[arin-ppml] [arin-council] AC Role in Petitions

William Herrin bill at herrin.us
Tue Apr 19 15:10:23 EDT 2011

On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM, Alexander, Daniel
<Daniel_Alexander at cable.comcast.com> wrote:
> As one of the AC members on the PDP Committee I'm sorry you think this
> work is being done in such a secretive fashion?


I think it's remarkable that so much work has been done on a process
intended to engender public participation without polling the public
in simple ways like, say, posting a message to PPML saying, "These are
the problem areas we think need to be solved in a PDP revision. Did we
pick the rights ones?"

Knowing Lee, I doubt it's intentionally secretive. Reading between the
lines, scheduling has been such a problem that the chair let members
charge ahead rather than insist on iterations of public comment. But
then that's the number one problem with any volunteer-driven process:
individuals who accept a task and then fail to make themselves
available or dedicate the time it takes.

> https://www.arin.net/participate/meetings/reports/ARIN_XXVII/PDF/Tuesday/ho
> ward_pdp.pdf

Are there slides missing? Slide 7 says the "following" slides will
show steps in the proposed process but slide 8 has skipped past all
that straight to discussion points.

> I am abundantly aware of the issue some people have with the AC's standing
> rule. I am confident this will be discussed on the next PDP call. How else
> would you like to see the policy development process improved?

That's very difficult to say without you having provided the proposed
changes to the PDP in any form. However, if the edits are focused on
the "problems" identified in slide 6 then I suspect the first
improvement would be to throw out the work you've done and start over.

To wit:

1. Newcomers have a hard time understanding PDP

No, not so much. The NRPM is very opaque with odd language like LIR
instead of ISP and  gigantic distinction between the synonyms allocate
and assign. But the PDP itself is straightforward.  The hardest task
newcomers face PDP-wise is learning that there is a policy development
process, that's it's called "PDP" and the URL where the document
lives. You need a routine FAQ post, not a dumbed-down PDP.

2. It takes too long to pass policy.

Baloney. This complaint is made of every rulemaking body and it's
almost always bunk. It takes what it takes because it's appropriate to
reach the entire community not just for approval of the inner circle's
ideas, but for participation in the formation of ideas. More, the
proposals that take longer than the current minimum generally do so
because of significant dissent within the community. This is entirely

3a. Many proposals aren’t important,

!!! That's an incredibly frightening statement to hear from a
committee charged with developing a process that engenders _public

3b. or aren’t policy.

Stating the problem this way implies a desire to LIMIT rather than
ENCOURAGE public participation. Folks come up with ideas. Some of them
make more sense as procedures or process rather than policy. If
there's a problem here, it's the _inadequate forums_ for continued
discussion and development once an idea is determined to be out of
scope for policy. Hint: a suggestion box is not a forum for

4. Need to improve communication between Board, AC, and community

Yes, but you're missing the nuance. More later.

5. Policy workload is high, for AC members and community

This complaint was levied against the IRPEP. It was one of the excuses
for moving to the PDP in the first place. Policy workload is high
because we have thorny problems to solve. It's a symptom, not a root
cause. The roots of this issue are:

a. Lack of mechanisms available to the community for keeping up with
the evolution of policy ideas without wading into the necessarily
extensive debate. Where's the weekly update you can read to decide
whether you should join the debate or let it ride with the current

b. AC members who can't afford the significant time it takes to do the
job well but won't step aside for any of the other half score of
volunteers willing to do the work. Clueful people tend to be busy
people. What a shock! If you can no longer find the time, don't block
others who can.

c. A certain goofiness around the concept of justified need which
requires increasingly intricate and convoluted definitions which, of
course, take considerable time and argument to develop.

6. Role of shows of hands, polling

I'm surprised to hear this mentioned. Polling is to assess consensus.
The consensus assessment is intended to guide (but not restrict) both
the AC and board when advancing policy. Has something changed?

So, communication and nuance. Let's go back to basics for a moment.

The founding idea behind ARIN is that Internet users in ARIN's
territory can and should self-govern the number resource process. For
that reason, it's built as a non-governmental organization from the
bottom up (from the in-region Internet users) rather than receiving
it's authority top-down from a national government or from the U.N.
And that broad base is necessary - ARIN's claim to legitimacy arises
from the fact that their constituency is all of the Internet users in
its region, not just direct registrants or ISPs. Without that broad
constituency, ARIN would not have a legitimate source of authority.

Practically speaking, the overwhelming majority of Internet users in
the ARIN region don't care about the minutiae that go in to the
address management process. So, ARIN's immediate constituency is the
Interested Inregion Internet Users (3IU).

Good communication with the Interested Inregion Internet Users (3IU)
is pivotal. But talking about it in terms of communication completely
misses the point.


What's more, ARIN is not a representative democracy. Final decisions
rest with a board of technical experts and even voting for that board
is restricted to a range of folks with technical expertise. This was
done intentionally so that popular but technically unsound ideas would
not drive the network addressing process.

This technocratic structure is in fundamental dissonance with ARIN's
source of authority. The solution to that dissonance is an expansive
and rigorously enforced process through which the Interested Inregion
Internet Users (3IU) develop and evolve ARIN's functioning policy from
below with technical soundness checks imposed from above.

The core problem with the PDP, and this is key, the core problem with
the PDP is that it moved the bottom of the bottom-up process of
developing ARIN public policy out of the hands of the 3IU and put it
firmly in the hands of the technocratically elected Advisory Council.
The 3IU are largely relegated to making suggestions and offering
comment on this "policy committee's" proposals.

Quite naturally the AC has become the driving force behind ARIN
governance with the 3IU becoming gradually but steadily less
self-governing. Even trivial proposals (like Marty's policy to keep
recovered IP addresses in-region) are subject to massive overbearance
and retasking. Even being on the AC itself is no longer proof against
busy fingers!

If you want to fix a problem with the PDP, fix this one. Put the
Interested Inregion Internet Users back in the policy drivers' seat
like they were under the IRPEP and make divergence from the 3IU's
selected policies the exception rather than the norm.

In other words, find a place about halfway between where things are
now and where they was under the IRPEP and start muting AC powers.
Don't restrict individual AC members' behavior! They're part of the
3IU too and should have every privilege. Reduce the -group-'s power.
Move them back towards being an ADVISORY council rather than the
representative policy development committee they've become.

And I think you'll find that if you solve this participation problem,
the communication issue will largely evaporate on its own.

Bill Herrin

William D. Herrin ................ herrin at dirtside.com  bill at herrin.us
3005 Crane Dr. ...................... Web: <http://bill.herrin.us/>
Falls Church, VA 22042-3004

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