Request for comments (RFC)


Changes to this document must be approved by the DMCCB. To request changes to the process, please file an RFC and flag it.

By creating a Request for comments (RFC), you can make a make a proposal to the Data Management subsystem, collect feedback, build consensus, adopt a course of action, and track a decision’s implementation.

In general, DM team members are empowered by the DM Project Manager (PM) and DM Subsystem Scientist (SS) to make decisions on any DM-internal matter provided they meet the criteria listed in Empowerment of DM team members. For instances where those criteria aren’t initially met, you should follow the steps here to create an RFC and generate a decision around your proposed action.

On this page:

See also

Request for discussion (RFD) has a similar name, but has to do with convening discussions across DM teams.

Standard procedures that require an RFC

The following procedures always require an RFC:

  • Adding a New Package to the Build.

  • Distributing Third-Party Packages with EUPS, or with Conda.

  • Updating change-controlled documentation. An RFC can be used to directly obtain approval for modifying documents which are change-controlled at the DM level (those with “LDM-” handles). An RFC should also be used to to develop subsystem-level consensus before submitting an LCR to modify documents which are change controlled at the project level (for example, those with “LSE-” or “LPM-” handles).

  • Deprecating Interfaces, including changes to programming interfaces, configuration fields, and removal of packages.

  • Making changes to the form of data products which are or will be generated by the weekly builds of the Science Pipelines or the wider Data Management System. This includes both changes to construction-era data products (such as intermediate stages in the evolution of an on-disk format) and to operations-era data products (which will normally be covered by an update to the baselined documentation describing the product). Naturally, the contents of those data products are expected to evolve as a result of algorithmic improvement.

  • Changes to certain procedures or policies described in this Developer Guide, including changes to coding standards. Pages which may only be edited by means of an RFC are clearly marked.

In all except the last case above, the RFC must be approved by the DM Change Control Board (DMCCB) through the escalation procedure.

Summary of the RFC workflow in JIRA

This section describes how DM RFCs are created and resolved. See Extended discussion of the RFC process for additional information about the process.

Create a new issue in JIRA

Create a new RFC by creating a new JIRA issue:

  • Set the Project to Request for Comments.

  • Set the Issue Type to RFC.

  • Set the Component to DM.

  • Give the RFC a descriptive Summary.

  • Write the proposal in the issue’s Description field. Usually it’s a good idea to provide some brief background on why this proposal is being made. Ensure that you clearly state your actual, actionable, proposal.

  • Set the Assignee to yourself (in typical cases).

  • Set the Planned End to at least 72 hours in the future for ordinary issues or 1 week ahead for major issues.

  • Add any relevant team members as Watchers (optional).

Once you click Create, the RFC will be posted to both the dm-devel mailing list and the #dm Slack channel.

RFC discussion and consensus

Members of DM should comment on the RFC by posting comments to the JIRA issue.

Refer to Extended discussion of the RFC process for guidelines on discussion and consensus building within an RFC.

Escalating an RFC

On occasion, RFCs are “escalated” for consideration by the DM Change Control Board (DMCCB; LDM-294). The DMCCB may choose to approve these escalated RFCs, or to request that they be withdrawn.

DMCCB approval is required for RFCs falling into the categories listed in Standard procedures that require an RFC. The DMCCB will audit newly-filed RFCs to see if they meet the above criteria, and will escalate them appropriately.

In addition, any member of the DM team — including members of the DMCCB — may request that the DMCCB consider a particular RFC. This may be used, for example, in situations where the discussion is not converging, but a decision must ultimately be taken.

The Escalate RFC button on the RFC’s JIRA issue page is used to escalate RFCs; after the RFC has been escalated, it will be marked as Flagged. Escalated RFCs may only be adopted when the DMCCB has transitioned its status from Flagged to Board Recommended (in addition to the other adoption criteria). If the DMCCB does not approve an escalated RFC, its status will be set to Withdrawn. If the DMCCB declines to consider the RFC, the DMCCB will change the status back to Proposed.

Escalating the RFC should not prevent discussion among the wider DM community: others are welcome to continue to comment on the JIRA issue while it is in the Flagged or Board Recommended states, and the DMCCB may solicit specific input from the community when appropriate.

