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Thinking about Delegating Decisions about Policy

In my platform, one of the things I focused on is trying to drive the
decision process forward.

I imagine it won't be uncommon to get to a point where the right next
step is to develop technical or non-technical policy about something.

I'd like to focus in this message about what I as DPL do when I believe
we need to develop technical policy about some issue.  Typically this
will be after we'd had some project discussion and hopefully reached
some degree of consensus on the driving principles/overall approach for
the project.

Examples of the sorts of things I'm talking about would include
potential policy on use of dh after a discussion about our direction

It seems that we have two overlapping groups that might be involved: the
policy editors (and more generally the consensus policy process) and the
Technical Committee.

Here's how as DPL I see things today.  I'm very open to changing my
mind, and this is very much just a starting position.

first, I've read

I agree that the policy process can be delegated to the policy editors
by that mechanism and have no desire to change how policy works or
change the policy editors or anything like that.  I wouldn't mind seeing
the TC and policy editors work more closely together, and perhaps my
thoughts in this area are influenced by that.

That said, ultimately, I think the Technical Committee is the authority
on what our technical policy is under constitution section 6.1.1.

we delegated managing the process to the policy editors, but not the
actual policy decisions.  They make consensus calls.  They use their
judgment in a lot of ways.

But at least under the current process, the policy editors cannot  just
use their personal judgment to decide what policy is absent a consensus.

In contrast, while the TC cannot develop solutions, they can establish
policy using the collective judgment of the committee.
There's obviously some ambiguity in what it means to develop solutions
vs refining/wordsmithing proposals.

So, if I want to delegate deciding on a policy, who should I send it to?

My preference is to always send it to the TC.  But there's a big caveat
that I'll get to in a moment.

Why the TC?
A couple of reasons.

Ultimately they are the ones who can decide.
If things get stuck, they are in a position to make a decision.

The constitution makes it easy for the DPL to delegate almost anything
to the TC.

Once a specific decision is delegated, removing that delegation can be
thorny.  I think procedurally it's OK to remove a delegation because the
decision is stuck or no progress is being made.  However distinguishing
that from a situation where the delegate is making a decision (which
cannot be overturned by the DPL) can be thorny.

By delegating to the TC (and getting the TC to agree to accept a
delegated decision) I'm asking them to take ownership.  Once we agree
that they are handling it, we have agreement that the issue is important
enough to move forward.

But, and here's the caveat I talked about.  I think a reasonable way for
the TC to move forward on most issues I might bring to them is to give
the normal policy process including the policy editors a chance to come
to consensus.
"Ask someone else" is sometimes a great way to make something happen.

I think the TC procedurally could involve debian-policy for most policy
questions that come to them.  I think that it typically doesn't make
sense.  In a lot of cases it's clear that the normal policy process
isn't going to reach a consensus.  In cases where the normal policy
process hasn't been tried it might simply be reasonable for the TC to
decline to take up the issue until that has been tried.  But I can
imagine other cases where the approach I'm proposing would be

Of course the TC could turn around and tell me that I should try the
normal policy process first.  And if I do a bad job of identifying
issues that are important to the project or a bad job of guiding the
initial discussion, probably they should.  My hope is that if as DPL I
bring an issue that's actually important to the project to the TC, they
would be willing to track it, help me make sure we're making forward
progress, even if the first (and perhaps only) step is to build
consensus within debian-policy.

In effect, I'm asking the TC to help things move smoothly forward and to
become more involved if that becomes necessary.
I'm also asking the TC to work closely with debian-policy where

What are people's thoughts about this?

Will this approach work for the TC and policy editors?

Thanks for your consideration,


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