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RFC 5680 - The Nominating Committee Process: Open Disclosure of


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Network Working Group                                    S. Dawkins, Ed.
Request for Comments: 5680                                  Huawei (USA)
BCP: 10                                                     October 2009
Updates: 3777
Category: Best Current Practice

 The Nominating Committee Process: Open Disclosure of Willing Nominees

Abstract

   This document updates RFC 3777, Section 3, Bullet 6 to allow a
   Nominating and Recall Committee to disclose the list of nominees who
   are willing to be considered to serve in positions the committee is
   responsible for filling.

Status of This Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2009 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................2
   2. Current Rules on Confidentiality ................................2
   3. Problems with Existing Rules ....................................3
   4. Asking the Entire Community for Feedback ........................4
   5. Disclosing a Nominee List .......................................4
   6. Updated Text from RFC 3777 ......................................5
   7. Security Considerations .........................................6
   8. Acknowledgements ................................................6
   9. Normative References ............................................6
   Appendix A.  Concerns about Open Nominee Lists .....................6

1.  Introduction

   The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), the Internet
   Architecture Board (IAB), and at-large IETF representatives to the
   IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC) are selected by a
   "Nominating and Recall Committee" (universally abbreviated as
   "NomCom").  [RFC3777] defines how the NomCom is selected, and the
   processes it follows as it selects candidates for these positions.

   The NomCom is responsible for filling positions across the breadth of
   the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  The NomCom needs
   relevant information about nominees being considered for these
   positions, but current [RFC3777] requirements for confidentiality
   limit the ability of the NomCom to solicit that information.  The
   process change described in this document allows the NomCom to openly
   solicit information about nominees who are willing to be considered.

2.  Current Rules on Confidentiality

   [RFC3777] is the latest in a series of revisions to the NomCom
   process, and it describes the confidential nature of NomCom
   deliberations in Section 3, "General", bullet 6, which states:

      All deliberations and supporting information that relates to
      specific nominees, candidates, and confirmed candidates are
      confidential.

      The nominating committee and confirming body members will be
      exposed to confidential information as a result of their
      deliberations, their interactions with those they consult, and
      from those who provide requested supporting information.  All
      members and all other participants are expected to handle this
      information in a manner consistent with its sensitivity.

      It is consistent with this rule for current nominating committee
      members who have served on prior nominating committees to advise
      the current committee on deliberations and results of the prior
      committee, as necessary and appropriate.

3.  Problems with Existing Rules

   There are two problems with existing practice -- nominee lists aren't
   as confidential as [RFC3777] would lead the reader to believe, but
   they aren't visible to the entire IETF community, either.

   Since at least 1996, most NomComs have sent out a "short list" of
   nominees under consideration to a variety of audiences.  The target
   audiences differ from year to year, but have included members of
   specific leadership bodies, working group chairs in a specific area
   (for IESG positions), all working group chairs (for IAB and IAOC
   positions), and all document authors.  The combined target audience
   for all short lists includes hundreds of recipients -- recent NomComs
   have sent out about 1500 requests for short list feedback.

   This practice is unavoidable, because most NomCom members will not
   have personal experience with most nominees for most positions, but
   it is periodically challenged because it's not explicitly allowed as
   an exception to the blanket requirement for confidentiality.

   In an attempt to maintain the required level of confidentiality, past
   NomComs have also included "ringers" (as "padding") on the short list
   -- nominees who are NOT under active consideration for a specific
   position.  Since anyone who sees the short list does not know who the
   ringers are, conscientious IETF participants also provide feedback on
   nominees who have already declined.  This is a waste of precious
   IETF-participant cycles, and there are widespread reports that strict
   confidentiality about which candidates are "real", and which are
   included as "padding", is not successfully maintained in practice.

   Even if confidentiality about padding is maintained, the community is
   aware that some nominees on the short list aren't under active
   consideration.  In some cases, people have guessed incorrectly that
   an actual nominee is part of the padding, and didn't provide needed
   feedback to the NomCom about a nominee who was actively being
   considered.

   We also note that the practice of disclosing a "short list" penalizes
   IETF participants who aren't members of one of the target audiences
   being surveyed -- they have no way of knowing who is being
   considered, except for incumbent(s), and have little incentive to
   provide feedback to the NomCom on individuals who might not even be
   nominees.

4.  Asking the Entire Community for Feedback

   NomComs are not required to ask for community input at all, but at
   the current IETF scale, many NomComs do request community input,
   because members do not have personal experience with all nominees for
   all positions under review.

   We assume that asking the larger community for feedback about these
   nominees is preferable to NomCom members without personal experience
   simply deferring to the members of the NomCom who do have personal
   experience with specific nominees.

