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Subject: Progress and EML submission status for ISO/IEC JTC1: questions for TC

Members of the Election & Voter Services TC:

     SUMMARY: We have several options for how best to respond,
     and adapt, to significant changes in ISO/IEC JTC1's
     procedures and plans. We must make a tactical decision about
     accelerating, changing or decelerating the OASIS submission
     of EML v5.0. We would appreciate hearing the opinions of TC
     members about these issues.

As you know, with your approval, we submitted EML v5 to ISO/IEC JTC1
late last year for its approval as an ISO/IEC standard). JTC1 "PAS"
(Publicly Available Specification) rules permit it to bring in
specifications approved by accredited external groups and
essentially endorse them by a re-approval ("transposition"). A
number of standards have completed this process successfully, and
OASIS has been an accredited PAS submitter since 2004.

JTC1 was slow to respond to our EML submission, but is now ready to
submit our work to its members (over 35 voting national standards 
bodies) for a vote. However, at the same time, we've run into 
significant changes in the expectations of JTC1 members about the 
way that a standard is controlled and maintained *after* its 
approval. Recent events give us some concern that the terms of 
submission we proposed, with your approval, may need to be changed, 
in order for the vote to succeed.  Please note, the uncertainty is 
about  the "ground rules" going forward for further revision of the 
standard, and *not* any dispute about the substance of your work today.

As described below, it's our advice that the TC consider modifying 
our OASIS terms of submission, to anticipate JTC1's changed 
expectations.  Four options and our recommendation are described 
below;  we request your input.


I put a detailed background discussion in the next, separate e-mail, 
so that this one focuses on action.  Here's the very short version: 
  JTC1 is re-examining and rewriting its own rules, about 
maintenance of outside submissions, very slowly.  There's been 
controversy about this.  There's still a high degree of mutual trust 
and regard between JTC1's members and OASIS.  But at the same time, 
they are struggling to re-define their rules for submissions, and we 
don't want EML to get caught in the downdraft of uncertainty.

Our default position is that the OASIS TC who creates a submitted 
standard continues to control it, and sets its own schedule for 
taking in feedback from JTC1, and bringing major completed revisions 
back to JTC.

As described in the background summary post, that position has run 
into some resistance.  We're concerned that any new submission sent 
in blindly with the same terms would be rejected, now, based on the 
procedural issues.  In the current standards politics environment, 
there are three new factors:

    *  We are in mid-negotiation with JTC1 about possible 
alternative collaborative maintenance methods.

    *   JTC1 as a community has both an unclear, under-revision set 
of rules for external submissions, and a genuine ambivalence about 
those submissions.

    *   Finally, within OASIS, our own Board and management are 
re-examining how best to handle external submissions.

(Details in the background post.)  The third point is unlikely to 
affect the EML submission, as OASIS already approved it and sent it 
on to JTC1 in mid-2008, before we started to re-examine our own 
processes.  But the first two points will weigh heavily on EML.  .


It's our hope that OASIS, by being a good citizen in this 
environment, will help define mutually satisfactory and constructive 
solutions.  But we still face the immediate question of how to 
handle the EML submission.  Right now, it's in JTC1's hands as we 
originally submitted it, after your TC reviewed the draft, with the 
same basic terms as we used for ODF v1.0.  See the attached 
"Appendix A" document, which comes from that submission.

OASIS has four options I can see.  Input from the TC would be 
helpful to us on which is best.

1.  We simply could have the submission balloted now, as is, by the 
new JTC1 leadership, who's apparently happy to launch it at any 
time.  My personal guess, but it's only a guess, is that it would 
attract significant opposition, because of the unresolved issues in 
the JTC1 polity about maintenance.  Regardless of the work itself.

2.  We could submit it now, but after an amendment adding what we 
think might be acceptable terms.  In the attached copy of "Appendix 
A", I've inserted some possible draft changes.  These would require 
some commitments from the TC, as you can see, so they would need to 
be acceptable to you.  It has the virtue of moving faster; and the 
vice of being uninformed by whatever our conversations with JTC1 
will be in the next 30 days.  Personally I think option 3 is wiser.

3.  We could hold the submission back for 30 days, and see if either 
our first round of conversations, in late January, or the March 
conclusion mentioned in the resolution, will let us more reliably 
refine the proposed changes set out in option 2 and the attached 
markup.   In that way, we'd be sending in something better informed 
by JTC1 expectations.  This is my first preference, tactically, 
though the views of others, including the TC and our management and 
Board, also may weigh in.

4.  Finally, we could send EML somewhere other than JTC1.  Frankly, 
choosing another forum is a strong move.  I don't think it's off the 
table, as it's hard to say how the PAS process will fare over the 
long run.  However, OASIS probably is in the best position of any 
consortium, given our good will and track record, to make PAS work. 
  In my view we ought to do so.  Thus, turning to another authority 
for this work at this time probably is premature.

Now, none of the foregoing obviate the fact that the great work you 
have done, within OASIS, manifestly deserves the further promotion 
and higher profile, and has been languishing for all this 
"politics".  I apologize again to you, for both the situation, and 
our inability so far to break logjams to advance it more rapidly. 
Still, we try not to let our good work be rejected or fail 
elsewhere.  It's possible that we were right, that only a negative 
outcome could have resulted from this interregnum and re-appraisal 

We'd appreciate feedback from the members of the Committee on these 
options (and any others you see).  Among other things, the TC's 
views on whether the early draft of "appendix A" revisions seems 
like a plausible way forward.  We'd also be happy to join you at a 
TC meeting if further discussion or questions would be helpful.

Kind regards and best wishes for a successful and safe new year. 
Jamie Clark

~ James Bryce Clark
~ Director of Standards Development, OASIS
~ http://www.oasis-open.org/who/staff.php#clark


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