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Network Working Group S. Crocker Request for Comments: 1640 TIS Category: Informational June 1994

         The Process for Organization of Internet Standards
                       Working Group (POISED)

Status of this Memo

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


 This report, originally prepared in January 1993 provides a summary
 of the POISED WG, starting from the events leading to the formation
 of the WG to the end of 1992.  Necessarily, this synopsis represents
 my own perception, particularly for the "prehistory" period.  Quite a
 few people hold strong views about both the overall sequence and
 specific events.  My intent here is to convey as neutral a point of
 view as possible.

Background and Formation of POISED Working Group

 The POISED WG resulted from two sequences of activity, both
 intimately related to the growth of the Internet.  During 1991, there
 was great concern that the IP address space was being depleted and
 that the routing tables were growing too large.  Some change in the
 IP addressing and routing mechanisms seemed inevitable, and it became
 urgent to explore and choose what those changes should be.  The ROAD
 Working Group was formed to study the issues and recommend changes.
 The ROAD group returned with a specific recommendation for the short
 term, but did not reach a conclusion on a long term plan.
 The IESG then formulated a plan of action for further exploration of
 the issues and forwarded these recommendations to the IAB.  In June
 1992, after the INET '92 meeting in Kobe, Japan, the IAB met and
 considered the IESG's recommendations.  After considering the IESG's
 recommendations, the IAB felt that additional ideas were also
 important, particularly some of the addressing ideas in the CLNP
 protocol.  The IAB communicated its concerns, and there was immediate
 controversy along two dimensions.  One dimension was technical: What
 is the best course for evolving the IP protocol?  How important or
 useful are the ideas in the OSI protocol stack?  The other dimension
 was political: Who makes decisions within the Internet community?
 Who chooses who makes these decisions?

Crocker [Page 1] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 As often happens during periods of conflict, communication suffered
 among the several parties.  The June communication from the IAB was
 understood by many an IAB decision or, equivalently, a sense of the
 decisions the IAB would make in the future.  In contrast, many if not
 all on the IAB felt that they were trying to open up the discussion
 and their memos were intended as advice and not decisions.  From my
 perspective, this form of miscommunication was partly due to the
 extended size of the Internet technical community.  When the
 community was much smaller, the IAB was in close contact with the day
 to day workings of the technical groups.  With the creation of the
 IESG and area directorates, there are now two or three layers between
 a working group and the IAB.
 These matters came to a head during the IETF meeting in July in
 Cambridge, MA.  It was made clear that the consideration of changes
 to the IP protocol remained open.  Work on that topic has proceeded
 and is reported in the appropriate forums.  However, it became clear
 that it was necessary to examine the decision process and the
 procedures for populating the IESG and IAB.  With respect to the
 procedures for selecting IAB and IESG members, the procedures that
 were in place derived from the creation of the Internet Society
 (ISOC) and the ISOC's sponsorship of the IAB.  These procedures had
 been developed during the early part of 1992 and had been adopted by
 the ISOC during its meeting in Kobe in June.  Hence, as fast as the
 ISOC was building the framework for supporting the Internet
 community, the community was questioning its structure and processes.
 Following the IETF meeting, Vint Cerf, Internet Society president,
 called for the formation of working group to examine the processes
 and particularly the selection process (Attachment 1).  During
 August, the working group was formed, I was asked to chair it, and a
 charter for the WG was formulated (Attachment 2).  (The acronym is
 due to Erik Huizer and originally stood for The Process for
 Organization of Internet Standards and Development.  It was shortened
 to fit into the space available on paper and in the IETF
 Secretariat's database.)

Deliberations: August through mid-November

 The formation of the POISED WG provided a forum for discussion of
 process issues.  An estimated 20 MB of messages filled up disks all
 over the world.  Much of this discussion was fragmented or focused on
 narrow issues.  The salient point that emerged was the need for a
 well defined process for selecting leaders with explicit community
 representation in the selection process.  There was also substantial
 discussion of the role of the IAB -- to what extent should it make
 decisions and to what extent should it provide technical guidance? --
 and the relationship between the IAB and IESG.

Crocker [Page 2] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 After several weeks of discussion, Carl Malamud and I  attempted to
 capture the main elements of the discussion by presenting a specific
 proposal for the reorganization of the entire structure.  The main
 elements of the proposal were:
    o Retention of the WG and area structure now in place within the
    o Replacement of the IAB and IESG by two boards, one devoted to
      technical management and one devoted to oversight of the
    o Well defined terms for members of both boards.
    o Selection by committees with input from the community.
 This proposal was technically radical in the sense that it proposed
 new structures to replace existing structures instead of proposing
 changes within the existing system.  The proposal focused all further
 discussion and set the stage for the fall IETF in mid-November in
 Washington D.C.

