On the difference between scenarios A and B in Carl's report

Harald Tveit Alvestrand <harald@alvestrand.no> Mon, 06 September 2004 07:51 UTC

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Date: Mon, 06 Sep 2004 09:32:02 +0200
From: Harald Tveit Alvestrand <harald@alvestrand.no>
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Subject: On the difference between scenarios A and B in Carl's report
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Following up on Leslie's mail of Friday, and a number of posters (Brian, 
Scott, Margaret) who have said something on the order of "I think I prefer 
A or B, but I don't understand the difference"..... my particular 
perspective..... in order to avoid misunderstandings, I'll define a few 
terms first, as used in this memo:

- Bylaws (a bylaw?) is a document that tells how a formally constituted 
organization expects itself to behave.

- An MOU is a document that tells the reader how two organizations are 
supposed to behave in relation to each other.

- An IETF (Procedure) BCP is a document that tells the IETF how the IETF 
expects the IETF to behave. So it may be something like a bylaw for the 

In the "Option A" scenario, we say that we have BCPs defining the function 
- IETF makes agreements with itself. This is necessary. We also say that it 
is sufficient. The key phrase from the report:

   o  The responsibilities that the IETF Administrative Director
      would have with respect to IETF activities would be
      determined by standard IETF processes (BCPs, RFCs, etc.)

These BCPs are the IETF's expectations on IETF behaviour. They cannot 
constrain the behaviour of ISOC, unless ISOC makes an explict commitment by 
Board resolution to do so, as it has done for its roles in the standards 
process, the Nomcom process and IPR issues.

ISOC's behaviour continues to be governed by the ISOC bylaws and articles 
of incorporation (published as RFC 2134 and RFC 2135), as subsequently 
modified by ISOC.
(current ISOC bylaws are at 
(note - RFC 2031 describes the ISOC-IETF relationship, as it was understood 
at the time. This document is not an MoU.)

In the "Option B" scenario, we say that this is not sufficient to give the 
transparency, clarity and stability of relationship that we desire. In 
addition to what ISOC's bylaws and board resolutions say now, we want 
commitments of ISOC.

This commitment can take several forms, some of which are mentioned as 
mechanisms in the consultant report:

- Declarations in the form of changes to ISOC bylaws to enshrine ISOC's 
commitment to the IETF support function (Mechanism 1)

- Promises from ISOC to the IETF community in the form of an MoU between 
ISOC and the IETF (Mechanism 5)

- Changes to the ISOC governance structure so that it is more likely that 
any potential conflict will be detected early, and that action will be 
taken to fix it in a manner that is satisfactory to the IETF (mechanisms 2, 
3, 4, 6, 7)

I, personally, think that if we want a stable, long term relationship, 
something more than the "Scenario A" status quo is necessary. I have great 
trust in the commitment to IETF of Lynn as President and Fred as Chairman 
of the Board. But ISOC has had 2 Presidents and several Chairmen of the 
Board while I have been watching. Enshrining the prinicples that Lynn and 
Fred are supporting in text that will endure beyond their tenure seems 
appropriate to me.


PS: This note is NOT a statement of opinion about the relative merit of 
scenarios A, B, C and D.
It is only about scenarios A and B.

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