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IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 2418.
Author Scott O. Bradner
Last updated 2021-03-12 (Latest revision 1998-08-14)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state (None)
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IESG IESG state RFC 2418 (Best Current Practice)
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Network Working Group                                         S. Bradner
Internet-Draft                                        Harvard University
                                                             August 1998

                           IETF Working Group
                       Guidelines and Procedures


Status of this Memo
   This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
   and its working groups.  Note that other groups may also  distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as ``work in progress.''

   To view the entire list of current Internet-Drafts, please check the
   "1id-abstracts.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts Shadow
   Directories on (Africa), (Northern
   Europe), (Southern Europe), (Pacific
   Rim), (US East Coast), or (US West Coast).

   The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has responsibility for
   developing and reviewing specifications intended as Internet
   Standards. IETF activities are organized into working groups (WGs).
   This document describes the guidelines and procedures for formation
   and operation of IETF working groups. It also describes the formal
   relationship between IETF participants WG and the Internet
   Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and the basic duties of IETF
   participants, including WG Chairs, WG participants, and IETF Area

Table of Contents

   Status of this Memo.................................................1
   1. Introduction.....................................................2
     1.1. IETF approach to standardization.............................4
     1.2. Roles within a Working Group.................................4
   2. Working group formation..........................................4
     2.1. Criteria for formation.......................................4
     2.2. Charter......................................................5

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     2.3. Charter review & approval....................................8
     2.4. Birds of a feather (BOF).....................................8
   3. Working Group Operation..........................................9
     3.1. Session planning.............................................9
     3.2. Session venue...............................................10
     3.3. Session management..........................................12
     3.4. Contention and appeals......................................13
   4. Working Group Termination.......................................13
   5. Rechartering a Working Group....................................13
   6. Staff Roles.....................................................14
     6.1. WG Chair....................................................14
     6.2. WG Secretary................................................16
     6.3. Document Editor.............................................16
     6.4. WG Facilitator..............................................16
     6.5. Design teams................................................16
     6.6. Working Group Consultant....................................16
     6.7. Area Director...............................................17
   7. Working Group Documents.........................................17
     7.1. Session documents...........................................17
     7.2. IETF meeting documents......................................17
     7.3. Internet-Drafts (I-D).......................................17
     7.4. Request For Comments (RFC)..................................18
     7.5. Working Group Last-Call.....................................18
     7.6. Submission of documents.....................................18
   8. Review of documents.............................................18
   9. Security Considerations.........................................20
   10. Acknowledgments................................................20
   11. References.....................................................20
   12. Authors' Address...............................................20
   Appendix:  Sample Working Group Charter............................21

1. Introuction
   The Internet, a loosely-organized international collaboration of
   autonomous, interconnected networks, supports host-to-host
   communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and
   procedures defined by Internet Standards.  There are also many
   isolated interconnected networks, which are not connected to the
   global Internet but use the Internet Standards. Internet Standards
   are developed in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  This
   document defines guidelines and procedures for IETF working groups.
   The Internet Standards Process of the IETF is defined in [1]. The
   organizations involved in the IETF Standards Process are described in
   [2] as are the roles of specific individuals.

   The IETF is a large, open community of network designers, operators,
   vendors, users, and researchers concerned with the Internet and the
   technology used on it. The primary activities of the IETF are
   performed by committees known as working groups. There are currently

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   more than 100 working groups. ( See the IETF web page for a up-to-
   date list of IETF Working Groups -  Working
   groups tend to have a narrow focus and a lifetime bounded by the
   completion of a specific set of tasks, although there are exceptions.

   For management purposes, the IETF working groups are collected
   together into areas, with each area having a separate focus.  For
   example, the security area deals with the development of security-
   related technology.  Each IETF area is managed by one or two Area
   Directors.  There are currently 8 areas in the IETF but the number
   changes from time to time.  (See the IETF web page for a list of the
   current areas, the Area Directors for each area, and a list of which
   working groups are assigned to each area.)

   In many areas the Area Directors have formed an advisory group or
   directorate.  These comprise experienced members of the IETF and the
   technical community represented by the area  The specific name and
   the details of the role for each group differs from area to area, but
   the primary intent is that these groups assist the Area Director(s),
   e.g., with the review of specifications produced in the area.

   The IETF area directors are selected by a nominating committee, which
   also selects an overall chair for the IETF.  The nominations process
   is described in [3].

   The area directors sitting as a body, along with the IETF Chair
   comprise the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). The IETF
   Executive Director is an ex-officio participant of the IESG, as are
   the IAB Chair and a designated Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
   liaison.  The IESG approves IETF Standards and approves the
   publication of other IETF documents.  (See [1].)

   A small IETF Secretariat provides staff and administrative support
   for the operation of the IETF.

   There is no formal membership in the IETF.  Participation is open to
   all.  This participation may be by on-line contribution, attendance
   at face-to-face sessions, or both.  Anyone from the Internet
   community who has the time and interest is urged to participate in
   IETF meetings and any of its on-line working group discussions.
   Participation is by individual technical contributors, rather than by
   formal representatives of organizations.

