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Versions: 00                                                            
Internet Engineering Task Force                                 J. Arkko
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Informational                            March 26, 2017
Expires: September 27, 2017

       Thoughts on IETF Administrative Support Activities (IASA)


   This short memo outlines the author's thoughts about the challenges
   and opportunities with the IETF's administrative support activities,
   currently organised as part of the IETF Administrative Support
   Activities (IASA), IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC),
   and IETF Trust.

   This memo is just input for discussion that the IETF community should
   have.  The memo is a part of the author's goal to document the status
   and various challenges and opportunities in the context of the so
   called "IASA 2.0" project.

   The memo has no particular official standing, nor does it claim to
   represent more than the authors' thinking at the time of writing.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 14, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   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
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   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 Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities  . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7

1.  Introduction

   The arrangements relating to administrative support for the IETF
   (IASA, RFC 4071 [RFC4071]) were created more than ten years ago, when
   the IETF initially took charge of its own administration.  The
   arrangements have served the IETF well, but there's been considerable
   change in the necessary tasks, in the world around us, and our own
   expectations since the creation of the IASA.  Looking forward, this
   is a good time to ask what administrative arrangements best support
   the IETF in the next ten years.

   Background for this analysis are the various challenges and
   frustrations we have experienced along the way, for instance around
   meeting arrangements.  But we also need to ask the bigger questions
   about how the organisations are structured.  What kind of support we
   need in the coming years, from the point of view of the community,
   IESG, IAB, IAOC, Trust, and our partners such as ISOC, meeting hosts
   or contractors?  Areas to look at include structure, financing and
   sponsorship arrangements, organisation, and ways of working.  This is
   the context of the so called "IASA 2.0" project [IASA20].

   This document gives the author's view on structure and ways of
   working in the current IASA arrangements.  This memo is just input
   for discussion that the IETF community should have.  The memo is a
   part of the author's goal to document the status and various
   challenges and opportunities in IASA.

   The memo has no particular official standing, nor does it claim to
   represent more than the author's thinking at the time of writing.

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   The authors's views on financing aspects have been discussed in
   [I-D.arkko-ietf-finance-thoughts].  A collection of early views from
   a community process on IASA issues has been published in

2.  Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities

   It is useful to understand the evolution of the IASA arrangements
   over time.  Leslie Daigle's memo discusses the changes from the
   initial IASA arrangements to today [I-D.daigle-iasa-retrospective].

   But it is also necessary to understand how far along we have come
   from even the early 2000s.  As Leslie's draft notes:

      A first priority was to establish meeting dates, locations and
      contracts more than a year in advance, to improve contract
      negotiating positions, costs, and provide clarity for attendee
      planning.  (Historical data point: the early 2004 Seoul IETF
      meeting did not have a hotel contract booked in December of 2003).

   So, while there are a number of challenges, overall the system has
   served the IETF well.

   Section 5 of Leslie's draft covers some of issues:

   o  Do current arrangements match the tasks and organisation that have
      grown larger?

   o  Today's IETF is international and diverse, which poses challenges
      to meeting site selection.

   o  Too many sponsorship and other aspects of the organisation are
      focused around the meetings.

   o  The line between IETF and ISOC organisation has not been clear-
      cut, which has lead to issues around transparency, budgeting, and,
      perhaps more importantly, clarity of control.

   o  The role of ISOC in representing IETF towards sponsors and donors
      is sometimes unclear.

   o  Staffing that in practice extends beyond one employee, with
      structure and control that was designed for one.

   o  IAOC membership is structurally challenged, with a significant
      fraction of members having full-time IETF responsibilities

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   o  The IAOC also has a limited ability to pick chairpersons, given
      that some of the members are not eligible for being a chair.

   o  Community participation centers on meeting arrangements, with only
      a small number of volunteers willing to be a part of the board.

   In addition, there have been issues around transparency, particularly
   relating to the meeting location selection process.  A change in
   spring 2016 led to the early release of cities under consideration,
   to help spot potential issues early.  However, other issues remain in
   discussion, for instance relating to publishing future hotel

   There are also many issues that are not visible externally.  For
   instance, the IAOC is a board for oversight, but the lines between
   oversight and execution are blurred.  Particularly when staff is
   overloaded.  Almost anything that the board does needs staff
   assistance, so any effort in helping move topics forward adds to the
   overload situation.  This situation is particlarly exacerbated when
   something unexpected happens, such as was the case with the Zika-
   virus concerns.