Adopting an RFC

Triggering tickets

Before an RFC may be adopted, one or more JIRA stories must be created in the regular DM project to capture the work required to implement the RFC’s decision.

Those stories must have an Is triggered by relationship with the parent RFC issue.

Adoption in JIRA


  • the Planned End date has passed;

  • the RFC is either in state Proposed (that is, it has not been escalated) or Board Recommended (it has been escalated and subsequently approved);

  • the assignee judges that positive consensus has been reached; and

  • a set of triggered tickets have been defined

the Assignee is responsible for adopting the RFC.

Do this by clicking the Adopt RFC button on the RFC’s JIRA issue page. JIRA will pop up a text box where you can confirm the adoption and add an optional text message. This message will automatically appear in the #dm channel.

When you adopt an RFC, ensure that the resolution of the discussion is clearly stated, especially if the resolution is different from the proposal.

Next, see Implementing an RFC.


RFCs on DM controlled documents will be set directly to Adopted by the DMCCB, since they do not require implementation issues.

Withdrawing an RFC

If the RFC cannot be adopted (by consensus, decision of the DM Change Control Board, or decision of the Assignee), then you can withdraw the RFC. Click the Withdraw button on the RFC’s JIRA issue page to do this.

Implementing an RFC

After an RFC has been successfully adopted, it needs to be implemented. An RFC is considered implemented once all JIRA issues linked as Is triggering from the RFC issue are marked as Done.

To then formally marked the RFC as implemented, click the We shipped it! button on the RFC’s JIRA issue page.

Extended discussion of the RFC process

If the three criteria set in Empowerment of DM team members are not met, perhaps because the team member doesn’t know all the affected parties or because they don’t know their positions, the team member should publish the proposed decision and implementation as a JIRA issue in the Request For Comments (RFC) project with a component of “DM.” See Summary of the RFC workflow in JIRA.

It is usually difficult to determine all the affected parties for published package interfaces. Changes to interfaces should thus typically go through this process.

It’s a good idea to contact any known affected parties before starting this process to check that the resolution is sensible. The institutional technical manager is always affected, as she or he is responsible for tracking the work schedule. If work for others is being proposed, they are obviously affected. The institutional scientist, the DM Software Architect (SA), the DM Interface Scientist (IS), and the DM Subsystem Scientist (SS) are also valuable resources for determining affected parties.

The purpose of an RFC is to inform others about the existence and content of the proposed decision and implementation in order to allow them to evaluate its impact, comment on it, refine it if necessary, and agree (implicitly or explicitly) or object (explicitly) to its execution.

The discussion of the RFC takes place in the medium of the requestor’s choosing (e.g., a specific mailing list, the RFC JIRA issue itself, a Slack Channel, a convened videocon, some combination of those, etc.), but the requestor should be open to private communications as well.

In the RFC process, the opinions of those who will be doing the work (and fixing any problems if something goes wrong) are given more weight. In some cases, this may mean that the RFC issue’s Assignee passes to someone else. The opinions of more senior people or people more experienced in the area should also be given more weight and may also result in the Assignee changing.

The Assignee is responsible for determining when no serious objections remain. In particular, there is no need to call for a formal vote on the (refined) resolution. If no explicit objections have been raised within, typically, 72 hours for “ordinary” issues and 1 week for “major” issues, the Assignee should assume that there are none. This is known as “lazy consensus.” When this state has been reached, the Assignee is responsible for ensuring that the final consensus has been recorded in the RFC issue before closing it and proceeding with implementation of the decision.

The requestor must be especially careful about not making irreversible changes in the “lazy consensus” time period unless they are absolutely certain there’s a general agreement on the stated course of action. If something is broken, the requestor must be be ready to fix it. It is critical to apply sound reasoning and good judgment about what may be acceptable and what might be not. Mistakes will happen; accept that occasionally there will be a requirement to revert an action for which it was thought agreement existed.


For project management purposes, RFCs are formally proposals made to the DM PM and PS who by default are responsible for everything in DM (they “own” all problems). As owners, they have the final word in accepting or rejecting all proposals. Functionally, they delegate that ownership, the right and responsibility to make decisions – to others within the team (e.g. the SA, IS, group leads, etc.) who are expected to delegate it even further. Notifying the institutional technical manager about an RFC serves to inform the DM PM.