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Entities Involved in the IETF Standards Process

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 9281.
Author Rich Salz
Last updated 2022-06-30 (Latest revision 2022-03-14)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Best Current Practice
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd Eliot Lear
IESG IESG state Became RFC 9281 (Best Current Practice)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Lars Eggert
Send notices to
IANA IANA review state Version Changed - Review Needed
IANA action state No IANA Actions
???                                                              R. Salz
Internet-Draft                                       Akamai Technologies
Obsoletes: 2028 (if approved)                              14 March 2022
Intended status: Best Current Practice                                  
Expires: 15 September 2022

            Entities Involved in the IETF Standards Process


   This document describes the individuals and organizations involved in
   the IETF standards process, as described in IETF BCP 9.  It includes
   brief descriptions of the entities involved, and the role they play
   in the standards process.

   The IETF and its structure have undergone many changes since 1996,
   when RFC 2028 was published.  This document reflects the changed
   organizational structure of the IETF and obsoletes RFC 2028.

Discussion Venues

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   Discussion of this document takes place on the GENDISPATCH mailing
   list (], which is archived at

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   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."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 15 September 2022.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2022 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.  Code Components
   extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as
   described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.2.  Changes since RFC 2028  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Key Individuals in the Process  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  The Document Editor or Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  The Working Group Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.3.  The Area Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.  Key Organizations in the Process  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.1.  Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)  . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.2.  Working Groups (WGs)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.3.  Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)  . . . . . . .   6
     3.4.  Internet Architecture Board (IAB) . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.5.  The RFC Production Center (RPC) . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.6.  Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)  . . . . . . .   7
     3.7.  Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.8.  The IETF Trust  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.9.  IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC)  . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.10. IETF Secretariat  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.11. Internet Society (ISOC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   7.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

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1.  Introduction

   The process used by the IETF community for the standardization of
   protocols and procedures is described in [IETFPROCS].  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.  This document identifies some of the key
   individual roles and organizations in that process.

1.1.  Terminology

   This document refers to individual roles in the singular, such as "a
   Document Editor."  In reality, many roles are filled by more than one
   person at the same time.  For clarity, this document does not use
   phrases like "Chair (or co-chair)."

1.2.  Changes since RFC 2028

   The following changes have been made, in no particular order:

   *  Added the role of Responsible Area Director (AD) and re-ordered
      Section 2 to follow the typical workflow.

   *  Added the IETF Administration LLC and the IETF Trust to Section 3.

   *  Changed RFC Editor to RFC Production Center, to reflect the
      changes made by [RFCEDMODEL].

   *  Added Section 6 and Section 1.1 and cleaned up some wording
      throughout the document.

2.  Key Individuals in the Process

   This section describes the individual roles involved in the process.
   It attempts to list the roles in the order in which they are involved
   in the process, without otherwise expressing significance.

2.1.  The Document Editor or Author

   Most Working Groups (WGs) focus their efforts on one or more
   documents that capture their work results.  The Working Group Chair
   designates one or more people to serve as the Editor(s) for a
   particular document.  They are responsible for ensuring that the
   contents of the document accurately reflect the decisions that have
   been made by the Working Group.

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   When a document is composed and edited mainly by one or more
   individuals, they may be referred to as Document Authors.  The
   distinction is not significant for the standards process.  This
   document uses the term Document Editor.

   When a Document Editor is a Chair of the same Working Group, another
   Chair should manage the process around the document.  If another
   Chair is not available, the WG and AD must monitor the process
   especially carefully to ensure that the resulting documents
   accurately reflect the consensus of the Working Group and that all
   processes are followed.  This is the collective obligation of all
   parties involved in the document.

2.2.  The Working Group Chair

   Each Working Group is headed by a Chair who has the responsibility
   for facilitating 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 Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), via the AD of
   the area to which the WG belongs.

   The details on the selection and responsibilities of a Working Group
   Chair can be found in [WGPROCS].

2.3.  The Area Director

   Each Working Group is assigned a single responsible Area Director
   (AD).  The AD can assist the WG chair in assessing consensus and
   executing process.  The AD also reviews documents after the WG has
   approved them and, when satisfied, the AD coordinates the IESG review
   and IETF last call of of the document.

   An AD can also sponsor a draft directly, but this is not very common.
   When this is done, a Working Group is not involved.

   Except for the General Area, IETF Areas traditionally have multiple
   Area Directors.

3.  Key Organizations in the Process

   The following organizations and organizational roles are involved in
   the Internet standards process.

