Network Working Group                                  B. Carpenter (ed)
Internet-Draft                                                       IBM
Expires: October 27, 2006                                 April 25, 2006

     Tasks of the IETF Chair, IESG Chair, and General Area Director

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).


   This document describes tasks performed by the IETF Chair, the IESG
   Chair, and the Area Director of the General Area of the IETF.  Its
   purpose is to inform the community of what these tasks are, and to
   allow the community to consider whether combining all these roles in
   one person is optimal.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Tasks of the IETF Chair  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   3.  Tasks of the IESG Chair  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   4.  Tasks of the General Area Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   5.  Time allocation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   6.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   7.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   8.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   9.  Change log [RFC Editor: please remove this section]  . . . . .  8
   10. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     10.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     10.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 11

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1.  Introduction

   By tradition, the same person occupies the jobs of general Chair of
   the IETF and of IESG Chair, i.e., chair of its steering group.  In
   addition, the IESG has chosen to define a General Area to house IETF
   activities and Working Groups that do not fit into one of the
   specific technical Areas.  By tradition the same person that acts as
   IETF Chair and IESG Chair also acts as Area Director of this Area.

   Specific descriptions of these roles are sparse in IETF process
   documents.  BCP 9 [RFC2026] states:

         "The Area Directors along with the IETF Chair comprise
          the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)."

   BCP 10 [RFC3777] states:

     "2.  No person should serve both on the IAB and as an Area Director,
          except the IETF Chair whose roles as an IAB member and Area
          Director of the General Area are set out elsewhere."

   but makes no other reference to the phrases "IETF Chair" and "General
   Area" and gives no reference for "elsewhere."  BCP 9 makes one
   passing reference to the "IESG Chair" in its description of the
   appeals process, and BCP 10 does not use the phrase.  Finally, BCP 11
   [RFC2028] states that

         "The IESG is composed of the IETF Area Directors and the
          chair of the IETF, who also serves as the chair of the IESG."

   The IAB Charter, BCP 39 [RFC2850], identifies the IETF Chair as a
   voting IAB member.

   The IESG Charter [RFC3710], which is non-normative, documents that
   the IETF Chair is a member of the IESG and acts as the General Area
   Director.  It does not explicitly state that the IETF Chair is the
   IESG Chair, but it does list some duties for the Chair.

   BCP 45 [RFC3005] gives the IETF Chair a role in managing the main
   IETF discussion list.

   BCP 102 [RFC4052] and BCP 103 [RFC4053] assign specific roles to the
   IETF Chair in special cases of external liaison handling.

   Finally, BCP 101 states [RFC4071] that the IETF Chair is an ex
   officio voting member of the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee
   (IAOC), and therefore implies [RFC4371] that he or she is also a
   Trustee of the IETF Trust.

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   One motivation for the current document is simply to describe the
   various tasks which fall to the person fulfilling the three roles of
   IETF Chair, IESG Chair, and General Area Director.  This description
   may be of value in the identification of candidates for these roles,
   and to future occupants of these roles.  Another motivation is to
   allow the community to consider whether combining all these roles in
   one person is optimal.

   In what follows, tasks have been classified as best as possible among
   the three roles.

2.  Tasks of the IETF Chair
   1.  Establish IETF consensus.
       The Chair initiates and moderates IETF discussions, ascertains
       IETF opinions, and assesses IETF consensus, on matters that do
       not fit into any specific Area (including the General Area!).
       The principal medium for this is the main IETF discussion list
       [RFC3005], and on occasion an IETF plenary meeting.  Incidental
       to this, the IETF Chair, the IETF Executive Director, or a
       sergeant-at-arms appointed by the Chair are responsible for
       dealing with inappropriate postings on the list.
   2.  Act as IAB Member.
       The IETF Chair is a full member of the IAB [RFC2850] except for
       matters in conflict with also being a member of the IESG.
       However, the IETF Chair is not present in the IAB as a
       representative of the IESG, which has its own liaison.  The IETF
       Chair is expected to play a full technical role in the IAB and
       does not normally speak there in the IETF Chair role.
   3.  Participate in IAOC.
       The IETF Chair is an ex officio voting member of the IETF
       Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC) [RFC4071] and a Trustee
       of the IETF Trust [RFC4371].  These are active roles including
       constant interaction with the IAOC itself and the IETF
       Administrative Director (IAD), and frequent interaction with the
       IETF's service providers (IANA, RFC Editor, and Secretariat).
       Note that the role of supervising the Secretariat described in
       the the IESG Charter [RFC3710] no longer applies, now being
       filled by the IAD.

