Network Working Group R. Hovey
Request for Comments: 2028 Digital Equipment Corporation
BCP: 11 S. Bradner
Category: Best Current Practice Harvard University
October 1996 The Organizations Involved in the IETF Standards Process
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
This document describes the individuals and organizations involved in
the IETF. This includes descriptions of the IESG, the IETF Working
Groups and the relationship between the IETF and the Internet
1. Documents controlling the process
1.1 The IETF Standards Process
The process used by the Internet community for the standardization of
protocols and procedures is described in [B]. That document defines
the stages in the standardization process, the requirements for
moving a document between stages and the types of documents used
during this process. It also addresses the intellectual property
rights and copyright issues associated with the standards process.
2. Key individuals in the Process
2.1 The Request for Comments Editor
The RFC publication series [B] is managed by an Editor (which may in
practice be one or more individuals) responsible both for the
mechanics of RFC publication and for upholding the traditionally high
technical and editorial standards of the RFC series.
The functions of the RFC Editor are performed by one or more
individuals or organizations selected in accordance with the
procedures defined by the RFC Editor charter [G].
2.2 The Working Group Chair
Each IETF Working Group is headed by a chair (or by co-chairs) with
the responsibility for directing the group's activities, presiding
over the group's meetings, and ensuring that the commitments of the
group with respect to its role in the Internet standards process are
met. In particular, the WG chair is the formal point of contact
between the WG and the IESG, via the Area Director of the area to
which the WG is assigned.
The details on the selection and responsibilites of an IETF Working
Group chair can be found in [A].
2.3 The Document Editor
Most IETF Working Groups focus their efforts on a document, or set of
documents, that capture the results of the group's work. A Working
Group generally designates a person or persons to serve as the Editor
for a particular document. The Document Editor is responsible for
ensuring that the contents of the document accurately reflect the
decisions that have been made by the working group.
As a general practice, the Working Group Chair and Document Editor
positions are filled by different individuals to help ensure that the
resulting documents accurately reflect the consensus of the Working
Group and that all processes are followed.
3. Key organizations in the Process
The following organizations and organizational roles are involved in
the Internet standards process. Contact information is contained in
3.1 Internet Engineering Task Force
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an open international
community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers
concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the
smooth operation of the Internet. It is the principal body engaged
in the development of new Internet Standard specifications.
3.2 IETF Working Groups
The technical work of the IETF is done in its Working Groups, which
are organized by topics into several Areas (e.g., routing, network
management, security, etc.) under the coordination of Area Directors.
Working Groups typically have a narrow focus and a lifetime bounded
by completion of a specific task.
For all purposes relevant to the Internet Standards development
process, membership in the IETF and its Working Groups is defined to
be established solely and entirely by individual participation in
IETF and Working Group activities. Participation in the IETF and its
Working Groups is by individual technical contributors rather than by
formal representatives of organizations.
Anyone with the time and interest to do so is entitled and urged to
participate actively in one or more IETF Working Groups and to attend
IETF meetings which are held three times a year. In most cases
active Working Group participation is possible through electronic
mail alone. Internet video conferencing is also being used to allow
for remote participation.
To ensure a fair and open process, participants in the IETF and its
Working Groups must be able to disclose, and must disclose to the
Working Group chairs any relevant current or pending intellectual
property rights that are reasonably and personally known to the
participant if they participate in discussions about a specific
New Working Groups are established within the IETF by explicit
charter. The guidelines and procedures for the formation and
operation of IETF working groups are described in detail in [A].
A Working Group is managed by one or more Working Group chairs (see
section 2.2). It may also include editors of documents that record
the group's work (see section 2.3). Further details of Working Group
operation are contained in [A]
IETF Working Groups display a spirit of cooperation as well as a high
degree of technical maturity; IETF participants recognize that the
greatest benefit for all members of the Internet community results
from cooperative development of technically superior protocols and
3.3 IETF Secretariat
The administrative functions necessary to support the activities of
the IETF are performed by a Secretariat consisting of the IETF
Executive Director and his or her staff. The IETF Executive Director
is the formal point of contact for matters concerning any and all
aspects of the Internet standards process, and is responsible for
maintaining the formal public record of the Internet standards
3.4 Internet Society
The Internet Society (ISOC) is an international organization
concerned with the growth and evolution of the worldwide Internet and
with the social, political, and technical issues that arise from its
use. The ISOC is an organization with individual and organizational
members. The ISOC is managed by a Board of Trustees elected by the
worldwide individual membership.