   This document defines procedures and guidelines for formation and
   operation of working groups in the IETF. It defines the relations of
   working groups to other bodies within the IETF. The duties of working
   group Chairs and Area Directors with respect to the operation of the
   working group are also defined.  When used in this document the key

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   "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED",  "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" are to be
   interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [6].  RFC 2119 defines the use
   of these key words to help make the intent of standards track
   documents as clear as possible.  The same key words are used in this
   document to help smooth WG operation and reduce the chance for
   confusion about the processes.

1.1. IETF approach to standardization
   Familiarity with The Internet Standards Process [1] is essential for
   a complete understanding of the philosophy, procedures and guidelines
   described in this document.

1.2. Roles within a Working Group
   The document "Organizations Involved in the IETF Standards Process"
   [2] describes the roles of a number of individuals within a working
   group, including the working group chair and the document editor.
   These descriptions are expanded later in this document.

2. Working group formation
   IETF working groups (WGs) are the primary mechanism for development
   of IETF specifications and guidelines, many of which are intended to
   be standards or recommendations. A working group may be established
   at the initiative of an Area Director or it may be initiated by an
   individual or group of individuals. Anyone interested in creating an
   IETF working group MUST obtain the advice and consent of the IETF
   Area Director(s) in whose area the working group would fall and MUST
   proceed through the formal steps detailed in this section.

   Working groups are typically created to address a specific problem or
   to produce one or more specific deliverables (a guideline, standards
   specification, etc.).  Working groups are generally expected to be
   short-lived in nature.  Upon completion of its goals and achievement
   of its objectives, the working group is terminated. A working group
   may also be terminated for other reasons. (see section 4)
   Alternatively with the concurrence of the IESG, Area Director, the WG
   Chair, and the WG participants, the objectives or assignment of the
   working group may be extended by modifying the working group's
   charter through a rechartering process (see section 5).

2.1. Criteria for formation
   When determining whether it is appropriate to create a working group,
   the Area Director(s) and the IESG will consider several issues:
   - Are the issues that the working group plans to address clear and
      relevant to the Internet community?
   - Are the goals specific and reasonably achievable, and achievable
      within a reasonable time frame?
   - What are the risks and urgency of the work, to determine the level

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      of effort required?
   - Do the working group's activities overlap with those of another
      working group? If so, it may still be appropriate to create the
      working group, but this question must be considered carefully by
      the Area Directors as subdividing efforts often dilutes the
      available technical expertise.
   - Is there sufficient interest within the IETF in the working group's
      topic with enough people willing to expend the effort to produce
      the desired result (e.g., a protocol specification)?  Working
      groups require considerable effort, including management of the
      working group process, editing of working group documents, and
      contributing to the document text.  IETF experience suggests that
      these roles typically cannot all be handled by one person; a
      minimum of four or five active participants in the management
      positions are typically required in addition to a minimum of one
      or two dozen people that will attend the working group meetings
      and contribute on the mailing list.  NOTE: The interest must be
      broad enough that a working group would not be seen as merely the
      activity of a single vendor.
   - Is there enough expertise within the IETF in the working group's
      topic, and are those people interested in contributing in the
      working group?  - Does a base of interested consumers (end users)
      appear to exist for the planned work?  Consumer interest can be
      measured by participation of end-users within the IETF process, as
      well as by less direct means.
   - Does the IETF have a reasonable role to play in the determination
      of the technology?  There are many Internet-related technologies
      that may be interesting to IETF members but in some cases the IETF
      may not be in a position to effect the course of the technology in
      the "real world".  For example, if the technology is being
      developed by another standards body or an industry consortium.
   - Are all known intellectual property rights relevant to the proposed
      working group's efforts issues understood?
   - Is the proposed work plan an open IETF effort or is it an attempt
      to "bless" non-IETF technology where the effect of input from IETF
      participants may be limited.
   - Is there a good understanding of any existing work that is relevant
      to the topics that the proposed working group is to pursue?  This
      includes work within the IETF and elsewhere.
   - Do the working group's goals overlap with known work in another
      standards body, and if so is adequate liaison in place?

   Considering the above criteria, the Area Director(s), using his or
   her best judgement, will decide whether to pursue the formation of
   the group through the chartering process.

2.2. Charter
   The formation of a working group requires a charter which is

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   primarily negotiated between a prospective working group Chair and
   the relevant Area Director(s), although final approval is made by the
   IESG with advice from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).  A
   charter is a contract between a working group and the IETF to perform
   a set of tasks.  A charter:
   1. Lists relevant administrative information for the working group;
   2. Specifies the direction or objectives of the working group and
      describes the approach that will be taken to achieve the goals;
   3. Enumerates a set of milestones together with time frames for their

   When the prospective Chair(s), the Area Director and the IETF
   Secretariat are satisfied with the charter form and content, it
   becomes the basis for forming a working group. Note that an Area
   Director MAY require the holding an exploratory Birds of a Feather
   (BOF) meeting, as described below, to gage the level of support for a
   working group before submitting the charter to the IESG and IAB for

   Charters may be renegotiated periodically to reflect the current
   status, organization or goals of the working group. (see section 5)
   Hence, a charter is a contract between the IETF and the working group
   which is committing to meet explicit milestones and delivering
   specific "products".

