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First In-Person Meeting of the IETF LLC Board

  • Jason Livingood
  • IETF Administration LLC Board Chair
  • 16 May 2019

The IETF LLC Board met for a two-day face-to-face meeting last week in Washington, D.C.

While the IETF LLC Board has had a number of video conferences since the inaugural board was seated at IETF 104, this was the first time we convened in person. We had a packed agenda that was filled with critical work items for the LLC Board. While we'll soon have minutes approved and posted, I wanted to take this opportunity to give a quick update to the IETF community on the progress we made and what we're working on next.

1. Executive Director Search

We continue the process of searching for a permanent Executive Director (ED). We have contracted with a search firm, with whom we met, finalized the job description, determined the salary range and other general aspects of the benefits, and made decisions about how to advertise for and solicit candidates. We also set the detailed week-by-week schedule from now until the completion of the hiring process later in 2019. We hope to have the job description posted within a few weeks.

2. Policies & Compliance

In partnership with our outside legal counsel, we reviewed and marked up all of the various policies that we will need, including conflict of interest, whistleblower, records retention, and so on. We also discussed the need to periodically conduct training on the policies and to audit our compliance with those policies. Finally, we discussed how and when we would like to open these up for community comment (see #9 below). 

3. Insurance

With support from our outside legal counsel and insurance broker, we reviewed all of the insurance policies we need to secure, including at what coverage levels, as well as policies that were either strongly recommended or optional. We decided on most of the insurance we needed to secure, with a few minor exceptions that we will close out in the near future.  

4. IETF Endowment

We reviewed details gathered by the Internet Society (ISOC) about the IETF Endowment and discussed what would be necessary to move the endowment from ISOC to the IETF LLC, what we need to do in order to prepare for that, with whom we need to consult (including donors), how to communicate about it, and how to develop a long-term strategy.

5. Future IETF Meeting Review

We reviewed upcoming IETF meetings, ranging from sponsors to locations, and discussed how to approach meeting planning strategically.

6. Sponsorship & Fundraising Assessment

We reviewed how ISOC and IETF have historically approached sponsorship and fundraising, and discussed several possible approaches we might take in the future. We agreed that we would like to increase the level of financial support we receive, and increase the number and variety of funding sources. To achieve this we decided we will need to strategically assess how we approach potential supporters in the long-term, so more work is needed. This is somewhat lower in priority than other items, such as hiring a permanent ED, because in the near-term we're fortunate to have a good funding base.

7. Investment Policies

We met with our bankers, Goldman Sachs, to review how to access our accounts and how they are currently invested. We also discussed how and when to develop an investment policy to guide how we approach our financial assets, and how such a policy could address both funds we use for operating the IETF as well as potential IETF Endowment funds.

8. Plan for Future Board Meetings

We reiterated our desire to minimize meeting-related costs by convening mostly virtually rather than in person. In the near-term, however, there will be some greater-than-usual need for in person meetings due to the Executive Director hiring process. Our meeting cadence for now will be every other week. We will share the dates and times of our regular meeting schedule once it is finalized.

9. Community Engagement & Liaisons 

We discussed what liaisons are needed, and Maja volunteered to serve as NomCom liaison. We also extensively discussed how, when, and in what form we'd like to productively engage with the IETF community on key matters. We will test the planned approach soon with comment on IETF LLC policies, will see how that works, and then adjust as needed.

10. LLC Employee Benefits

We reviewed and discussed an assessment of what similarly situated non-profits offer for employee benefits, as well as the challenges of doing so as a very small organization. We developed a general framework for benefits and to move forward are assessing whether and how we might piggyback on ISOC’s purchasing power or otherwise find some economy of scale. We plan to continue to work to define a potential benefits framework in the coming weeks and as we develop a better sense of the costs and what collective purchasing power we may (or may not) have.

11. Current Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Review & Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Process

We conducted a line-by-line review of the current budget and financial statement, so that we all understood what was behind each number. As a result, we identified the opportunity for some clarifications for next year's fiscal 2020 budget. We also established a schedule and plan for developing and adopting that 2020 budget. At a high level, the schedule and approach will be quite similar to last year, with the addition of some stakeholders to provide specific input or additions to the budget. We plan to communicate the detailed timing, process, and feedback mechanisms by the July IETF 105 meeting

12. RFP Review

We reviewed the current schedule of RFPs and discussed how to prepare for the next few RFPs. We also discussed how to strategically approach RFPs in the future, so that we can realistically have multiple bidders, which may require more long-term planning in certain areas.

13. Strategic Assessment (SWOT/PEST)

We kicked off discussion about the organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) as well as Political, Economic, Social, and Technological (PEST) forces that can affect the organization. We reviewed initial survey feedback from board members to see where we were aligned, and we plan to delve further into this in the coming weeks. Our plan is that any tactical actions the LLC may take will fit within a strategic framework - and that this framework will be substantially informed by a SWOT/PEST assessment.

Obviously, we covered a great deal of ground in a short period of time. The dynamics of the board are working well, and everyone was extremely focused on the mission at hand and nothing else. I think this bodes very well for a productive rest of 2019 and some major progress on our key priorities!

Finally, we will soon be sending some draft policy documents out for input from the community, so keep an eye out for that in a few weeks time.