   But many of the specific issues are by-products of the way that we
   have structured the activities at IETF.  Specifically, the author
   believes that the following issues are root causes of many of the

   Internal organisational structure

      There is obviously a need for a central entity to keep the full
      picture of budget and activities, but the current organisation was
      designed at a time when we expected to have a board and one
      administrative director.  While the organisation has grown, and
      for instance IAOC committees taking on more responsibility, we
      still operate largely on this simple model but having to deal with
      many more vendors and topics than before.  The author's opinion is
      that the IETF would benefit from looking at evolving the structure
      and practices, for instance, relating to division and delegation
      of responsibilities, and making the  model less dependent on
      a single director.

   Bundling the IAOC with IETF Trust

      While the IETF Trust has a budget and regularly deals with IETF
      lawyer and the legal team, the schedule and nature of the work in
      the Trust and the rest of the IASA is quite different.  The
      bundling of these organisations with the same members and same
      meeting slots has hurt our ability to deal with both as
      effectively as we should.  And it certainly adds to the workload

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      and volunteer problems.  The Trust is a stable, long-term entity
      that deals mostly with legal questions, and typically has low
      workload.  Trust decisions have a very long-lasting effect on
      IETF, however.  The IAOC deals with a large financial
      responsibility, and is a more high-activity entity.

   Expertise and willigness to work on administration

      IETF participants are naturally more interested in technology
      evolution than details of administration or meeting arrangements,
      unless those arrangements lead to problems.  While there are many
      highly capable persons in the IETF, with a lot of experience of
      managing budgets and contracts, it generally has not been easy to
      find volunteers for IASA-related tasks.

      This would point to a need to re-evaluate division of work between
      volunteer boards and contracted, professional services.

   Meeting planning processes

      Another area where some re-thinking would be useful are the
      meeting planning processes.  Involving community earlier in the
      location choices and writing a community-specified mandatory
      requirements for meeting sites seem like obviously useful things,
      but have started only recently, and have not yet found their
      perfect forms.

      Re-thinking what we as community do and how much we contract out
      would also be useful here, of course as long as the community has
      full visibility and ability to affect the decisions.

      On a more practical level, a big fraction of the effort within the
      IASA is spent on meeting arrangements.  Community input indicates
      that while some new locations are necessary, repeat visits are
      desirable.  Indeed, 5 out of 6 future meetings are to locations
      that the IETF has been to recently (and that one new location was
      the subject of much controversy).

      Given the repetitive schedule, one would assume that this helps
      meeting planning.  While some groundwork (such as site visits) are
      not unnecessarily repeated, and while contracts often have to
      renegotiated, much of the rest of the process is run through as if
      we were making completely independent decisions.  This seems like
      a missed opportunity for rationalisation, or further delegation to
      vendors specialising in meeting organisation.  Further use of
      repeats with multi-meeting agreements would also seem to be

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      Note: no organisation can rely on a very small number of possible
      meeting sites, due to the danger of becoming unable to attain
      competitive pricing.  So the pool of possible meeting sites has to
      be still large enough, and be occasionally refreshed.

   Further clarity of roles between the IETF and ISOC

      The interface between the IETF and ISOC has evolved in natural
      ways over the years.  For instance, improvements in properly
      accounting for in-kind contributions have made budgeting clearer.
      And ISOC's support activities such as sponsorship acquisition are
      obviously very important and useful for the IETF.  Budgeting
      clarity is only one part of an interface, however, and further
      work is needed, for instance, in the area of how the different
      support activities are managed.  It might even be useful to
      refactor the responsibilities between IETF and ISOC.  As an
      example, there's a very clear relationship between the IAOC and
      the IAD, but it is less clear how ISOC and IETF co-operate in
      managing a particular support activity.

3.  Acknowledgements

   The author would like to thank Kathy Brown, Andrew Sullivan, Ray
   Pelletier, Leslie Daigle, Alissa Cooper, Ted Hardie, Tobias Gondrom,
   and Gonzalo Camarillo for interesting discussions in this space.

4.  Informative References

              Arkko, J., "Thoughts on IETF Finance Arrangements", draft-
              arkko-ietf-finance-thoughts-00 (work in progress),
              February 2017.

              Daigle, L., "After the first decade: IASA Retrospective",
              draft-daigle-iasa-retrospective-00 (work in progress),
              October 2016.

              Hall, J. and J. Mahoney, "Report from the IASA 2.0 Virtual
              Workshops", draft-hall-iasa20-workshops-report-00 (work in
              progress), March 2017.

   [IASA20]   Arkko, J., "Proposed Project: IETF Administrative Support
              2.0", November 2016 (https://www.ietf.org/blog/2016/11/

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   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF",
              BCP 95, RFC 3935, DOI 10.17487/RFC3935, October 2004,

   [RFC4071]  Austein, R., Ed. and B. Wijnen, Ed., "Structure of the
              IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA)", BCP 101,
              RFC 4071, DOI 10.17487/RFC4071, April 2005,

Author's Address

   Jari Arkko
   Kauniainen  02700

   Email: jari.arkko@piuha.net

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