Network Working GroupD. Crocker, Editor
Internet-DraftBrandenburg InternetWorking
Intended status: InformationalS. Brim
Expires: January 18, 2011J. Halpern
B. Wijnen
B. Leiba
Internet Messaging Technology
M. Barnes
July 17, 2010

Nomcom Enhancements: Improving the IETF leadership selection process (SUMMARY)


Every year the IETF's Nominating Committee (Nomcom) reviews and selects half of the IETF's leadership on the IESG, IAB and IAOC/Trust. In the 18 years since the inception of the Nomcom process, the Internet industry and the IETF have gone through many changes in funding, participation and focus, but not in the basic formation, structure or operation of Nomcom. This paper explores challenges that have emerged in the conduct of Nomcom activities, particularly due to changing IETF demographics. The paper reviews the nature, causes and consequences of these challenges, and proposes a number of specific changes. The changes provide better communication of Nomcom institutional memory, enhance Nomcom membership expertise, and produce stronger confidentiality and etiquette practices among Nomcom participants. Some changes require formal modification to Nomcom rules; others can be adopted immediately.

Status of this Memo

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This Internet-Draft will expire in January 18, 2011.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2010 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 ( 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 Simplified BSD License.

1. Introduction

Whatever their causes, some significant problems are affecting the operation of Nomcoms. The recommendations made here cover four basic areas of concern:

2. Nomcom Management

In order to develop sufficient understanding of the task and to review and resolve the logistical details, each Nomcom must scale a very large, initial hurdle.

Each Nomcom is created as a new group. One challenge in the management of new groups is to ensure that fair and thorough discussion takes place. Any group has the risk of excessive participation by one or another participant.

3. Nomcom Member Knowledge

The danger of a Nomcom with voting members who have little experience in making the IETF work is that they will have little direct knowledge of the qualities necessary for the people being selected to run the IETF.

The random selection of Nomcom members usually produces a number who have extensive IETF experience, but this really is merely a matter of statistical happenstance. The criteria for volunteers and the manner of selecting them make it statistically likely that some Nomcom will eventually have none of these "senior" participants.

A Nomcom whose voting members lack sufficient expertise about IETF management issues is overly dependent on its advisers and liaisons.

Based on this requirement, here is a specific proposal...

4. Nomcom Confidentiality

The IETF mandates that Nomcom's internal activities be confidential. Nomcom is a personnel hiring process and confidentiality is, therefore, an appropriate professional standard.

5. Nomcom Independence

There are several concerns that have the potential to undermine the independence of the Nomcom process. The multiple roles of liaisons from the IETF groups for whom candidates are selected can produce competing goals and their presence in portions of the Nomcom process can produce distraction or intimidation. In addition, attempts to assert undue influence in terms of promoting a nominee based primarily on affiliation and politicking in general have become problematic. Separately, any participant in Nomcom's internal or interview processes can come to exert excessive influence.

5.1 Liaison Influence

5.2 Politicking

6. Acknowledgements

This draft is the result of discussions among an ad hoc Nomcom Selection Design Team, including Spencer Dawkins. Additional review and suggestions have been provided by: Ross Callon, Olaf Kolkman, Jason Livingood, Danny McPherson, Hannes Tschofenig.

Authors' Addresses

D. Crocker (editor) Brandenburg InternetWorking675 Spruce Dr.Sunnyvale, USAPhone: +1.408.246.8253EMail: URI:
Scott BrimEMail:
Joel HalpernEricssonP. O. Box 6049Leesburg, VA USAPhone: +1.703.371.3043EMail:
Bert WijnenEMail:
Barry LeibaInternet Messaging TechnologyEMail: URI:
Mary BarnesEMail: