TitleAn IESG charter
AuthorH. Alvestrand
DateFebruary 2004
Format:TXT, HTML
Updated byRFC3932, RFC5742, RFC8717

Network Working Group                                      H. Alvestrand
Request for Comments: 3710                                 Cisco Systems
Category: Informational                                    February 2004

                            An IESG charter

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.


   This memo provides a charter for the Internet Engineering Steering
   Group (IESG), a management function of the Internet Engineering Task
   Force (IETF).  It is meant to document the charter of the IESG as it
   is presently understood.

1.  Introduction

1.1.  The Role of the IESG

   The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) is the group
   responsible for the direct operation of the IETF and for ensuring the
   quality of work produced by the IETF.

   The IESG charters and terminates working groups, selects their
   chairs, monitors their progress and coordinates efforts between them.
   The IESG performs technical review and approval of working group
   documents and candidates for the IETF standards track, and reviews
   other candidates for publication in the RFC series.  It also
   administers IETF logistics, including operation of the Internet-Draft
   document series and the IETF meeting event.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

1.2.  Historic Note

   The role of the IESG in the IETF management structure has been
   largely constant since 1993, after the significant changes introduced
   by the "POISED" process, and documented in RFC 1602 [5].  (The
   previous process was documented in RFC 1310 [4]; RFC 1602 has later
   been updated by RFC 1871 [7] and obsoleted by RFC 2026 [1].)

   Some of the functions were also defined in RFC 1603 [6], Working
   Group Guidelines, which was later obsoleted by RFC 2418 [2].

   As the community has grown, and the IESG has gathered experience, the
   ways in which the IESG has approached its tasks have varied
   considerably, but the tasks have remained relatively constant.

   This document describes the tasks assigned to the IESG.  It does not
   attempt to describe in detail the procedures the IESG uses to
   accomplish these tasks; that is done elsewhere - consult the IESG's
   Web pages on the IETF Website for more information [9].

   At this time (spring 2003), the structure of the IETF is undergoing
   reevaluation, and the result is likely to include changes to the
   IESG's role.  Therefore, this document was written as a
   "documentation of existing practice" rather than as IETF consensus on
   what the IESG should do.

   This document is published as an Informational RFC, detailing the
   current operations of the IESG.  It does not claim to represent
   consensus of the IETF that this is the right set of instructions to
   the IESG.

2.  The Composition of the IESG

   The IESG has the following members:

   o  The IETF Chair, who also functions as the General Area Director
      when this area is active

   o  The Area Directors (ADs) for the IETF Areas

   o  The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) Chair and the IETF Executive
      Director, as ex-officio members of the IESG.

   The IETF Chair and the Area Directors are selected by the IETF NomCom
   according to the procedures of BCP 10 [3] (Nomcom procedures).

   The IETF Executive Director is the person charged with running the
   IETF Secretariat.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

   The IESG also has liaisons, who are members of the IESG mailing list
   and may attend all IESG meetings.  The Liaison positions exist to
   facilitate the work of the IETF by expediting communication with
   other entities involved in the IETF process; which positions to have
   are decided by the IESG.

   The liaisons are selected as appropriate by the bodies they
   represent.  At the time of this writing, the liaisons present
   represent the following bodies:

      The RFC Editor

      The IANA

      The IAB

   In addition, members of the IETF Secretariat are subscribed to the
   mailing list and present in the IESG meetings as needed in order to
   serve as a support function.

   IESG decisions are made by the IETF Chair and the Area Directors.
   All IESG members can participate in the IESG's discussions.

3.  Procedural Issues

   While the IESG is generally free to set its own procedures, some
   parts of its procedures are properly part of its charter.  These are
   given here.

3.1.  Decision Making

   The IESG attempts to reach all decisions unanimously.  If unanimity
   cannot be achieved, the chair may conduct informal polls to determine
   consensus.  There is no general rule on how the IESG takes votes; if
   this had ever been needed, it is likely that the same rule as for the
   IAB would be used (decisions may be taken if at least two thirds of
   the members concur and there are no more than two dissents).

   For the purpose of judging consensus, only the IETF Chair and the
   Area Directors are counted.

   The IESG may decide that other procedures for reaching a decision are
   appropriate under specific conditions.  Such other procedures may

   o  Assertions of IETF consensus, such as when evaluating a standards
      action.  Here, in addition to the technical quality of the
      specification, the IESG has to evaluate the community opinion

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

      about the specification's subject matter; this has to happen with
      due notice and opportunity for community feedback.

   o  IESG actions in areas where the IESG has the authority to take
      action.  This does not need special rules.

   o  AD actions taken with the advice and consent of the IESG; the IESG
      is expected to be kept informed, and gives comment, but the
      authority to act is delegated to the AD.

   o  AD action; cases where an AD can take independent action without
      needing to consult the IESG first.

   The IESG may reach decisions by face to face meeting,
   teleconferencing, Internet communication, or any combination of the

3.2.  Openness and Confidentiality

   The IESG publishes a record of decisions from its meetings on the
   Internet, and conducts an open meeting at every IETF meeting.  It
   publishes more detailed documentation of decisions as RFCs, Internet
   Drafts or messages to the IETF-announce mailing list, with copies
   kept on the IETF website when appropriate.

   The IESG also has private group discussions, using any means of its
   choice, including email.  Records of those discussions are not
   required to be made public.  This is believed to be vital in
   permitting a frank exchange of viewpoints and worries, allowing
   people to speak out freely on topics known to be controversial, and
   permitting people to change their minds based on presented arguments.
   Decisions and their justification are a matter of public record.

   However, discussion of personnel matters and possibly legal and
   financial matters may sometimes be required to be kept confidential,
   and the chair may, with the consent of the full members, exclude
   liaison and ex officio members whose presence is seen as
   inappropriate for the particular discussion.

   The chair may also exclude members and liaisons who have a serious
   conflict of interest on an issue (although this has never been
   enacted).  Members can also choose to recuse themselves from
   discussion of an issue, or refrain from participating in a particular
   ballot, if they feel it is appropriate.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

4.  The IESG Role in Working Group Management

   The IESG is in charge of managing the working group process.  While
   the process of managing a working group is assigned to the working
   group chairs, the IESG is in charge of those processes that are
   beyond the scope of the working group chair's role.  Most of these
   functions are delegated by the IESG to a single Area Director - the
   "responsible Area Director" for the group.

4.1.  Working Group Creation

   The formation of working groups is described in  BCP 25 [2], section
   2; this document does not repeat the text there, but gives additional
   details of IESG actions.

   A Working Group (WG) may be requested by members of the IETF
   community, who address the request to an AD that the requesters feel
   is the appropriate AD for the task, or the formation can be initiated
   by an AD.  The IESG may assign the prospective working group to
   another AD and/or Area if the IESG thinks that is best.

   The AD is responsible for ensuring that a working group being
   chartered fulfills the criteria for WG formation given in BCP 25.
   The charter is the result of a negotiation between the AD and the
   community of interest, with review and advice from the rest of the
   IESG and the IAB.

   The AD, with the advice of the IESG, is also responsible for
   selecting chairs for the working group which the AD thinks will be up
   to the task.

   All charters for proposed working groups are announced to the
   community at large when the IESG thinks the charter is ready for
   review, but prior to the IESGs final decision on chartering the WG.
   The final decision to charter a WG is an IESG decision.

   The Birds of a Feather (BOF) procedure described in BCP 25 [2],
   section 2.4 also requires approval from the relevant AD (the one who
   got the request or the AD that the IESG thinks is the right AD to
   manage the task).  A BOF is not required to start a working group,
   and a BOF may be held without the purpose of creating a working
   group.  BOFs are also often discussed with the IESG and IAB.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

4.2.  Working Group Management

   The role of the Area Director in WG management is described in BCP 25
   [2], section 6.7.

   The role of managing a WG is divided between the WG Chair(s) and the

   A WG chair has to manage the working group "from the inside", dealing
   with individuals, drafts, proposals, meetings and email lists, and
   has full power and responsibility to do that.

   An AD manages a WG "from the outside", dealing with charters, chairs,
   cross-WG and cross-area relationships and so on.

   The AD is responsible for making sure the working groups stay focused
   on the charter tasks, make forward progress, are coordinated with the
   rest of the area, and are coordinated with the rest of the IETF.  The
   ADs help each other with maintaining cross-area coordination.

   In a well functioning working group, main responsibility for these
   things rests with the chairs; the AD will normally be able to
   concentrate on supporting the working group chairs' work.

   When a WG finds that it is essential that work gets done which is not
   on its charter, the AD, consulting with the rest of the IESG as
   required, is responsible for figuring out whether to add it to their
   charter, add it to another group's charter, task someone outside the
   WG to work on it, or initiate creation of another WG.

   Substantive changes to the body of a WG's charter require the same
   type of process as chartering - see BCP 25 [2], section 5.

   The Area Director is also responsible for picking and, when
   necessary, replacing working group chairs.  This is done in
   consultation with the IESG, but the decision is made by the
   responsible AD.

4.3.  Working Group Termination

   Terminating a WG is a decision of the responsible AD.

   A working group may be shut down when its work is complete, or when
   the AD concludes that letting the working group continue its work no
   longer contributes to the IETF's progress.

   The decision to terminate a working group is announced, giving the
   reason for termination.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

5.  The IESG Role in Document Review

   The IESG is expected to ensure that the documents are of a sufficient
   quality for release as RFCs, that they describe their subject matter
   well, and that there are no outstanding engineering issues that
   should be addressed before publication.  The degree of review will
   vary with the intended status and perceived importance of the

   When there are problems or solutions that occur frequently, the IESG
   may publish documents describing the problems and how to avoid them,
   such as "IANA considerations" (BCP 26 [8]), or publish web pages with
   commonly used guidelines.

   Rules - stuff that the community is expected to follow - are decided
   by IETF consensus processing and commonly published as BCP RFCs.

   Guidance to the community that is of a more ephemeral and less
   normative nature is decided by the IESG and published on the IESG's
   Web pages.

5.1.  Working Group Documents

   This role is described in BCP 25 [2], section 7.5 and 8, and BCP 9
   [1], section 6.  The IESG role is one of review and approval.

5.2.  Non-Working Group Documents

5.2.1.  Standards-Track Documents

   This role, which applies to Proposed, Draft, Standard and BCP
   processing, is described in BCP 9 [1], section 6.  Such documents are
   submitted to the IESG, and are then assigned to a relevant AD.  The
   IESG is responsible for determining:

   o  Whether or not the specification is appropriate for the standards

   o  Whether or not the specification needs review by one or more
      existing WGs

   o  Whether or not the quality of the specification is adequate

   The IESG will either approve or disapprove of the publication of the
   document on the standards track; no document can be published on the
   standards track without IESG approval.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

   The IESG may decide that a document submitted for standards-track
   publication should instead be published as Experimental or
   Informational, or that a document submitted for Proposed standard
   should be published as a BCP, or vice versa.

5.2.2.  Informational and Experimental Documents

   These documents are normally submitted to the RFC Editor in
   accordance with the procedures of BCP 9 [1], section 4.2.3 and BCP 25
   [2], section 8.  The IESG is asked to review all documents submitted
   in this fashion for conflicts with the IETF standards process or work
   done in the IETF community; this is a modification of the BCP 9 [1]
   procedure, and documented in BCP 25 [2], section 8.

   The IESG may recommend that the document be published as-is, that it
   be reviewed by a working group, that the document be published with
   an IESG note indicating issues such as conflict with the IETF
   standards process, or may recommend that the document not be

   If the document is referred to a WG, the WG can recommend that the
   document be adopted as a WG document, that it be published (possibly
   with comments), or that the IESG recommend to the RFC Editor that it
   not be published.  The responsible AD for the WG is responsible for
   getting a response from the WG in a timely manner.

   An AD, in consultation with the author, may choose to put an
   individual's document directly before the IESG, without waiting for
   the document to be submitted through the RFC Editor.  This document
   will then be processed in the same fashion as an Informational or
   Experimental document from a working group.

5.3.  IESG Review Procedures

   The IESG review procedures are defined by the IESG.

   The IESG is responsible for conducting the process in a timely manner
   with appropriate communication.

   For all documents, the IESG assigns a specific AD the responsibility
   of shepherding the document; that AD will normally review the
   document, and possibly ask for revisions to it to address obvious
   problems, before asking the entire IESG to consider it for

   The IESG has web pages as part of the IETF web (www.ietf.org);
   current details of procedures, as well as the means of finding the
   responsible AD for any document, are published there.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

6.  The IESG Role in Area Management

   The IETF divides its work into a number of areas, each comprised of
   working groups that relate to that area's focus (BCP 25 [2], section
   1).  The area structure is defined by the IESG, and the IESG can add
   areas, redefine areas, merge areas, change the number of ADs assigned
   to an area, or close down areas.