   Specifically, each charter consists of the following sections:
   Working group name
      A working group name should be reasonably descriptive or
      identifiable. Additionally, the group shall define an acronym
      (maximum 8 printable ASCII characters) to reference the group in
      the IETF directories, mailing lists, and general documents.
      The working group may have one or more Chairs to perform the
      administrative functions of the group. The email address(es) of
      the Chair(s) shall be included.  Generally a working group is
      limited to two chairs.
   Area and Area Director(s)
      The name of the IETF area with which the working group is
      affiliated and the name and electronic mail address of the
      associated Area Director(s).
   Area Advisor
      If the area has two Area Directors one of them MUST be listed as
      the primary contact for the working group.
   Mailing list
      An IETF working group MUST have a general Internet mailing list.
      Most of the work of an IETF working group will be conducted on the
      mailing list. The working group charter MUST include:

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      1. The address to which a participant sends a subscription request
         and the procedures to follow when subscribing,
      2. The address to which a participant sends submissions and
         special procedures, if any, and
      3. The location of the mailing list archive. A message archive
         MUST be maintained in a public place which can be accessed via
         FTP or via the web. The address "" MUST be
         included in the mailing list in order that a copy of all
         mailing list messages is sent to an archive at the IETF
         Secretariat. There is an archive of a number of working group
         mailing lists at This is a
         service offered by the IETF Secretariat but it does not
         eliminate the need for each WG to maintain their own set of

   Description of working group
      The focus and intent of the group shall be set forth briefly. By
      reading this section alone, an individual should be able to decide
      whether this group is relevant to their own work. The first
      paragraph must give a brief summary of the problem area, basis,
      goal(s) and approach(es) planned for the working group.  This
      paragraph can be used as an overview of the working group's

      To facilitate evaluation of the intended work and to provide on-
      going guidance to the working group, the charter must describe the
      problem being solved and must discuss objectives and expected
      impact with respect to:
         - Architecture
         - Operations
         - Security
         - Network management
         - Scaling
         - Transition (where applicable)

   Goals and milestones
      The working group charter MUST establish a timetable for specific
      work items. While this may be re-negotiated over time, the list of
      milestones and dates facilitates the Area Director's tracking of
      working group progress and status, and it is indispensable to
      potential participants identifying the critical moments for input.
      Milestones shall consist of deliverables that can be qualified as
      showing specific achievement; e.g., "Internet-Draft finished" is
      fine, but "discuss via email" is not. It is helpful to specify
      milestones for every 3-6 months, so that progress can be gauged
      easily.  This milestone list is expected to be updated
      periodically. (see section 5)
      An example of a WG charter is included as Appendix A.

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2.3. Charter review & approval
   Proposed working groups often comprise technically competent
   participants who are not familiar with the history of Internet
   architecture or IETF processes.  This can, unfortunately, lead to
   good working group consensus about a bad design.  To facilitate
   working group efforts, an Area Director may assign a Consultant from
   among the ranks of senior IETF participants.  (Consultants are
   described in section 6.)  At the discretion of the Area Director,
   approval of a new WG may be withheld in the absence of sufficient
   consultant resources.

   Once the Area Director (and the Area Directorate, as the Area
   Director deems appropriate) has approved the working group charter,
   the charter is submitted for review by the IAB and approval by the
   IESG.  After a review period of at least a week the proposed charter
   is posted to the IETF-announce mailing list as a public notice that
   the formation of the working group is being considered.  At the same
   time the proposed charter is also posted to the "new-work" mailing
   list.  This mailing list has been created to let qualified
   representatives from other standards organizations know about pending
   IETF working groups.  After another review period lasting at least a
   week the IESG MAY approve the charter as-is, it MAY request that
   changes be made in the charter, or MAY decline to approve chartering
   of the working group

   If the IESG approves the formation of the working group it remands
   the approved charter to the IETF Secretariat who records and enters
   the information into the IETF tracking database.  The working group
   is announced to the IETF-announce a by the IETF Secretariat.

2.4. Birds of a feather (BOF)
   Often it is not clear whether an issue merits the formation of a
   working group. To facilitate exploration of the issues the IETF
   offers the possibility of a Birds of a Feather (BOF) session, as well
   as the early formation of an email list for preliminary discussion.
   In addition, a BOF may serve as a forum for a single presentation or
   discussion, without any intent to form a working group.

   A BOF is a session at an IETF meeting which permits "market research"
   and technical "brainstorming".  Any individual may request permission
   to hold a BOF on a subject. The request MUST be filed with a relevant
   Area Director who must approve a BOF before it can be scheduled. The
   person who requests the BOF is usually appointed as Chair of the BOF.
   The Chair of the BOF is also responsible for providing a report on
   the outcome of the BOF.   If the Area Director approves the BOF is
   then scheduled by submitting a request to with copies
   to the area Area Director(s). A BOF description and agenda are
   required before a BOF can be scheduled.

