The ABCs of NSTIC Governance

The OIX Reception after last week’s NIST and Department of Commerce meetings in D.C. was a great opportunity to get folks together and make introductions. One of the hot topics that reflected our earlier discussions in San Francisco was:

Q: What will the NSTIC Steering Committee steer?
A: It will steer Internet identity standards, a ‘TrustMark’ for compliant entities, etc.

I’d like to expand on this conversation by asking you to take a minute to glance at the list of the OIX Advisory Board members to become familiar with the unique value it brings to OIX and stakeholders in identity and data markets. The board is meant to provide neutral interdisciplinary insight consistent with OIX’s mission as a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization to improve conditions in the industry. The board is relatively new and has recently added new members in anticipation of the important task of reviewing the NSTIC governance plan. That said, it’s worth spending a minute reviewing the principles in which the board was created and how it is expected to conduct business.

  1. The OIX Advisory Board was created to provide independent and expert advice to the OIX Board, OIX Working Groups, and other stakeholders.
  2. Advisory Board Members participate as individuals, their work represents their personal views, not the view of any organization(s).
  3. Advisors voluntarily participate in the manner and degree that they wish.
  4. Members of the Advisory Board are not compensated for their work on behalf of the OIX.

Last week, the U.S. Government outlined its recommendations for NSTIC governance. Those recommendations included a draft “charter” for the steering group. The NSTIC charter tracks with the draft Steering Group submitted with the OIX, NSTIC and NOI response, which in turn was based on the NIST SmartGrid Initiative charter. At this point, it’s fair to say much remains unclear about how the NSTIC will be implemented, and that many look to the OIX for the private sector leadership the NSTIC requires.

The initial review of NSTIC’s draft charter reveals that it is more of a “principles” level document.  What it does not present at this stage are the specific “nuts and bolts” of how to put the “steering” into operation to pursue NSTIC principles. In keeping with the OIX Board’s focus on governance from our meeting in San Francisco, the OIX Advisory Board is being asked to provide an independent review and recommendations on NSTIC’s governance. By “nuts and bolts” we’re talking about the “ABCs” of building the legal entity the NSTIC requires. We hope the OIX Advisory Board can contribute draft (A) articles of incorporation, (B) by-laws and (C ) charter to the NSTIC effort.

The OIX Advisory Board has been asked to produce a 4-page summary of recommendations for the NSTIC charter due May 1. The Advisory Board will consult with other experts and stakeholders, including our government colleagues, prior to its presentation to the OIX Board and release in its final form to the public. The Advisory Board’s work is a practical demonstration of OIX’s interest in providing a timely, pragmatic and positive contribution to NSTIC.

Scott David has already started work on the “discussion draft” of that document, and will have it available shortly. The document will be posted and accessible for multiple parties to provide comments. That “markup” version will be the primary vehicle the Advisory Board will use to discuss issues. To help with messaging and facilitate full collaboration, OIX has engaged a research firm to support the Advisory Board. In addition to blog updates, Advisory Board members will post recommendations and suggested language “in line” in the posted draft so that the ultimate document will reflect the cumulative “minutes” of the ongoing Advisory Board discussion.

The cumulative markup of the charter draft will greatly inform the review as the May 1 deadline approaches. We plan to make the markup available for use by parties that are preparing responses to the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for the NSTIC Secretariat function. Recognizing that the current draft charter doesn’t contain draft by-laws, the OIX advisory Board hopes to provide a “straw man” with specifics about how the principles in the draft charter can be carried into effect in actual operation.

Once the Advisory Board’s review is available, our hope is that the OIX Board and other organizations will endorse some or all of the recommendations that improve the government’s straw man, and advance the aspirations of the NSTIC. Articles, by-laws and a charter document won’t create an entity, but pragmatic and positive feedback can help form the basis of a private sector led Steering Committee for the identity ecosystem. Ultimately, private sector leadership is what the NSTIC needs to be successful.

As you well know, this is a complex and important task. I would like to thank in advance OIX board members Scott David, Sal D’Agostino, R.L. “Bob” Morgan, Tom Smedinghoff, Hisham Kassab, Deb Diener, Judy Spencer, John Bradley, Rainer Horbe and Hal Warren. We appreciate all of your leadership and look forward to everyone’s contributions.