November IETF meeting

 By virtue of the intensity of interest throughout the community, the
 POISED WG was one of the focal points of the IETF meeting.  The
 schedule included a plenary session Tuesday morning to present the
 current state of the POISED WG discussions, a formal POISED WG
 session Tuesday afternoon and an open IESG meeting Thursday evening
 devoted to the POISED issues.  The formal schedule was only the tip
 of the iceberg; numerous meetings took place over breakfast, lunch
 and dinner, in the halls and off in the corners.  The more active
 participants probably had a dozen or more separate meetings on this
 over the three most active days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
 Amidst all this frenetic activity, remarkable progress occurred at
 two key points.  At the Tuesday afternoon POISED WG meeting, Lyman
 Chapin, IAB chair, Phill Gross, IETF chair and IAB member, and other
 IAB members proposed changes within the existing IAB/IESG structure
 which converged with the process management elements of the Malamud-
 Crocker proposal.  The key point was that all processing of standards
 actions, including the final decision to advance a specification
 along the standards track, would be made by the IESG.  This change in
 the process shortens the decision cycle and brings it a step closer
 to the working group.   Convergence on this key point obviated a
 radical proposal and signaled the building of a consensus on how the
 standards process should evolve.  Over the next two days attention
 then turned to the selection process.

Crocker [Page 3] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 As indicated above, there was a strong feeling in the community that
 the IAB and IESG members should be selected with the consensus of the
 community.  A natural mechanism for doing this is through formal
 voting.  However, a formal voting process requires formal delineation
 of who's enfranchised.  One of the strengths of the IETF is there
 isn't any formal membership requirement, nor is there a tradition of
 decision through  votes.  Decisions are generally reached by
 consensus with mediation by leaders when necessary.
 Various formulas were considered, and the one that emerged was that
 IAB and IESG members would be selected by a nomination and recruiting
 committee.  The committee is to consist of seven members from the
 community, with non-voting representatives from the IAB and IESG and
 a non-voting chair provided by the ISOC.  The seven members are to be
 volunteers, with selection by lot if there are more than seven
 volunteers.  The only requirement for volunteers is they must have
 attended two IETF meetings.  This requirement is designed to ensure
 the nomination committee has some familiarity with the Internet
 community and the standards process.
 IAB and IESG members are to serve two years.  Half of each body is to
 have terms starting in odd years, and half is to have terms starting
 in even years.  Selections to the IESG have to be ratified by the
 IAB, and selections to the IAB had to be ratified by the ISOC.  In
 the event that the nomination committee is unable to reach a
 consensus on a single candidate for each position, it may forward
 multiple nominations to the ratifying body, and the ratifying body
 will select the candidate.
 In addition to this selection process, a recall mechanism was
 outlined using a similar scheme.  The ISOC is to supply an ombudsman
 who will field complaints after all oversight processes have been
 exhausted.  If the ombudsman is unable to resolve a complaint after a
 cooling off period, a recall committee, selected at random among
 volunteering community members, will consider the matter.  A two
 thirds vote by the committee is necessary to remove someone.
 This proposal was formulated and circulated during Wednesday and
 Thursday and presented at the IESG open plenary.  In contrast to the
 extraordinarily contentious open IESG meeting in Cambridge, this
 meeting was characterized by a strenuous effort by numerous people,
 representing diverse points of view, to reach consensus on this
 proposal, and the meeting ended with a distinct decision to proceed
 on this basis.  Given the strong consensus that emerged at that
 meeting, the group decided to implement the selection process by the
 next IETF meeting, with the new IESG and IAB members to begin their
 terms at the termination of the IETF meeting in March.

Crocker [Page 4] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 On Friday, the IAB and IESG met jointly to determine what to do next.
 Both groups agreed to implement the change in processing standards
 actions quickly and cooperatively and to identify the positions which
 are open for selection.  Within a couple of weeks, the IAB finished
 processing the standards actions in its queue, and IESG began to
 handle standards actions on its own.