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   The Area Director MAY require the establishment of an open email list
   prior to authorizing a BOF.  This permits initial exchanges and
   sharing of framework, vocabulary and approaches, in order to make the
   time spent in the BOF more productive.  The Area Director MAY require
   that a BOF be held, prior to establishing a working group (see
   section 2.2).  The Area Director MAY require that there be a draft of
   the WG charter prior to holding a BOF.  The Area Director MAY require
   that a BOF not be held until an Internet-Draft describing the
   proposed technology has been published so it can be used as a basis
   for discussion in the BOF.

   In general BOF on a particular topic is held only once (ONE slot at
   one IETF Plenary meeting). Under unusual circumstances Area Directors
   may, at their discretion, allow a BOF to meet for a second time. BOFs
   are not permitted to meet three times.  Note that all other things
   being equal, WGs will be given priority for meeting space over BOFs.

   Usually the outcome of a BOF will be one of the following:
   - There was enough interest and focus in the subject to warrant the
      formation of a WG;
   - While there was a reasonable level of interest expressed in the BOF
      some other criteria for working group formation was not met. (see
      section 2.1)
   - The discussion came to a fruitful conclusion, with results to be
      written down and published, however there is no need to establish
      a WG; or
   - There was not enough interest in the subject to warrant the
      formation of a WG.

3.  Working Group Operation
   The IETF has basic requirements for open and fair participation and
   for thorough consideration of technical alternatives.  Within those
   constraints, working groups are autonomous and each determines most
   of the details of its own operation with respect to session
   participation, reaching closure, etc. The core rule for operation is
   that acceptance or agreement is achieved via working group "rough
   consensus".  WG participants should specifically note the
   requirements for disclosure of conflicts of interest in [2].

   A number of procedural questions and issues will arise over time, and
   it is the function of the Working Group Chair(s) to manage the group
   process, keeping in mind that the overall purpose of the group is to
   make progress towards reaching rough consensus in realizing the
   working group's goals and objectives.

   There are few hard and fast rules on organizing or conducting working
   group activities, but a set of guidelines and practices have evolved
   over time that have proven successful. These are listed here, with

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   actual choices typically determined by the working group participants
   and the Chair(s).

3.1. Session planning
   For coordinated, structured WG interactions, the Chair(s) MUST
   publish a draft agenda well in advance of the actual session. The
   agenda should contain at least:
   - The items for discussion;
   - The estimated time necessary per item; and
   - A clear indication of what documents the participants will need to
      read before the session in order to be well prepared.

   Publication of the working group agenda shall include sending a copy
   of the agenda to the working group mailing list and to

   All working group actions shall be taken in a public forum, and wide
   participation is encouraged. A working group will conduct much of its
   business via electronic mail distribution lists but may meet
   periodically to discuss and review task status and progress, to
   resolve specific issues and to direct future activities. It is
   common, but not required, that a working group will meet at the IETF
   Plenary meetings. Additionally, interim sessions may be scheduled for
   telephone conference, video teleconference, or for face-to-face
   (physical) sessions.

   All working group sessions (including those held outside of the IETF
   meetings) shall be reported by making minutes available.  These
   minutes should include the agenda for the session, an account of the
   discussion including any decisions made, and a list of attendees. The
   Working Group Chair is responsible for insuring that session minutes
   are written and distributed, though the actual task may be performed
   by someone designated by the Working Group Chair. The minutes shall
   be submitted in printable ASCII text for publication in the IETF
   Proceedings, and for posting in the IETF Directories and are to be
   sent to:

3.2. Session venue
   Each working group will determine the balance of email and face-to-
   face sessions that is appropriate for achieving its milestones.
   Electronic mail permits the widest participation; face-to-face
   meetings often permit better focus and therefore can be more
   efficient for reaching a consensus among a core of the working group
   participants.  In determining the balance, the WG must ensure that
   its process does not serve to exclude contribution by email-only
   participants.  Also note that decisions reached during IETF meetings
   are NOT final, but MUST be conveyed to the mailing list to verify WG

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   IETF Meetings
   If a WG needs a session at an IETF meeting, the Chair must apply for
   time-slots as soon as the first announcement of that IETF meeting is
   made by the IETF Secretariat to the WG-chairs list.  Session time is
   a scarce resource at IETF meetings, so placing requests early will
   facilitate schedule coordination for WGs requiring the same set of

   The application for a WG session at an IETF meeting MUST be made to
   the IETF Secretariat at the address  Some Area
   Directors may want to coordinate WG sessions in their area and
   request that time slots be coordinated through them.  If this is the
   case it will be noted in the IETF meeting announcement. A WG
   scheduling request MUST contain:
   - The working group name and full title;
   -  The amount of time requested;
   -  The rough outline of the WG agenda that is expected to be covered;
   -  The estimated number of people that will attend the WG  session;
   -  Related WGs that should not be scheduled for the same time
      slot(s); and
   -  Optionally a request can be added for the WG session to be
      transmitted over the Internet in audio and video..