   We assume that asking for feedback from the entire community is
   preferable to asking for feedback from large segments of the
   community, while keeping the rest of the community "in the dark".

5.  Disclosing a Nominee List

   In proposing that a nominee list be disclosed as part of the NomCom's
   request for feedback from the community, we considered three
   possibilities:

   1.  Asking for feedback on all nominees, whether or not they are
       willing to be considered.

   2.  Asking for feedback on all nominees who are willing to be
       considered.

   3.  Asking for feedback on the nominees that the NomCom is seriously
       considering (the "short list").

   Asking for feedback on nominees who are not willing to be considered
   is a waste of precious IETF-participant cycles, and may make it less
   likely that the NomCom would receive feedback on some nominees who
   ARE willing to be considered.

   Asking for feedback on all nominees who are willing to be considered
   allows the community to point out specific strengths and weaknesses
   of all willing nominees, and this feedback should be useful to the
   NomCom in deciding which nominees to seriously consider.  It also
   allows the NomCom to receive feedback on nominees who might not
   appear on a "short list" initially, in the event that a strong
   nominee is suddenly unwilling or unable to serve.

   We also note that the list of willing nominees will include
   incumbents who are willing to be considered for an additional term.

6.  Updated Text from RFC 3777

   At the end of the three paragraphs in [RFC3777], Section 3,
   "General", bullet 6, which are currently:

      All deliberations and supporting information that relates to
      specific nominees, candidates, and confirmed candidates are
      confidential.

      The nominating committee and confirming body members will be
      exposed to confidential information as a result of their
      deliberations, their interactions with those they consult, and
      from those who provide requested supporting information.  All
      members and all other participants are expected to handle this
      information in a manner consistent with its sensitivity.

      It is consistent with this rule for current nominating committee
      members who have served on prior nominating committees to advise
      the current committee on deliberations and results of the prior
      committee, as necessary and appropriate.

   add the following paragraphs:

      The list of nominees willing to be considered for positions under
      review in the current NomCom cycle is not confidential.  The
      NomCom may disclose a list of names of nominees who are willing to
      be considered for positions under review to the community, in
      order to obtain feedback from the community on these nominees.

      The list of nominees disclosed for a specific position should
      contain only the names of nominees who are willing to be
      considered for the position under review.

      The NomCom may choose not to include some names in the disclosed
      list, at their discretion.

      The NomCom may disclose an updated list, at their discretion.  For
      example, the NomCom might disclose an updated list if the NomCom
      identifies errors/omissions in a previously disclosed version of
      the disclosed list, or if the NomCom finds it necessary to call
      for additional nominees, and these nominees indicate a willingness
      to be considered before the NomCom has completed its
      deliberations.

      Nominees may choose to ask people to provide feedback to the
      NomCom, but should not encourage any public statements of support.
      NomComs should consider nominee-encouraged lobbying and
      campaigning to be unacceptable behavior.

      IETF community members are encouraged to provide feedback on
      nominees to the NomCom, but should not post statements of support/
      non-support for nominees in any public forum.

7.  Security Considerations

   This specification describes issues with the current IETF Nominating
   Committee process ([RFC3777]) and proposes an update to allow the
   NomCom to solicit feedback from the entire community on nominees
   under consideration.  No security considerations apply.

8.  Acknowledgements

   The editor thanks the following folks who have provided useful
   observations and guidance on previous versions of this document: Fred
   Baker, Ross Callon, Brian Carpenter, Leslie Daigle, Lars Eggert,
   Robert Elz, Joel Halpern, Bernie Hoeneisen, John Klensin, Barry
   Leiba, Danny McPherson, S. Moonesamy, and Thomas Narten.

   The editor also thanks IETF plenary meeting participants who have
   provided useful feedback on previous versions of this document.

9.  Normative References

   [RFC3777]  Galvin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and
              Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall
              Committees", BCP 10, RFC 3777, June 2004.

Appendix A.  Concerns about Open Nominee Lists

   This section acknowledges possible concerns about disclosing open
   nominee lists in previous NomCom-related discussions.  Thanks to
   Leslie Daigle for providing this set of concerns to the document
   editor.

   One concern is that nominees who are willing to be considered if the
   nominee list is not disclosed would not be willing to be considered
   if the nominee list is disclosed.  This reluctance might be cultural,
   the result of personal pride, or the result of the fear of
   retribution for a nominee being considered as a replacement for the
   nominee's managing Area Director (this concern is usually raised in
   an IESG context).

   Another concern is that publishing the nominee list publicly would
   lead to "lobbying", public statements supporting nominees on the IETF
   mailing list, etc.

Author's Address

   Spencer Dawkins (editor)
   Huawei Technologies (USA)

   Phone: +1 214 755 3870
   EMail: spencer@wonderhamster.org

 

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