I spent the last five days listening to the debates on the nomcom
candidate confirmation process and the proposals to fix the process. As
much as possible, I tried to stay away from the debates so I can
carefully listen, understand and reflect. It appears that opinions on
the causes ranged from 'everyone messed up' to 'everyone did the right
thing, under the circumstances.'
After listening to the many opinions, I further thought about the
proceedings of the past 9 months and reflected on what went wrong.
Next, I went back and reread various notes and emails. Andrew, this
year's nomcom adviser, sent an email to me on July 24, 2007, titled
"Notes to next-year's chair" in which he said the following confirmation
"I'll be happy to chat about the confirmation process well ahead of time
so you know what to expect."
We had that conversation in Chicago, and I recall Andrew noting that
there were difficulties in the confirmation process with the IAB, and
that he'll help out when the time comes. I recall noting that I will be
extra careful in ensuring that we do all the due diligence in candidate
selection and in preparation of testimony. However, I stopped there; in
retrospect I should have exhibited more common sense and curiosity and
asked Andrew more questions. But, I did not do that! I guess I can
think of many excuses, but after all, I accepted the position and
clearly did not do a good job. I can never explain how hard it is for
me to say this, but I am sorry for my mistake. I know I made at least
one more mistake in running the process.
I think it is unfair to blame the entire nomcom in this case. The
volunteer voting members deserve the thanks and appreciation that the
community at large showed them at the plenaries last week, but none of
the blame. Please direct any blame on the nomcom at me. I accepted the
position of chairing this nomcom and the mistake of not catching this
issue early enough is mine.
So, what should we do now? First, I don't believe what Harald has
suggested is the right direction. I believe that the IAB's
interpretation of 3777 on the matter of the confirmation process sets a
dangerous precedence whereby one of the confirming bodies could require
that the nomcom provide (samples of) verbatim feedback. One could
interpret the same text that the IAB cites -- all information and any
means acceptable to them -- as being in support of that requirement as
well. The community tends to express their lack of confidence in the
process by not participating, for instance, not volunteering or not
So, what is the best direction? I think a revision to 3777 is in fact
needed. There are at least three things to do:
1. Define the roles and responsibilities of the people and the bodies
involved in the process, more clearly.
2. Define the expectations on the confidentiality of the information
3. Specify the nature information sharing within the nomcom process.
Once we arrive at consensus conclusions on those, state those and revise
3777 to delete text that is inconsistent with those conclusions. Unlike
other parts of our process, nomcoms are under hard time constraints and
much of the work happens in secrecy. We are already late for any
revision to be useful for the next nomcom.
IETF mailing list