       Note that currently, the IETF Chair is the only IESG member in
       the IAOC.  In the event of a separation of the IETF and IESG
       Chair roles, this would need to be reviewed.
   4.  Act as Visible Head of the IETF.
       Although the IETF has traditionally been a low profile
       organisation, and explicitly (by T-shirt motto) "rejects Kings
       and Presidents," the reality is that when dealing with other
       organisations of all kinds, and when dealing with journalistic

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       media in particular, the role of IETF Chair is automatically and
       immediately perceived as that of a figurehead.  The IETF Chair
       must be able to deal diplomatically and effectively with this,
       even if the message will often be that the Chair cannot speak for
       the IETF on a given matter, because no IETF consensus has yet
       been reached.
       1.  BCP 102 [RFC4052] defines a specific role for the IETF Chair
           in the case of technical liaison statements concerning the
           IETF as a whole.  BCP 103 [RFC4053] defines a minor role for
           the IETF Chair in handling incoming liaison statements.
       2.  The IETF Chair will sometimes need to interact directly with
           the heads of other Standards Development Organisations.  This
           should be done in close concertation with the IAB Chair, due
           to the IAB's general responsibility for liaisons [RFC2850].
       3.  The IETF Chair will be contacted by journalists for general
           and specific comments, often on controversial issues.  On
           occasion it may be desirable for the Chair to take the
           initiative (e.g. arrange for a press release), although this
           is unusual.
       4.  The IETF Chair is expected to contribute to the IETF Journal
           published by ISOC.
       5.  The IETF Chair is called upon several times a year to make a
           progress report to the ISOC Board in its role as the IETF's
           "funding agency."  Note that this is completely distinct from
           the IAB's role as "a source of advice and guidance" [RFC2850]
           to ISOC.  The IAB and the IASA also make reports to ISOC
           about their areas of competence; the IETF Chair reports on
           the IETF's progress as a standards body.
   5.  Lightning Rod.
       The IETF Chair has to act as the lightning rod, hot potato
       catcher, and help desk of last resort, for members of the IETF
       community.  Often this is simply a matter of dispatching a query
       to the right person (for example, technical issues to the
       appropriate Area Director, legal issues to the IETF Counsel and
       administrative issues to the IAD).  Sometimes there is no right

       This role has a positive, pro-active aspect.  The IETF Chair
       should try to have an overall picture of the IETF organization
       and community, and to "see what's missing" and get someone to do
       something about it.

3.  Tasks of the IESG Chair

   The IESG Chair is responsible for smooth operation of the IESG as a
   whole and on issues that transcend an individual area in particular.
   Specific aspects of this role are listed below.

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   1.  Moderate IESG discussions.
       The IESG Chair, like the person chairing any committee, has to
       moderate and guide its discussions and mediate its decision-
       taking.  In the IESG, decisions to approve documents are normally
       taken by a highly structured ballot process supported by software
       tools.  However, the Chair has to seek consensus in contentious
       discussions, and to operate a decision process for cases not
       handled by the regular ballots.
   2.  First responder.
       The IESG Chair has to act as "first responder" for incoming items
       not directed at a specific Area Director (e.g. publication
       requests, complaints or appeals, or general technical queries and
       suggestions).  In most cases, the item should be assigned to a
       willing AD; anything else is the Chair's responsibility.
   3.  Progress chaser for daily operations.
       The IESG Chair at the time of writing has delegated this task to
       two IESG "whips", but the function is properly that of the Chair.
       It is to ensure that the day-to-day work of the IESG goes
       1.  Tools and metrics are used to identify stalled documents and
           projects.  Then the progress chaser will contact the
           responsible AD, and determine what action, if any, is needed.
           If necessary, he or she will bring problem cases to the
           attention of the whole IESG.

           With literally hundreds of documents under IESG consideration
           at any one time, the amount of such progress-chasing work
           should not be underestimated.
       2.  Additionally, the progress chaser will attempt to gather
           loose ends for whole IESG, identify chronic problems and gaps
           in the tools and project list, and identify needs for new
           procedures and clarifications in existing procedures.
   4.  Represent IESG needs to IASA.
       When the IESG has established a clear need for improvements in
       tools or administration, the IESG Chair will convey this need to
       the IAD or IAOC.  On a day to day or weekly basis, the IESG Chair
       will communicate directly with the Secretariat about short term
       issues and needs, with the full awareness of the IAD.
       (Currently, the IAD, the IESG Chair and the Head of Secretariat
       have a weekly one hour conference call.)
   5.  Represent IESG views to the IETF.
       When the IESG has established a view on some matter that needs
       review or consensus of the IETF, the IESG Chair will convey this
       view to the community.  (This is distinct from publishing an IESG
       decision or statement, which is a Secretariat job.)

