[ARIN-consult] Consultation on Expanding the Size of the ARIN Board of Trustees

John Curran jcurran at arin.net
Fri Apr 6 15:35:47 EDT 2018

On 6 Apr 2018, at 2:40 PM, William Herrin <bill at herrin.us> wrote:
>> it is often up to the ARIN Board of Trustees to
>> decide whether to explore these initiatives when they are at an early stage.
> Mission creep.
> ...
> Optimal board sizes, in general, have been studied. A lot. The 7 you
> have is already on the high edge of optimal. If 7 people can't get it
> done, then either we've elected people who aren't willing to spend the
> time, ARIN has strayed too far from the core mission or ARIN has added
> too much paper-pushing overhead (too much "process") to the board's
> work.

Bill - 

The consultation notes a concern which is rather specific and not at all related to the amount of total time/effort or paperwork/process involved in ARIN Board work.  

Specifically, the question is simply how small of a Board does the ARIN community feel comfortable when it comes to setting strategic direction in sensitive matters that are too early to engage with the full community.   

A fine example is the recent IANA Stewardship Transition activities, whereby the ARIN Board had to decide very early on whether we would even explore the possibility of transitioning the stewardship of the IANA Internet number registries from NTIA to the Internet numbers community.  The final outcome was quite productive and was actually developed by the Internet numbers community, but would not have been possible without the early direction from the ARIN Board – direction that was not without risk to the entire Internet ecosystem.

The ARIN Board faces similar strategic decisions each year, while I believe ARIN has enjoyed a history of Board members of both extremely high calibre and with exceptional breath of experience in many parts of the Internet, such strength and breath of understanding is not assured with six elected Board members. 

Review of our past remarkable successes is what drives my concern that it is possible for a competent and diverse Board of six well-qualified members to nonetheless lack similar deep understanding of key portions of the Internet ecosystem, simply because the Internet of today has many more layers involved in service delivery and six skilled Board members can only span so much industry knowledge.  This is not about expanding ARIN’s scope or mission, quite the opposite, since a larger Board is also more likely to bring better awareness of other initiatives already underway in any given Internet space, thus enabling collaboration over duplication.

We function quite well today with a small Board, and we can continue to do so.  Moving to a slightly larger Board reduces the possibility of gaps in the Board’s overall understanding of the Internet ecosystem for those situations when the Board must act on behalf of the ARIN community.


John Curran
President and CEO

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