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Re: Thoughts on the nomcom process

2008-03-18 15:00:19
Spencer, Laksminath,

You did something very GOOD this time - you invoked the never-before-invoked 
arbitration process, instead of secretly resolving an "irresistable force 
meets immovable object" dispute. Please accept credit for this good 


INDEED. Thanks, Laksminath.

And as for what to do about this problem for the future - I would
suggest that we should not focus too much on this particular incident or
even IAB's role. There are different confirming bodies and there are
different situations.

I think a good first step is to make sure the questionnaire templates
are clear about what information stays strictly within the nomcom and
what may be shown to confirming bodies. And clarify that feedback from
the community shall never leave the nomcom, if that's not already clear.

But even after doing this, the basic question of what confirming means
stays open. I think the intent is that the confirming body makes a final
sanity check and under normal circumstances that should be it. I
understand the need for requesting some amount of information; it may
well be that the candidates are not all personally known to the
confirming body. CVs would be useful in this process, for instance. This
is what we have been talking about on the list. However, presumably we
have the confirming process to catch problems, so the more difficult
case is the problem case. Hopefully this is extremely rare or
non-existent. I would expect the confidentiality rules on, e.g.,
feedback to hold even in such a case. But it would seem a dialog between
the nomcom and the confirming body would be needed, and some information
would have to be exchanged -- perhaps in summarized form. "Yes, we
realize A has these issues but the only other candidate B had such and
such problem" or "He escaped from the institution last month? Oops,
perhaps we need to go with our backup candidate instead."

I have no idea how to specify the process on this so that it works under
all circumstances. But my main expectation for the confirming bodies is
that they do a thorough job without resorting to repeating nomcom's work
or questioning the results unless a truly serious problem can be seen.


P.S. Since the dispute resolution results are public, I would be
interested to know what kind of a report Scott would have been able to
give in the plenary, had the dispute been about a person rather than the
process. I hope we never have to see that. But maybe some food for
thought about the confidentiality rules of this whole thing...

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