   NOTE:  While open discussion and contribution is essential to working
   group success, the Chair is responsible for ensuring forward
   progress.  When acceptable to the WG, the Chair may call for
   restricted participation (but not restricted attendance!) at IETF
   working group sessions for the purpose of achieving progress. The
   Working Group Chair then has the authority to refuse to grant the
   floor to any individual who is unprepared or otherwise covering
   inappropriate material, or who, in the opinion of the Chair is
   disrupting the WG process.  The Chair should consult with the Area
   Director(s) if the individual persists in disruptive behavior.

   It can be quite useful to conduct email exchanges in the same manner
   as a face-to-face session, with published schedule and agenda, as
   well as on-going summarization and consensus polling.

   Many working group participants hold that mailing list discussion is
   the best place to consider and resolve issues and make decisions.
   Choice of operational style is made by the working group itself.  It
   is important to note, however, that Internet email discussion is
   possible for a much wider base of interested persons than is
   attendance at IETF meetings, due to the time and expense required to

   As with face-to-face sessions occasionally one or more individuals

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   may engage in behavior on a mailing list which disrupts the WG's
   progress.  In these cases the Chair should attempt to discourage the
   behavior by communication directly with the offending individual
   rather than on the open mailing list.  If the behavior persists then
   the Chair must involve the Area Director in the issue.  As a last
   resort and after explicit warnings, the Area Director, with the
   approval of the IESG, may request that the mailing list maintainer
   block the ability of the offending individual to post to the mailing
   list. (If the mailing list software permits this type of operation.)
   Even if this is done, the individual must not be prevented from
   receiving messages posted to the list.

3.3. Session management
   Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process.
   IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although
   this is, of course, preferred.  In general the dominant view of the
   working group shall prevail.  (However, it must be noted that
   "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or
   persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement.) Consensus
   can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on
   which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course).  Note that 51%
   of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is
   better than rough.  It is up to the Chair to determine that rough
   consensus has been reached.

   The challenge to managing working group sessions is to balance the
   need for open and fair consideration of the issues against the need
   to make forward progress.  The working group, as a whole, has the
   final responsibility for striking this balance.  The Chair has the
   responsibility for overseeing the process but may delegate direct
   process management to a formally-designated Facilitator.

   It is occasionally appropriate to revisit a topic, to re-evaluate
   alternatives or to improve the group's understanding of a relevant
   decision.  However, unnecessary repeated discussions on issues can be
   avoided if the Chair makes sure that the main arguments in the
   discussion (and the outcome) are summarized and archived after a
   discussion has come to conclusion. It is also good practice to note
   important decisions/consensus reached by email in the minutes of the
   next 'live' session, and to summarize briefly the decision-making
   history in the final documents the WG produces.

   To facilitate making forward progress, a Working Group Chair may wish
   to decide to reject or defer the input from a member, based upon the
   following criteria:

   The input pertains to a topic that already has been resolved and is

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   redundant with information previously available;

   The input is new and pertains to a topic that has already been
   resolved, but it is felt to be of minor import to the existing

   The input pertains to a topic that the working group has not yet
   opened for discussion; or

   The input is outside of the scope of the working group charter.

3.4. Contention and appeals
   Disputes are possible at various stages during the IETF process. As
   much as possible the process is designed so that compromises can be
   made, and genuine consensus achieved, however there are times when
   even the most reasonable and knowledgeable people are unable to
   agree. To achieve the goals of openness and fairness, such conflicts
   must be resolved by a process of open review and discussion.

   Formal procedures for requesting a review of WG, Chair, Area Director
   or IESG actions and conducting appeals are documented in The Internet
   Standards Process [1].

4. Working Group Termination
   Working groups are typically chartered to accomplish a specific task
   or tasks. After the tasks are complete, the group will be disbanded.
   However if a WG produces a Proposed or Draft Standard, the WG will
   become dormant rather than disband (i.e., the WG will no longer
   conduct formal activities, but the mailing list will remain available
   to review the work as it moves to Draft Standard and Standard

   If, at some point, it becomes evident that a working group is unable
   to complete the work outlined in the charter, or if the assumptions
   which that work was based have been modified in discussion or by
   experience, the Area Director, in consultation with the working group
   can either:

   1. Recharter to refocus its tasks,
   2. Choose new Chair(s), or
   3. Disband.

   If the working group disagrees with the Area Director's choice, it
   may appeal to the IESG. (see section 3.4)

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5. Rechartering a Working Group
   Updated milestones are re-negotiated with the Area Director and the
   IESG, as needed, and then are submitted to the IESG Secretariat:

   Rechartering (other than revising milestones) a working group follows
   the same procedures that the initial chartering does. (see section 2)
   The revised charter must be submitted to the IESG and IAB for
   approval.  As with the initial chartering, the IESG may approve new
   charter as-is, it may request that changes be made in the new charter
   (including having the Working Group continue to use the old charter),
   or it may decline to approve the rechartered working group.  In the
   latter case the working group is disbanded.

