To help with the selection of suitable candidates for the RIPE Chair and RIPE Vice Chair positions, I share here an adapted overview of the work involved that was previously shared with the RIPE Nominating Committee. The intention is to build understanding in the community and help to inform any discussions about how this role will be carried out as I prepare to take my leave from the position.
Rob Blokzijl was the RIPE Chair for 25 years. He was working for NIKHEF - “Nationaal instituut voor subatomaire fysica” up until he retired. While he was Chair, the RIPE NCC covered travel costs, and NIKHEF generously sponsored working time.
I was first appointed Vice Chair and then Chair in 2014. I was until recently working for Visma as Chief Information Security Officer, CISO. In carrying out the RIPE Chair function, travel costs have been covered by the RIPE NCC, and a significant amount of the time I work as RIPE Chair is my own spare time and vacation time.
It has been discussed in various fora whether the RIPE Chair should receive remuneration and whether this should be a part-time or full-time position. As the ad interim RIPE Chair now that I’ve become RIPE NCC Managing Director, I think it’s important (as the only person who can speak from experience) to give the community the benefit of that experience and let you know what is involved in being the RIPE Chair from a time and work perspective in being the RIPE Chair. Hopefully this will help the community to be fully informed as you try to reach consensus on what is the right way to carry forward with this position in the community. And I want to do this while the RIPE Meeting is taking place, as these events have a way of bringing to the surface many of the working responsibilities of the RIPE Chair position.
Independence of the RIPE Chair
The RIPE Chair needs the trust of the community, and to maintain this trust they need to be independent. Visma operates an enterprise LIR and maintains business contracts for Internet connectivity and other services with several other LIRs. I always needed to maintain loyalty towards my employer while acting as RIPE Chair. Maintaining independence as RIPE Chair was not problematic in this sense, as I never found myself in a conflicted situation. But this is not to say that there was no potential for this to happen while I was filling both of these roles at the same time.
Ripe-714 describes the role of the RIPE Chair, which has evolved along with the community since it was established in 1989. It documents current practice and records RIPE community consensus about the role at the time of writing. However, the document was intended to be quite high level and it does not really provide a clear picture of what the role actually involves in terms of workload.
The current workload of the RIPE Chair consists of several components - some of which are easy to quantify and others less so. The work that is easy to quantify is around meetings and travel:
- Meetings in the RIPE NCC service region:
There is also a substantial amount of time spent at work that I could characterise as both coordination with key community stakeholders and monitoring/research work that ensures I am informed about what’s going on in our community and in the wider technical and Internet governance communities:
- Coordination with the RIPE NCC and its Executive Board, e.g. preparing the RIPE Meetings
- Coordination with the RIPE Working Group Chairs and RIPE Programme Committee
- Monitoring working group and task force mailing lists
- Following developments in the other RIR service regions and with ICANN, IETF, ISOC, etc.
Meetings and travel are the easiest part to produce hard numbers on.
In the RIPE NCC’s service region, there are two RIPE Meetings, the ENOG, MENOG and SEE Meetings (as well as one-off RIPE NCC Regional Meetings), member lunches, and Roundtable Meetings for government/regulators.
The RIPE Chair is also invited as an observer to meetings of the RIPE NCC Executive Board, which has several meetings per year. This often provides an opportunity to arrange other meetings with RIPE NCC staff to coordinate various community activities while I am in the office.
“The RIPE chair ensures that the results of RIPE work are communicated to other parties, such as the RIPE NCC, other organisations and government bodies.
Note: RIPE is not formally represented in other organisations. Therefore the RIPE chair does not formally represent RIPE anywhere.”
Fulfilling this part of the role involves engaging with communities and organisations that are outside of RIPE. In the six years since I have been RIPE Chair, this has involved attending:
- Other RIR Meetings (AFRINIC, APNIC, ARIN and LACNIC)
- ICANN meetings
- IETF meetings
- ITU Plenipotentiaries
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
- European Summer School of Internet Governance
- Other NOG meetings
- NONOG, NLNOG, UKNOF, etc
When I started in my role as RIPE Chair, I set out to attend as many as possible of the regional community meetings (ENOG, MENOG, SEE) and some select member lunches in addition to the two RIPE meetings.
As I was also appointed to the ICANN Nominating Committee by the ASO AC, I also attended all three ICANN meetings for three years.
Looking back in my calendar, this is a rough overview of the time I spent:
|RIPE Meetings||2 x 5 = 10||2 x 3 = 6||16|
|ENOG||2 x 2 = 4||1 x 3 = 3||10|
|MENOG||2 x 2 = 4||1 x 3 = 3||10|
|SEE||2 x 2 = 4||1 x 3 = 3||10|
|RIPE NCC Exec Board Meetings||4-5 mtg's of 1-2 days = 5||0||9|
|RIPE NCC Coordination||5 x 1 = 5||0||5|
|ICANN Meetings||3 x 5 = 15||3 x 3 =9||26|
|RIPE Mailing Lists||1 -2 hours / day = 1 day / week||52|
In Norway, a full year is 230 working days according to the definition by the tax authorities.
I have not been able to keep up this workload on top of my day job, so I have had to be selective, based on day-job commitments and travel time.
For longer trips, I have added three days for travelling, for shorter trips none. This varies from trip to trip, but I would normally fly in during the weekend and have one day to rest before starting the meeting and flying back the day after. For shorter meetings, I would fly in the night before and then back the day after.
And it’s important to remember that my work is hugely driven by what you in the community are doing and want to see happen. For instance, the Accountability and Diversity Task Forces have required a lot of my attention. I’m responsible for the actions that have come from the Accountability Task Force, and while I’ve made some headway, I also leave some of these to my successor. Since I began as Chair, there have been 36 policy proposals, and although not all have been successful, they all have discussions with many perspectives, and all require attention and input. And some years, we have things like the IANA transition that by necessity require a very visible and involved RIPE Chair.
The RIPE NCC has been set up as the secretariat for the RIPE community. The relationship between the legally-structured membership organisaton and the less formal community is one that I’ve always thought of as having clear lines of distinction. Now the community is discussing matters that heavily involve people representing both of these entities. It is also implementing a brand new process for selecting the RIPE Chair on the basis of community consensus. It is important that we have the facts at hand to inform our discussions, as this is a new situation for us.
New things create new complications, but the community has resolved much more complex situations in the past and I am confident it will do so here. What is important for me is that the RIPE community maintains its values of openness, accountability and transparency, and that we can trust that we are all working to ensure the good health of RIPE for many years to come.
- The RIPE Chair (ripe-714)
- The RIPE Chair Selection Process (ripe-727)
- The RIPE Nominating Committee (ripe-728)
- RIPE Terms of Reference (ripe-001)
- RIPE NCC Articles of Association (ripe-739)