same set of restrictions as the previous policy and so its adoption does not require consent from the donors.

# History

The Internet Society (ISOC) launched an “Open Internet Endowment” in 2012 [2].  It replaced this in 2015 with the “The Endowment for Sustainability of the Internet Engineering Task Force” [3] and in 2016 secured some significant contributions [4].  This endowment was transferred to the IETF LLC after formation of the IETF LLC and renamed the “IETF Endowment. 

ISOC maintained a policy for the endowment [5] setting out what restrictions were applied to donated funds and how the endowment would be managed.  Most of the funds were donated solely subject to that policy.  In 2015 along with the rename, ISOC launched the sustainietf.org website and received a small total of donations through that website.  Those donations were subject to an additional restriction specified in the text on that website, to maintain the principal of the associated donations. 

When the endowment transferred, the ISOC policy came with it and the restrictions on ISOC in that policy transferred to the IETF LLC.  This policy replaces that old ISOC policy. 

# Elements that have not changed

The original policy and the implied policy of the sustainietf.org website contained two restrictions that are still present in the proposed new policy:

1.  The purpose of the endowment remains to support the IETF and its activities.
2.  The commitment to maintaining at least $100,000 of principal of the endowment in perpetuity.

# Changes in the new policy

Some things have changes to reflect the introduction of the IETF LLC and the different relationship it has with the IETF, and the match the actual way that the endowment has been managed:

1.  The applicable law has changed from the US District of Columbia to the US State of Delware, where the IETF LLC is registered.

2.  The ISOC endowment policy notionally created an endowment council chosen from the donors that had to be consulted on key endowment decisions.  As far as we know, this council was never established.  The new policy no longer includes such a council so as not to undermine the financial management role of the IETF LLC board as delegated to it by RFC 8711 [6].

3.  The ISOC policy set out a variety of specifics on how the endowment funds should be managed.  The new policy replaces this with a reference to the IETF LLC's existing Investment Policy Statement [7].

4.  The ISOC policy contained a significant amount of administrative process, which is superseded by the IETF LLC Accounting Policy [8].

5.  A section has been added to ensure that the language around the endowment is tightly controlled and does not introduce any unintentional new restrictions.

The net result is a much shorter proposed new policy.

# Feedback

The IETF LLC now seeks community feedback on this proposed policy.  Please provide feedback by 26 October 2020 04:00 UTC using any of the following methods:

* Raising an issue on the Github repository [9]
* Direct to the IETF Executive Director at exec-director@ietf.org
* Direct to the IETF LLC Board (not including the IETF Executive Director) at llc-board-only@ietf.org
* To the ietf@ietf.org list 

[1] https://github.com/ietf-llc/endowment-policy-consultation/blob/main/DRAFT%20IETF%20LLC%20Endowment%20Policy.md
[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20120804202615/http://www.openinternetendowment.org/ 
[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20150709225828/http://www.sustainietf.org/ 
[4] https://www.internetsociety.org/news/press-releases/2016/leading-companies-and-organizations-commit-over-us3m-to-internet-engineering-task-force-endowment/ 
[5] https://www.ietf.org/media/documents/IETF-Endowment-Investment-Policy-Amended-Apr-20-2015-Final.pdf 
[6] https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc8711
[7] https://www.ietf.org/media/documents/IETF_IPS_ADOPTED_20191218_REDACTED.pdf
[8] https://www.ietf.org/media/documents/IETF_LLC_Accounting_Policy_2020-07-03.pdf
[9] https://github.com/ietf-llc/endowment-policy-consultation/issues


-- 
Jay Daley
IETF Executive Director
exec-director@ietf.org