6. Staff Roles
   Working groups require considerable care and feeding.  In addition to
   general participation, successful working groups benefit from the
   efforts of participants filling specific functional roles.  The Area
   Director must agree to the specific people performing the WG Chair,
   and Working Group Consultant roles, and they serve at the discretion
   of the Area Director.

6.1. WG Chair
   The Working Group Chair is concerned with making forward progress
   through a fair and open process, and has wide discretion in the
   conduct of WG business.  The Chair must ensure that a number of tasks
   are performed, either directly or by others assigned to the tasks.

   The Chair has the responsibility and the authority to make decisions,
   on behalf of the working group, regarding all matters of working
   group process and staffing, in conformance with the rules of the
   IETF.  The AD has the authority and the responsibility to assist in
   making those decisions at the request of the Chair or when
   circumstances warrant such an intervention.

   The Chair's responsibility encompasses at least the following:

   Ensure WG process and content management
   The Chair has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that a working
   group achieves forward progress and meets its milestones.  The Chair
   is also responsible to ensure that the working group operates in an
   open and fair manner.  For some working groups, this can be
   accomplished by having the Chair perform all management-related
   activities.  In other working groups -- particularly those with large
   or divisive participation -- it is helpful to allocate process and/or
   secretarial functions to other participants.  Process management
   pertains strictly to the style of working group interaction and not
   to its content. It ensures fairness and detects redundancy.  The

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   secretarial function encompasses document editing.  It is quite
   common for a working group to assign the task of specification Editor
   to one or two participants.  Sometimes, they also are part of the
   design team, described below.

   Moderate the WG email list
   The Chair should attempt to ensure that the discussions on this list
   are relevant and that they converge to consensus agreements. The
   Chair should make sure that discussions on the list are summarized
   and that the outcome is well documented (to avoid repetition).  The
   Chair also may choose to schedule organized on-line "sessions" with
   agenda and deliverables.  These can be structured as true meetings,
   conducted over the course of several days (to allow participation
   across the Internet.)  Organize, prepare and chair face-to-face & on-
   line formal sessions

   Plan WG Sessions
   The Chair must plan and announce all WG sessions well in advance.
   (See section 3.1)

   Communicate results of sessions
   The Chair and/or Secretary must ensure that minutes of a session are
   taken and that an attendance list is circulated. (See section 3.1)

   Immediately after a session, the WG Chair MUST provide the Area
   Director with a very short report (approximately one paragraph, via
   email) on the session.

   Distribute the workload
   Of course each WG will have participants who may not be able (or
   want) to do any work at all. Most of the time the bulk of the work is
   done by a few dedicated participants. It is the task of the Chair to
   motivate enough experts to allow for a fair distribution of the

   Document development
   Working groups produce documents and documents need authors. The
   Chair must make sure that authors of WG documents incorporate changes
   as agreed to by the WG.  (See section 6.3)

   Document publication
   The Chair and/or Document Editor will work with the RFC Editor to
   ensure document conformance with RFC publication requirements and to
   coordinate any editorial changes suggested by the RFC Editor.  A
   particular concern is that all participants are working from the same
   version of a document at the same time.

   Document implementations

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   Under the procedures described in [1] the Chair is responsible for
   documenting the specific implementations which qualify the
   specification for Draft or Internet Standard status along with
   documentation about testing of the interoperation of these

6.2. WG Secretary
   Taking minutes and editing working group documents often is performed
   by a specifically-designated participant or set of participants.  In
   this role, the Secretary's job is to record WG decisions, rather than
   to perform basic specification.

6.3. 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.

6.4. WG Facilitator
   When meetings tend to become distracted or divisive, it often is
   helpful to assign the task of "process management" to one
   participant.  Their job is to oversee the nature, rather than the
   content, of participant interactions.  That is, they attend to the
   style of the discussion and to the schedule of the agenda, rather
   than making direct technical contributions themselves.

6.5. Design teams
   It is often useful, and perhaps inevitable, for a sub-group of a
   working group to develop a proposal to solve a particular problem.
   Such a sub-group is called a design team.  In order for a design team
   to remain small and agile, it is acceptable to have closed membership
   and private meetings.  Design teams may range from an informal chat
   between people in a hallway to a formal set of expert volunteers that
   the WG chair or AD appoints to attack a controversial problem.  The
   output of a design team is always subject to approval, rejection or
   modification by the WG as a whole.

6.6. Working Group Consultant
   At the discretion of the Area Director, a Consultant may be assigned
   to a working group.  Consultants have specific technical background
   appropriate to the WG and experience in Internet architecture and

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   IETF process.

6.7. Area Director
   Area Directors are responsible for ensuring that working groups in
   their area produce coherent, coordinated, architecturally consistent
   and timely output as a contribution to the overall results of the

7.  Working Group Documents

7.1. Session documents
   All relevant documents for a session should be published and
   available as Internet-Drafts at least two weeks before a session
   starts.  Any document which does not meet this publication deadline
   can only be discussed in a working group session with the specific
   approval of the working group chair(s).  The final session agenda
   should be posted to the working group mailing list at two weeks
   before the session.