   Changes to the area structure affect the IETF in many ways; decisions
   to change the area structure are taken in consultation with the

   When changing the area structure, the IESG can decide which members
   are responsible for new and changed areas, including making one
   sitting AD responsible for multiple areas, but the IESG can only add
   new members through the nomcom process.

   The primary task of area management is handled by one or two Area
   Directors per area.  An AD may be advised by one or more
   directorates, which are created, selected, chaired and if necessary
   disbanded by the AD (BCP 25 [2], section 1).  Directorates may be
   specific to an area, specific to a technology, or chartered in some
   other fashion.

   The ADs for an area are jointly responsible for making sure the WGs
   in the area are well coordinated, that there is coverage for the
   technologies needed in the area, and that the challenges most
   important to the Internet in that area are indeed being worked on.

   The IESG decides which areas working groups belong to.

7.  Other IESG Roles

7.1.  Staff Supervision

   The IETF Chair has primary responsibility for supervising the work of
   the IETF Secretariat, with the advice and consent of the IESG, the
   IAB Chair and the ISOC president.

   The supervision of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and
   RFC-Editor functions is handled by the IAB.

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

7.2.  Process Management

   The IESG is responsible for making sure the IETF process is
   functional in all aspects.  This includes taking responsibility for
   initiating consideration of updates to the process when required, as
   well as addressing obvious miscarriages of process, even when they do
   not fall into the categories described above.

7.3.  External Relations

   The responsibility for handling external relations rests with the
   IAB, as described in the IAB Charter (RFC 2850 [10]).  However, when
   technical cooperation is required, it is essential that the work be
   coordinated with the relevant ADs.  This often means that ADs will
   function in a liaison role with other organizations, but the IAB may
   decide that the same function may also be done by others when it
   decides that this is more appropriate.

7.4.  Appeals Actions

   The formal appeals procedure is described in BCP 9 [1], section 6.5.

   Most decisions by a working group chair can be appealed to the AD,
   and decisions by an individual AD can be appealed to the IESG.

   Decisions of the IESG can be appealed to the IAB; for this reason,
   the IAB chair and the liaison from the IAB recuse themselves from
   discussion of appeals to the IESG.

8.  Security Considerations

   The security of the Internet depends on standards giving proper
   thought to security.  Apart from that, there seems to be no
   considerations of security relevant to this memo.

9.  Acknowledgements

   This work has been supported, aided and abetted by the whole IESG at
   the time of this writing, and has benefited from many other comments.

   Thanks to David Putzolu, Pekka Savola, John Klensin, Margaret
   Wasserman, Brian Carpenter, Fred Baker, Jonne Soininen, Robert Elz,
   Keith Moore, Pete Resnick, Dave Crocker, Vint Cerf, Steve Coya and
   all others who provided comments on various versions of this

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

10.  References

10.1.  Normative References

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

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

   [3]  Galvin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and Recall
        Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP
        10, RFC 2727, February 2000.

10.2.  Informative References

   [4]  Chapin, L., "The Internet Standards Process", RFC 1310, March

   [5]  Huitema, C. and P. Gross, "The Internet Standards Process --
        Revision 2", RFC 1602, March 1994.

   [6]  Huizer, E. and D. Crocker, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
        Procedures", RFC 1603, March 1994.

   [7]  Postel, J., "Addendum to RFC 1602 -- Variance Procedure", BCP 2,
        RFC 1871, November 1995.

   [8]  Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA
        Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 2434, October 1998.

   [9]  http://www.ietf.org

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

11.  Author's Address

   Harald Tveit Alvestrand
   Cisco Systems
   5245 Arboretum Dr
   Los Altos, CA

   EMail: harald@alvestrand.no

RFC 3710                    An IESG Charter                February 2004

12.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  This document is subject
   to the rights, licenses and restrictions contained in BCP 78 and
   except as set forth therein, the authors retain all their rights.

   This document and the information contained herein are provided on an

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   rights in RFC documents can be found in BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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