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3.1.  Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

   The IETF is an open international community of network designers,
   operators, implementors, researchers, and other interested parties
   who are 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
   and related documents.

3.2.  Working Groups (WGs)

   The technical work of the IETF is done in its Working Groups, which
   are organized by topics into several Areas
   (, each one under the coordination
   of an Area Director.  Working Groups typically have a narrow focus
   and a lifetime bounded by completion of specific tasks as defined in
   their charter and milestones.  Some Working Groups are long-lived
   intended to conduct ongoing maintenance on IETF protocol(s).  There
   are also "dispatch" Working Groups whose role is to assess where new
   work in the IETF should be done, not directly produce standards.

   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 individuals who participate in
   IETF and Working Group activities.  These individuals do not formally
   represent any organizations they may be affiliated with, although
   affiliations are often used for identification.

   Anyone with the time and interest to do so is entitled and urged to
   participate actively in one or more Working Groups and to attend IETF
   meetings, which are usually held three times a year [MEETINGS].  A WG
   may also schedule interim meetings (virtual, in-person, or hybrid).
   These are scheduled and announced to the entire WG.  Active Working
   Group participation is possible without attending any in-person

   Participants in the IETF and its Working Groups must disclose 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 technology.  The full
   intellectual property policy is defined in [IPRRIGHTS1] and

   New Working Groups are established by the IESG and almost always have
   a specific and explicit charter.  The charter can be modified as the
   Working Group progresses.  The guidelines and procedures for the
   formation and operation of Working Groups are described in detail in

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   A Working Group is managed by a Working Group Chair, as described in
   Section 2.2.  Documents produced by the group have an Editor, as
   described in Section 2.1.  Further details of Working Group operation
   can be found in [WGPROCS].

   Working Groups ideally 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 excellent
   protocols and services.

3.3.  Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)

   The IESG is responsible for the management of the IETF technical
   activities.  It administers the Internet Standards process according
   to the rules and procedures defined in [IETFPROCS].  The IESG is
   responsible for the actions associated with the progression of
   documents along the "IETF stream," including the initial approval of
   new Working Groups, any subsequent rechartering, and the final
   approval of documents.  The IESG is composed of the Area Directors
   and the IETF Chair, who also chairs the IESG and is the Area Director
   for the General Area.  The Chair of the Internet Architecture Board
   (IAB) is an ex-officio member of the IESG.  Various other bodies have
   liaisons with the IESG.

   All members of the IESG are nominated by a Nominations Committee
   (colloquially, NomCom), and are confirmed by the IAB.  See [NOMCOM]
   for a detailed description of the NomCom procedures.  Other matters
   concerning its organization and operation are described in the IESG
   charter [IESG].

3.4.  Internet Architecture Board (IAB)

   The IAB provides oversight of the architecture of the Internet and
   its protocols.  The IAB approves IESG candidates put forward by the
   NomCom.  It also reviews all proposed WG charters.

   The IAB provides oversight of the standards process and serves as an
   appeal board for related complaints about improper execution
   [IETFPROCS].  In general, it acts as a source of advice about
   technical, architectural, procedural, and policy matters pertaining
   to the Internet and its enabling technologies.

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   The members of the IAB are nominated by the NomCom, and are confirmed
   by the Board of the Internet Society (ISOC).  The IETF Chair is also
   a member of the IAB, and the Chair of the Internet Research Task
   Force (IRTF) is an ex-officio member.  Other matters concerning the
   IAB's organization and operation are described in the IAB charter

3.5.  The RFC Production Center (RPC)

   Publication of RFCs is handled by the RFC Production Center (RPC),
   including editorial preparation and publication.  RFC policy is
   defined by the RFC Series Working Group (RSWG), an open group
   (similar to IETF Working Groups), and approved by the RFC Advisory
   Board (RSAB), which has appointed members.  The RFC Series Consulting
   Editor (RSCE) is a position funded by the IETF LLC, with
   responsibilities to consult with all parties, and be a member of the

   Full details on the roles and responsibilities of the RPC are
   specified in [RFCEDMODEL], in particular Section 4.

3.6.  Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

   Many protocol specifications include parameters that must be uniquely
   assigned.  Examples of this include port numbers, option identifiers
   within a protocol, and so on.  The Internet Assigned Numbers
   Authority (IANA) is responsible for assigning values to these
   protocol parameters, maintained in parameter registries.  These
   registries are maintained online (
   Assignments are coordinated by writing an "IANA Considerations"
   section for a given document, as descrribed in [IANADOCS].  The
   IETF's relationship with IANA is defined by formal agreements,
   including [IANAMOU].