7.2. IETF meeting documents
   In preparing for an IETF meeting it is helpful to have ready access
   to all documents that are being reviewed.  Thus all documents which
   will be under discussion in a working group session must be published
   as Internet-Drafts before the session.

7.3. Internet-Drafts (I-D)
   The Internet-Drafts directory is provided to working groups as a
   resource for posting and disseminating in-process copies of working
   group documents. This repository is replicated at various locations
   around the Internet. It is encouraged that draft documents be posted
   as soon as they become reasonably stable.

   It is stressed here that Internet-Drafts are working documents and
   have no official standards status whatsoever. They may, eventually,
   turn into a standards-track document or they may sink from sight.
   Internet-Drafts are submitted to:

   The format of an Internet-Draft must be the same as for an RFC [2].
   Further, an I-D must contain:

   -  Beginning, standard, boilerplate text which is provided by the
      Secretariat on their web site and in the ftp directory;
   -  The I-D filename; and
   -  The expiration date for the I-D.

   Complete specification of requirements for an Internet-Draft are
   found in the file "1id-guidelines.txt" in the Internet-Drafts
   directory at an Internet Repository site.  The organization of the

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   Internet-Drafts directory is found in the file "1id-organization" in
   the Internet-Drafts directory at an Internet Repository site.  This
   file also contains the rules for naming Internet-Drafts (See [1] for
   more information about Internet-Drafts.)

7.4. Request For Comments (RFC)
   The work of an IETF working group often results in publication of one
   or more documents, as part of the Request For Comments (RFCs) [1]
   series. This series is the archival publication record for the
   Internet community. A document can be written by an individual in a
   working group, by a group as a whole with a designated Editor, or by
   others not involved with the IETF.

   NOTE:  The RFC series is a publication mechanism only and publication
   does not determine the IETF status of a document.  Status is
   determined through separate, explicit status labels assigned by the
   IESG on behalf of the IETF.  In other words, the reader is reminded
   that all Internet Standards are published as RFCs, but NOT all RFCs
   specify standards. [4]

7.5. Working Group Last-Call
   When a WG decides that a document is ready for publication it may be
   submitted to the IESG for consideration. In most cases the
   determination that a WG feels that a document is ready for
   publication is done by the WG Chair issuing a working group Last-
   Call.  The decision to issue a working group Last-Call is at the
   discretion of the WG Chair working with the Area Director.  A working
   group Last-Call serves the same purpose within a working group that
   an IESG Last-Call does in the broader IETF community. (See [1].)

7.6 Submission of documents
   Once that a WG has determined that at least rough consensus exists
   within the WG for the advancement of a document the following must be
   -  The version of the relevant document exactly as agreed to by the
      WG MUST be in the Internet-Drafts directory;
   -  The relevant document MUST be formatted according to RFC rules
   -  The WG Chair MUST send email to the relevant Area Director.  A
      copy of the request MUST be also sent to the IESG Secretariat.
      The mail MUST contain the reference to the document's ID filename,
      and the action requested.

   Unless returned to the WG for further development, progressing of the
   document is then the responsibility of the IESG.  After IESG
   approval, responsibility for final disposition is the joint
   responsibility of the RFC Editor, the WG Chair and the Document

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8. Review of documents
   The IESG reviews all documents submitted for publication as RFCs.
   Usually minimal IESG review is necessary in the case of a submission
   from a WG intended as an Informational or Experimental RFC. More
   extensive review is undertaken in the case of standards-track

   Prior to the IESG beginning their deliberations on standards-track
   documents, IETF Secretariat will issue a "Last-Call" to the IETF
   mailing list. (See [1])  This Last Call will announce the intention
   of the IESG to consider the document, and it will solicit final
   comments from the IETF within a period of two weeks.  It is important
   to note that a Last-Call is intended as a brief, final check with the
   Internet community, to make sure that no important concerns have been
   missed or misunderstood. The Last-Call should not serve as a more
   general, in-depth review.

   The IESG review takes into account responses to the Last-Call and
   will lead to one of these possible conclusions:
   1. The document is accepted as is for the status requested.
      This fact will be announced by the IETF Secretariat to the IETF
      mailing list and to the RFC Editor.

   2. The document is accepted as-is but not for the status requested.
      This fact will be announced by the IETF Secretariat to the IETF
      mailing list and to the RFC Editor. (see [1] for more details)

   3. Changes regarding content are suggested to the author(s)/WG.
      Suggestions from the IESG must be clear and direct, so as to
      facilitate working group and author correction of the
      specification. If the author(s)/WG can  explain to the
      satisfaction of the IESG why the changes are not necessary, the
      document will be accepted for publication as under point 1, above.
      If the changes are made the revised document may be resubmitted
      for IESG review.

