[arin-ppml] [arin-discuss] Term Limit Proposal

Scott Leibrand scottleibrand at gmail.com
Tue Mar 25 18:10:43 EDT 2014

On Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at anvilwalrusden.com>wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 09:59:32AM -0700, Scott Leibrand wrote:
> > I support term limits for the AC.  From my experience 6 years is about
> when
> > burnout starts to hit, so I think that's a good time to take a 1 year
> > break.  (I considered doing so myself this year, but narrowly decided
> > against it and was re-elected for a third 3-year term.)
> If I understand the above correctly, you are saying that a term limit
> would be a good idea, because when you had to make the decision
> yourself you chose the wrong way?

No, I don't feel like I made the wrong decision.  But this is a collective
action problem: I feel it would be better if all of us took a break every
couple terms.  But until that is normal practice (if not required), I
didn't feel like it would be best for me to resign from the AC, especially
since we only had 7 candidates for what turned out to be 6 AC slots.  If we
had incumbents not running and knew it in advance, I think we could've
gotten stronger new candidates.  And if we didn't, it would be fairly easy
to recruit former AC members who've had a year or more off, and are likely
to be a bit more energetic and productive than those of us who've been
doing it for 6+ years straight.

> It seems to me that a little bit of social pressure and some
> well-placed and -timed advice from others who have previously served
> might be at least as effective at achieving the (IMO correct) goal of
> lowering the risk that some people will be too long in the saddle,
> without the damaging side effects of hard limits that can't be avoided
> when something really important comes up.

I think that would be an excellent idea. I'm not sure how to get to that
kind of a norm, though.  The challenge is that all of us want to think well
of ourselves, and admitting when we're no longer at 100% effectiveness is
hard.  It's doubly hard to tell someone *else* you know (and generally
like) that you think they've served too long and should consider not
running again.  If you have any ideas for ways around that, I'm all ears.

I also think it behooves all of us, as those voting in the election (if
we're eligible) and/or writing statements of support for candidates, to
take into consideration which AC members are actually the most effective at
representing the community and crafting good policy (not just which
candidates we like personally, or have the best name recognition).

>  Just for example, suppose
> there was this year a BoT member coming up on the limit who'd been the
> primary actor on IANA reforms, and who remained active in that area.
> Suppose further that everyone else on the BoT hated everything about
> IANA and had historically avoided it like the plague.  Finally,
> suppose that this was someone whose professional expertise happened to
> include public interest governance.  I suggest that in this particular
> (made up) example, the advantages of experience with all these topics,
> given what's going on with IANA, would be more valuable than "fresh
> eyes" in the middle of the announced transition.  But a hard limit
> would not allow that person to serve again.

I can see that being a real concern for the BoT, where you actually have to
be on the board to do a lot of the important work of a board member.  But
much of what AC members do can also be done by involved policy authors.  If
I were shepherding a really important policy, and got termed out of the AC,
there's nothing to stop me from continuing to help edit the text, guide the
discussion on PPML, provide input at the PPMs, etc.  And if I stay that
involved over the course of my year off, that's a pretty good sign that I
should probably run for AC again the next year (and would probably get
elected again).

> One of the important things to do when setting a policy is not to
> create accidental side effects that are at least as bad as the thing
> you're trying to fix.  In this case, it sounds like the advocates of
> term limits want them because they don't believe that social pressure
> and good judgement on the parts of the incumbents will produce the
> right result.  If that is the case, I submit that there are problems
> in the organization that term limits won't solve.

I think the problems are with human nature, not with the organization.  We
might be able to solve such problems via various tweaks, but in the absence
of something else that's been shown to help, I still think a soft
contiguous term limit, at least for the AC, would help more than it would

>  Yet term limits mean that in the exceptional case where someone's skills
> really are
> needed, we might find we can't use them anyway without changing the
> policy.  That sounds like a bad policy to me.

Do you think that concern applies equally to the AC as to the BoT?

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