   IANA also is responsible for operating and maintaining several
   aspects of the DNS ( and coordinating of
   IP address assignments (

3.7.  Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)

   The IRTF focuses on longer-term research issues related to the
   Internet as a parallel organization to the IETF, which focuses on the
   shorter-term issues of engineering, operations, and specification of

   The IRTF consists of a number of Research Groups (RGs) chartered to
   research various aspects related to the broader Internet.  The
   products of these RGs are typically research results that are often

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   published in scholarly conferences and journals, but can also be
   published as RFCs on the IRTF's RFC stream.  RGs also sometimes
   develop experimental protocols or technologies, some of which may be
   suitable for possible standardization in IETF.  Similarly, IETF
   working groups sometimes ask RGs for advice or other input.
   Contributions from RGs, however, in general carry no more weight in
   the IETF than other community input, and go through the same
   standards setting process as any other proposal.

   The IRTF is managed by the IRTF Chair in consultation with the
   Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG).  The IRSG membership
   includes the IRTF Chair, the Chairs of the various RG and possibly
   other individuals ("members at large") from the community.  Details
   of the organization and operation of the IRTF, the ISRG, and its RGs
   may be found in [IRTF], [IABIRTF], [IRTFPRIMER], and [IRTFCHAIR].

3.8.  The IETF Trust

   The IETF Trust is the legal owner of intellectual property for the
   IETF, IRTF, and IAB.  This includes their trademarks, the copyrights
   to RFCs and to works of the IETF such as the IETF web site, and
   copyright licenses for IETF contributions including Internet Drafts.
   The principles for the copyright licenses granted to and from the
   Trust are described in [IPRRIGHTS1] and [COPYRIGHT], and the licenses
   themselves are in the Trust Legal Provisions

   The Trust also currently owns IANA's domain names and trademarks
   through an agreement with the IANA clients.

   The Trustees that govern the Trust are selected from the IETF
   community, as described in [TRUSTEES] and the rationale given in

3.9.  IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC)

   The IETF Administration Limited Liability Corporation (colloquially,
   the IETF LLC) provides the corporate legal home for the IETF, the
   IAB, and the IRTF.

   The IETF LLC is responsible for supporting the ongoing operations of
   the IETF, managing its finances and budget, and raising money.  It
   regularly reports to the community.  The LLC is the legal entity that
   signs contracts for the IETF Secretariat, meeting hotels, tools
   development contractors, among many others.  The LLC also responds to
   legal requests; these are often subpoenas in patent lawsuits.

   Selection of the LLC Board of Directors is defined in [NOMCOM].

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   The IETF Executive Director handles the IETF's daily tasks and
   management, and is overseen by the LLC Board of Directors.

   [ISOCIETF], Section 6 describes the legal relationship between the
   IETF LLC and the Internet Society.

3.10.  IETF Secretariat

   The administrative functions necessary to support the activities of
   the IETF and its various related boards and organizations are
   performed by a Secretariat contracted by the IETF LLC.  The IETF
   Secretariat handles much of the logistics of running the in-person
   meetings, and is responsible for maintaining the formal public record
   of the Internet standards process [IETFPROCS].

3.11.  Internet Society (ISOC)

   ISOC plays an important role in the standards process.  In addition
   to being the legal entity that hosts the IETF LLC, ISOC appoints the
   NomCom Chair, confirms IAB candidates selected by the NomCom, and
   acts as the final authority in the appeals process.  This is
   described in [ISOCIETF].

   The way in which the the ISOC leadership is selected, and other
   matters concerning the operation of the Internet Society, are
   described in [ISOC].

4.  Security Considerations

   This document introduces no new security considerations.

5.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA actions.

6.  Acknowledgements

   We are grateful to the authors of [RFC2028], Richard Hovey and Scott

   Barry Lieba, Colin Perkins, Eric Auerswald, John Levine, and Lars
   Eggert provided useful feedback and corrections to this document.

7.  Informative References

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              Halpern, J., Ed., "Advice to the Trustees of the IETF
              Trust on Rights to Be Granted in IETF Documents",
              RFC 8721, DOI 10.17487/RFC8721, February 2020,

   [IAB]      Internet Architecture Board and B. Carpenter, Ed.,
              "Charter of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB)",
              BCP 39, RFC 2850, May 2000.