   4. Changes are suggested by the IESG and a change in status is
      The process described above for 3 and 2 are followed in that

   5. The document is rejected.
      Any document rejection will be accompanied by specific and
      thorough arguments from the IESG. Although the IETF and working
      group process is structured such that this alternative is not
      likely to arise for documents coming from a working group the IESG
      has the right and responsibility to reject documents that the IESG

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      feels are fatally flawed in some way.

      If any individual or group of individuals feels that the review
      treatment has been unfair, there is the opportunity to make a
      procedural complaint. The mechanism for this type of complaints is
      described in [1].

9. Security Considerations
   Documents describing IETF processes, such as this one, do not have an
   impact on the security of the network infrastructure or of Internet

   It should be noted that all IETF working groups are required to
   examine and understand the security implications of any technology
   they develop.  This analysis must be included in any resulting RFCs
   in a Security Considerations section.  Note that merely noting a
   significant security hole is no longer sufficient.  IETF developed
   technologies should not add insecurity to the environment in which
   they are run.

10. Acknowledgments
   This revision of this document relies heavily on the previous version
   (RFC 1603) which was edited by Erik Huizer and Dave Crocker.  It has
   been reviewed by the poisson working group.

11. References
   [1] Bradner, S. Ed., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3",
      RFC 2026, Harvard University, October 1996.
   [2] Hovey, R., S. Bradner, "The Organizations involved in the IETF
      Standards Process", RFC 2028, Digital Equipment Corp., Harvard
      University, October 1996
   [3] Gavin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and Recall
      Process:  Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees", RFC
      2027, CommerceNet, October 1996
   [4] Huitema, C., J. Postel, S. Crocker, "Not all RFCs are Standards",
      RFC 1796, INRIA, ISI, CyberCash, April 1995
   [5] Postel, J., "Instructions to RFC Authors", RFC 1543,
      USC/Information Sciences Institute, October 1993.
   [6] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
      Level", RFC 2119, March 1997

12. Authors' Address
        Scott Bradner
        Harvard University
        1350 Mass Ave.
        Cambridge MA

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        phone +1 617 495 3864

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   Appendix:  Sample Working Group Charter

   Working Group Name:
        IP Telephony (iptel)

   IETF Area:
        Transport Area

        Jonathan Rosenberg <>

   Transport Area Director(s):
        Scott Bradner <>
        Allyn Romanow <>

   Transport Area Advisor:
        Allyn Romanow <>

   Mailing Lists:
        To Subscribe:

   Description of Working Group:

   Before Internet telephony can become a widely deployed service, a
   number of protocols must be deployed. These include signaling and
   capabilities exchange, but also include a number of "peripheral"
   protocols for providing related services.

   The primary purpose of this working group is to develop two such
   supportive protocols and a frameword document. They are:

   1. Call Processing Syntax. When a call is setup between two
   endpoints, the signaling will generally pass through several servers
   (such as an H.323 gatekeeper) which are responsible for forwarding,
   redirecting, or proxying the signaling messages. For example, a user
   may make a call to The signaling message to
   initiate the call will arrive at some server at bigcompany. This
   server can inform the caller that the callee is busy, forward the
   call initiation request to another server closer to the user, or drop
   the call completely (among other possibilities). It is very desirable
   to allow the callee to provide input to this process, guiding the
   server in its decision on how to act. This can enable a wide variety
   of advanced personal mobility and call agent services.

   Such preferences can be expressed in a call processing syntax, which
   can be authored by the user (or generated automatically by some

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   tool), and then uploaded to the server. The group will develop this
   syntax, and specify means of securely transporting and extending it.
   The result will be a single standards track RFC.

   2. In addition, the group will write a service model document, which
   describes the services that are enabled by the call processing
   syntax, and discusses how the syntax can be used. This document will
   result in a single RFC.

   3. Gateway Attribute Distribution Protocol. When making a call
   between an IP host and a PSTN user, a telephony gateway must be used.
   The selection of such gateways can be based on many criteria,
   including client expressed preferences, service provider preferences,
   and availability of gateways, in addition to destination telephone
   number. Since gateways outside of the hosts' administrative domain
   might be used, a protocol is required to allow gateways in remote
   domains to distribute their attributes (such as PSTN connectivity,
   supported codecs, etc.) to entities in other domains which must make
   a selection of a gateway. The protocol must allow for scalable,
   bandwidth efficient, and very secure transmission of these
   attributes. The group will investigate and design a protocol for this
   purpose, generate an Internet Draft, and advance it to RFC as

   Goals and Milestones:

   May 98    Issue first Internet-Draft on service framework
   Jul 98    Submit framework ID to IESG for publication as an RFC.
   Aug 98    Issue first Internet-Draft on Call Processing Syntax
   Oct 98    Submit Call processing syntax to IESG for consideration
             as a Proposed Standard.
   Dec 98    Achieve consensus on basics of gateway attribute
             distribution protocol
   Jan 99    Submit Gateway Attribute Distribution protocol to IESG
             for consideration as a RFC (info, exp, stds track TB

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