Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Thu, 08 January 2015 16:32 UTC

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Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2015 11:32:29 -0500
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Eric Burger <eburger@cs.georgetown.edu>, ietf <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom
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--On Thursday, January 08, 2015 11:08 -0500 Eric Burger
<eburger@cs.georgetown.edu> wrote:

>> On Jan 8, 2015, at 10:59 AM, John C Klensin
>....
>> I think that is fine.  However, while I continue to be
>> generally opposed to firm rules, I think the whole role of
>> the liaisons needs work.  Because of the potential for
>> damaging existing working relationships, the presence of the
>> liaisons (or particular people in liaison roles) may have
>> chilling effects on whether the Nomcom gets input and how
>> candid that input actually is. In addition, liaisons might
>> well be assumed to be biased in favor of retaining a status
>> quo that works for them.  Some assurances to the community
>> that, e.g., liaisons were expected to answer questions and
>> provide general advice about roles but that they would be at
>> least as isolated from input about, and internal Nomcom
>> discussion of, specific candidates as ordinary participants
>> in the IETF might, in that regard, be both helpful to a
>> Nomcom trying to solicit input and to general impressions
>> about the integrity of the process.

> I would offer that one person's "biased in favor of
> retaining a status quo that works for them" is another
> person's "Liaisons are expected to represent the views of
> their respective organizations during the deliberations of the
> committee.  They should provide information as requested or
> when they believe it would be helpful to the committee."
> [RFC 7437 Section 4.7]

Understood, no disagreement, and I believe that current language
may be adequate for that area.   Certainly trying to make rules
that would cut things more finely would be problematic at best.

My issue with the current situation lies in language like
"during the deliberations of the committee" in the passage you
cite.  If that refers to liaisons being present and able to
comment during deliberations about particular candidates (and I
understand it has at least sometimes been interpreted that way),
then there is at some risk of chilling effects or inappropriate
influences, even with the best of intentions.  In that regard, I
am more concerned about input the Nomcom doesn't get because
someone is concerned about damaging an existing relationship or
because of a sense that, with the Nomcom receiving regular input
from, and participating in deliberations with, particular
liaisons, the time required to prepare and submit careful input
would be wasted.

> If the problem is a person, we know how to deal with that.

I actually disagree with that.  We've modified the recall
procedure to the point that it is unusable for dealing with
anything but, possible, the more obvious and blatant of abuses.
Once the boundaries are set for a given year, a Nomcom can eject
or significantly constrain an individual only if it noticed the
problem and someone seeking to influence outcomes could easily
be good enough at his work to make that less than obvious.  Even
if it were obvious, the Nomcom would have to choose between
spending time on candidate evaluations (and keeping to the
schedule) and spending time restructuring its rules... I know
how I would expect that choice to me made most of the time.  We
have, in this area and others, lots of gross tools that require
great effort to utilize and that have significant side-effects
if used, but few ones to force a subtle correction for someone
who has gotten a little off course but who is not inclined to
self-correct.

> Likewise, no matter how legalistic we become, a person with an
> agenda will have an agenda.

Unquestionably.  And, again, I don't want to see us attempt
fine-grained rules in this area, only discussion and better
calibration of community expectations than, e.g., the second you
cite above provides.

For example and in the hope of being a bit less vague, I
personally see no need for liaisons to sit in on candidate
interviews, to see supposedly-confidential candidate
questionnaires, to see community input about particular
candidates, or to participate in Nomcom discussions or be
exposed to correspondence about particular candidates or
candidate choice rankings.  And I see some disadvantages to the
quality and breadth of input the Nomcom is likely to receive to
their doing so. Do you disagree?

best,
    john


     john