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4.  Tasks of the General Area Director
   1.  The General AD has the tasks of any AD for his or her own area -
       remain attentive to emerging ideas, foster BOFs and WGs as
       appropriate, manage those WGs, shepherd their drafts and any
       relevant independent submissions.  Although the General Area is
       in theory for any work not covered elsewhere, it is in practice
       limited to non-technical topics, i.e.  IETF process topics.  This
       does create a curious meta-problem, which is the constant concern
       about conflict of interest for an Area Director shepherding and
       advocating work that affects (positively or negatively) his or
       her own job.
   2.  By convention, the General AD oversees several ad hoc teams (EDU,
       TOOLS, PROTO) chartered by the IESG.
   3.  The General AD also has the tasks of any AD - reviewing all
       drafts, WG charters, and any other matters under consideration by
       the IESG.  In a busy fortnight, this can represent 20 or 30
       documents to review.  Recent General ADs have successfully
       delegated much of the review load to a General Area Review Team,
       without which most drafts would remain unread in the General

       Note that if the General AD role was separated from the IESG
       Chair role, it would have to be decided whether the IESG Chair
       retained a vote in IESG decisions.  If so, the Chair would
       necessarily also have the task of reviewing all drafts, charters
       and other matters under consideration.

5.  Time allocation

   A detailed analysis of how much time is taken by each of the three
   roles would require considerable effort.  What is clear from recent
   experience is that the diversity of tasks makes it only too easy to
   lose any clear sense of relative priorities, and the quantity of
   small work items means that even important and urgent "big picture"
   items can readily be overlooked.

   At a rough estimate, the tasks classified above as "IETF Chair" take
   50% of the time, the tasks classified as "IESG Chair" take 25%, and
   those classified as "General AD" take 25%.

   This is without including the workloads delegated to the IESG Whips
   and the General Area Review Team respectively.  With those workloads,
   the three tasks would be of roughly equal size, and quite impossible
   for one person.

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6.  Security Considerations

   This document has no security implications for the Internet.

7.  IANA Considerations

   This document requires no action by the IANA.

8.  Acknowledgements

   In drafting this document, previous discussions within the IESG were
   reviewed.  Some words originally written by Harald Alvestrand and
   Thomas Narten have been used.  Useful comments on an early version
   were made by Harald Alvestrand.

   This document was produced using the xml2rfc tool[RFC2629].

9.  Change log [RFC Editor: please remove this section]

   draft-carpenter-ietf-chair-tasks-00: original version, 2006-04-25

10.  References

10.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [RFC2028]  Hovey, R. and S. Bradner, "The Organizations Involved in
              the IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028,
              October 1996.

   [RFC2418]  Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

   [RFC2850]  Internet Architecture Board and B. Carpenter, "Charter of
              the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)", BCP 39, RFC 2850,
              May 2000.

   [RFC3005]  Harris, S., "IETF Discussion List Charter", BCP 45,
              RFC 3005, November 2000.

   [RFC3777]  Galvin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and
              Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall

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              Committees", BCP 10, RFC 3777, June 2004.

   [RFC4052]  Daigle, L. and Internet Architecture Board, "IAB Processes
              for Management of IETF Liaison Relationships", BCP 102,
              RFC 4052, April 2005.

   [RFC4053]  Trowbridge, S., Bradner, S., and F. Baker, "Procedures for
              Handling Liaison Statements to and from the IETF",
              BCP 103, RFC 4053, April 2005.

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

   [RFC4371]  Carpenter, B. and L. Lynch, "BCP 101 Update for IPR
              Trust", BCP 101, RFC 4371, January 2006.

10.2.  Informative References

   [RFC2629]  Rose, M., "Writing I-Ds and RFCs using XML", RFC 2629,
              June 1999.

   [RFC3710]  Alvestrand, H., "An IESG charter", RFC 3710,
              February 2004.

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Author's Address

   Brian Carpenter (ed)
   8 Chemin de Blandonnet
   1214 Vernier,


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Intellectual Property Statement

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Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).  This document is subject
   to the rights, licenses and restrictions contained in BCP 78, and
   except as set forth therein, the authors retain all their rights.


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

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