[rfc-i] "Executive-level management": What is the purpose of the RSE?

Andrew Sullivan ajs at shinkuro.com
Mon Jan 10 13:23:57 PST 2011


I don't have any time at all left to devote to this issue at the
moment, but one thing that has been repeatedly asserted I think needs
more examination.

On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 12:08:16PM -0800, Dave CROCKER wrote:

> The RFC Editor is a critical production service that produces 30 
> documents a month.  This is a dramatically different operation than a 
> multi-year IETF working group or thrice-annual IETF meeting planning.

This is true, in that the RFC Editor function produces that.

But as far as I can tell, the relevant RFCs took the RSE out of that
"production critical" role and places that critical service at the
production house.  Nothing in the documents around the v2 model so far
has advocated changing that role.  Instead, the documents have said,
more than once, that the responsibility for and authority over that
production service need to be vested in the RSE, but that the RSE
isn't part of the service.

That assertion seems to me to be in want of a supporting argument.
The production centre agreement is, I am led to believe (and I am
fully prepared to be wrong here, note) a contract between our
existing, BCP 101 contracting functions and a production centre.  The
hiring and firing, it seems to me, needs to live with the people who
sign the contract.  So I don't get why the RSE needs to be involved.
Ah, but wait.  

[Aside before we get to it:

> This logic seems to be in line with the "fire everyone who works for the  
> government and is not at their job between Christmas and New Years" 
> model.

Since you have repeatedly taken to task people who can't stick to the
point or who are setting up straw versions of others' arguments, I
invite you to contemplate quantity of glass on your own house.]

> When everyone is lucky, critical infrastructure services hum along nicely.
> That is almost never a steady-state reality.  Stuff happens and it tends 
> to happen frequently.  Resolving that stuff entails a very different 
> skillset from what is needed to do the daily grind.

Here it is.  We need a publication professional to be in charge of all
this, because things happen and someone needs to be in charge.

Ok, I get the claim.  But we do not have, as near as I can see, a
strong argument that this function cannot be well achieved in the
existing community with a position along the lines Paul Hoffman has
suggested, in which there is an oversight board that reacts to an
executive director (or whatever we want to call it).  The
authority-and-responsibility elements of Glenn's proposal are thereby
diffused from one person. 

> Only if one ignores what has not been getting done or has not been 
> getting done well.

That is simply a false dichotomy.  At the moment, _nobody_ really has
a handle on this.  A panel with the power, combined with a somewhat
lower-level manager than seems to be envisioned who is attempting to
co-ordinate the work, does not seem to be totally unworkable on its

It does have costs, and real ones, and I think we need to face up to
them.  But I am getting a little tired of hearing people just jump up
and down claiming "won't work won't work" when, we actually have
working examples in view.  They impose costs, and the real question is
whether we want to bear those costs.

There is another possibility, and that is that the RSE actually does
have to do this as a matter of practice anyway.  The only arguments to
that effect in "motivations" were a couple of examples that could just
as easily, in my reading, have been handled by a body rather like the
IAOC instead of one individual.



Andrew Sullivan
ajs at shinkuro.com
Shinkuro, Inc.

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