   [IABIRTF]  Floyd, S., Ed., Paxson, V., Ed., Falk, A., Ed., and IAB,
              "IAB Thoughts on the Role of the Internet Research Task
              Force (IRTF)", RFC 4440, DOI 10.17487/RFC4440, March 2006,

   [IANADOCS] Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, "Guidelines for
              Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26,
              RFC 8126, June 2017.


   [IANAMOU]  Carpenter, B., Baker, F., and M. Roberts, "Memorandum of
              Understanding Concerning the Technical Work of the
              Internet Assigned Numbers Authority", RFC 2860,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2860, June 2000,

   [IESG]     Alvestrand, H., "An IESG charter", RFC 3710,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3710, February 2004,

              Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

              Dusseault, L. and R. Sparks, "Guidance on Interoperation
              and Implementation Reports for Advancement to Draft
              Standard", BCP 9, RFC 5657, September 2009.

              Housley, R., Crocker, D., and E. Burger, "Reducing the
              Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels", BCP 9, RFC 6410,
              October 2011.

              Resnick, P., "Retirement of the "Internet Official
              Protocol Standards" Summary Document", BCP 9, RFC 7100,
              December 2013.

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              Kolkman, O., Bradner, S., and S. Turner, "Characterization
              of Proposed Standards", BCP 9, RFC 7127, January 2014.

              Dawkins, S., "Increasing the Number of Area Directors in
              an IETF Area", BCP 9, RFC 7475, March 2015.

              Halpern, J., Ed. and E. Rescorla, Ed., "IETF Stream
              Documents Require IETF Rough Consensus", BCP 9, RFC 8789,
              June 2020.


              Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
              Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378,
              November 2008.


              Bradner, S. and J. Contreras, "Intellectual Property
              Rights in IETF Technology", BCP 79, RFC 8179, May 2017.


   [IRTF]     Weinrib, A. and J. Postel, "IRTF Research Group Guidelines
              and Procedures", BCP 8, RFC 2014, DOI 10.17487/RFC2014,
              October 1996, <>.

              Eggert, L., "The Role of the IRTF Chair", RFC 7827,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7827, March 2016,

              Dawkins, S., Ed., "An IRTF Primer for IETF Participants",
              RFC 7418, DOI 10.17487/RFC7418, December 2014,

   [ISOC]     "Amended and restated By-Laws of the Internet Society",
              March 2021, <

   [ISOCIETF] Camarillo, G. and J. Livingood, "The IETF-ISOC
              Relationship", RFC 8712, DOI 10.17487/RFC8712, February
              2020, <>.

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   [MEETINGS] Krishnan, S., "High-Level Guidance for the Meeting Policy
              of the IETF", BCP 226, RFC 8719, DOI 10.17487/RFC8719,
              February 2020, <>.

   [NOMCOM]   Kucherawy, M., Ed., Hinden, R., Ed., and J. Livingood,
              Ed., "IAB, IESG, IETF Trust, and IETF LLC Selection,
              Confirmation, and Recall Process: Operation of the IETF
              Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP 10, RFC 8713,
              February 2020.

              Leiba, B., "Eligibility for the 2020-2021 Nominating
              Committee", BCP 10, RFC 8788, May 2020.


   [RFC2028]  Hovey, R. and S. Bradner, "The Organizations Involved in
              the IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2028, October 1996,

              "RFC Editor Model (Version 3)", n.d.,

   [TRUSTEES] Arkko, J. and T. Hardie, "Update to the Process for
              Selection of Trustees for the IETF Trust", BCP 101,
              RFC 8714, DOI 10.17487/RFC8714, February 2020,

   [TRUSTRAT] Arkko, J., "IETF Administrative Support Activity 2.0:
              Update to the Process for Selection of Trustees for the
              IETF Trust", RFC 8715, DOI 10.17487/RFC8715, February
              2020, <>.

   [WGPROCS]  Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

              Wasserman, M., "Updates to RFC 2418 Regarding the
              Management of IETF Mailing Lists", BCP 25, RFC 3934,
              October 2004.

              Resnick, P. and A. Farrel, "IETF Anti-Harassment
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 7776, March 2016.

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              Resnick, P. and A. Farrel, "Update to the IETF Anti-
              Harassment Procedures for the Replacement of the IETF
              Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC) with the IETF
              Administration LLC", BCP 25, RFC 8716, February 2020.


Author's Address

   Rich Salz
   Akamai Technologies

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