Internet standardization is an organized activity of the ISOC, with
the Board of Trustees being responsible for ratifying the procedures
and rules of the Internet standards process [B].
The way in which the members of the ISOC Board of Trustees are
selected, and other matters concerning the operation of the Internet
Society, are described in the ISOC By Laws [C].
3.5 Internet Engineering Steering Group
The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) is the part of the
Internet Society responsible for the management of the IETF technical
activities. It administers the Internet Standards process according
to the rules and procedures defined in [B]. The IESG is responsible
for the actions associated with the progression of technical
specification along the "standards track" including the initial
approval of new Working Groups and the final approval of
specifications as Internet Standards. The IESG is composed of the
IETF Area Directors and the chair of the IETF, who also serves as the
chair of the IESG.
The members of the IESG are nominated by a nominations committee (the
Nomcom), and are approved by the IAB. See [E] for a detailed
description of the Nomcom procedures. Other matters concerning its
organization and operation, are described in the IESG charter [does
not yet exist].
3.6 Internet Architecture Board
The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is chartered by the Internet
Society Trustees to provide oversight of the architecture of the
Internet and its protocols. The IAB appoints the IETF chair and is
responsible for approving other IESG candidates put forward by the
IETF nominating committee. The IAB is also responsible for reviewing
and approving the charters of new Working Groups that are proposed
for the IETF.
The IAB provides oversight of the process used to create Internet
Standards and serves as an appeal board for complaints of improper
execution of the standards process [B]. In general it acts as source
of advice to the IETF, the ISOC and the ISOC Board of Trustees
concerning technical, architectural, procedural, and policy matters
pertaining to the Internet and its enabling technologies.
The members of the IAB are nominated by a nominations committee (the
Nomcom), and are approved by the ISOC board. See [E] for a detailed
description of the Nomcom procedures. The membership of the IAB
consists of members selected by the Nomcom process and the IETF chair
sitting as a ex-officio member. Other matters concerning its
organization and operation, are described in the IAB charter [D].
3.7 Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
Many protocol specifications include numbers, keywords, and other
parameters that must be uniquely assigned. Examples include version
numbers, protocol numbers, port numbers, and MIB numbers. The
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is responsible for
assigning the values of these protocol parameters for the Internet.
The IANA publishes tables of all currently assigned numbers and
parameters in RFCs entitled "Assigned Numbers" [E]. The IANA
functions as the "top of the pyramid" for DNS and Internet Address
assignment establishing policies for these functions.
The functions of the IANA are performed by one or more individuals or
organizations selected in accordance with the procedures defined by
the IANA charter [F].
3.8 Internet Research Task Force
The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) is not directly involved in
the Internet standards process. It investigates topics considered to
be too uncertain, too advanced, or insufficiently well-understood to
be the subject of Internet standardization. When an IRTF activity
generates a specification that is sufficiently stable to be
considered for Internet standardization, the specification is
processed through the IETF using the rules in this document.
The IRTF is composed of individual Working Groups, but its structure
and mode of operation is much less formal than that of the IETF, due
in part to the fact that it does not participate directly in the
Internet standards process. The organization and program of work of
the IRTF is overseen by the Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG),
which consists of the chairs of the IRTF Working Groups. Details of
the organization and operation of the IRTF and its Working Groups may
be found in [H].
4. Security Considerations
Security is not addressed in this memo.
[A] Huizer,E. and D. Crocker, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
Procedures", RFC 1603, March 1994.
[B] Bradner, S., Editor, "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
3", RFC 2026, October 1996.
[C] By - Laws for the Internet Society, as amended:
[D] Huitema, C. and the IAB, "Charter of the Internet Architecture
Board (IAB)", RFC 1601, March 1994.
[E] Galvin, J (Ed.), "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and
Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees",
RFC 2027, October 1996.
[F] IANA Charter, Work in Progress.
[G] RFC Editor Charter, Work in Progress.
[H] IRTF Charter, RFC 2014, October 1996.
5. Authors' Addresses:
Digital Equipment Corporation
1401 H Street NW
Washington DC 20005
Phone: +1 202 383 5615
1350 Mass Ave. Rm 813
Cambridge MA 02138
Phone: +1 617 495 3864