December ISOC meeting

 The Internet Society Trustees met December 10 and 11 at CNRI in
 Reston, VA.  The process and organization of the IAB and IETF was one
 of their major concerns.  A session of the Trustees at 3:00 p.m. EST,
 December 10, was broadcast via the Internet.  It was not clear how
 many people listened, but Geoff Huston, Internet Trustee, was spliced
 in separately from Australia.
 At this session, I presented the POISED WG results deliberations and
 asked on behalf of the IETF that the Trustees approve the selection
 process described above.  For the long run, a new charter is needed.
 Given the very compressed schedule for these activities, there has
 not been time to draft and refine a new charter, so the Trustees were
 asked to approve the general direction of the reorganization of the
 IAB and IETF and give temporary approval to the selection process in
 order to permit the first round of selections to proceed.
 The Trustees expressed strong approval for the work of the POISED WG
 and general approval for the direction of the effort.  One area of
 concern for the Trustees is the legal liability of the Internet
 Society regarding decisions the IESG might make in the future.  The
 Trustees made it quite clear that they are not inclined to
 micromanage the IETF process, but they do feel compelled to
 understand the legal issues and help construct a charter which is
 consistent with their responsbilities as Trustees.
 The session adjourned with agreement to proceed on the current course
 and for the IETF, IAB and ISOC Trustees to work together to draft the
 appropriate charter.

Future activities

 Both the IESG and IAB have selected the positions which must be
 filled through the new selection process.  As I write this, Vint Cerf
 has been working to find a chair for the nominations committee, and
 the process should move forward during January and February.
 Communications on the details of the nomination process will be
 published on the IETF mailing list and possibly other forums.  As
 described above, the selection process should be complete well before
 the next IETF meeting, and preferably by the end of February.

Crocker [Page 5] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 The other open agenda item is the draft of a new charter for the IAB
 and IETF and adoption of the charter by the ISOC.  This is the next
 order of business for the POISED WG.

Crocker [Page 6] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

ATTACHMENT 1: Message from Vint Cerf to the IETF, et al.

To: Cc:, iesg@NRI.Reston.VA.US,,


Subject: Request for Recommendations Date: Wed, 12 Aug 92 21:46:48 -0400 From: vcerf@NRI.Reston.VA.US Message-Id: 9208122146.aa10744@IETF.NRI.Reston.VA.US

To: IETF Chairman CC: IAB, IETF, IRTF, ISOC Trustees, and ISOC Members From: President, Internet Society Subject: Request for Recommendations on IAB/IETF/IRTF/ISOC Procedures


 In June, 1992, The Internet Society Board of Trustees received a
 proposed charter for an Internet Architecture Board to be created
 within the Internet Society. The new Internet Architecture Board was
 envisioned to be made up of the then current members of the Internet
 Activities Board. The functions of the IETF and the IRTF would be
 brought under the umbrella of the Internet Society as elements of the
 newly chartered Internet Architecture Board. The Trustees voted to
 accept the proposed charter, which is contained in RFC 1358.
 In the period between June and July, a great deal of discussion
 occurred both by email and at the IETF meeting in Boston about the
 procedures by which the IAB, IETF, and IRTF should work together
 under the general umbrella of the Internet Society. Among the many
 points raised, three seemed particularly important to consider:
    1. Procedures for making appointments to the Internet Architecture
    2. Procedures for resolving disagreements among the IETF, IESG,
       and IAB in matters pertaining to the Internet Standards.
    3. Methods for ensuring that for any particular Internet Standard,
       procedures have been followed satisfactorily by all parties
       so that everyone with an interest has had a fair opportunity
       to be heard.

Crocker [Page 7] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

 Effective discussion of these issues requires the availability of an
 open venue, an opportunity to comment by email, and the possibility
 of conducting face-to-face meetings. Recognizing this, the IAB has
 recommended that the most effective means available to the Internet
 Community for gathering recommendations for refining our existing
 procedures is to request that an IETF Working Group be formed.
 I am pleased to make this request of the IETF to create such a WG.
 It would be extremely helpful to have recommendations on the three
 topics listed above by the first of December, 1992, in time to be
 presented at the Internet Society Board of Trustees meeting scheduled
 for December 10th.
 With respect to point 1 above, the current procedures for making IAB
 appointments are contained in the IAB charter (RFC 1358). RFC 1310
 contains a description of the current process by which Internet
 Standards are achieved. Points (2) and (3) could be discussed in the
 context of the present procedures described in RFC 1310, which
 recognizes a number of open issues in an appendix.
 The Internet Society Trustees hope that members of the IAB, IRTF,
 IESG, and IETF, as well as general members of the Internet Society,
 will take the time to share their thoughts in the proposed working
 group forum. It is vital to the future of the Internet that these key
 groups work together well. Certainly, the Internet Society Trustees
 are committed to doing everything possible to facilitate effective
 procedures and to preserve and enhance the special spirit of the
 Internet Community which has created and maintains the health and
 growth of the global Internet.
 Vint Cerf
 Internet Society

Crocker [Page 8] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

Process for Organization of Internet Standards (poised)



   Steve Crocker  <>

Mailing lists:

   To Subscribe:

Description of Working Group:

     The goal of this working group is to examine the Internet
     standards process and the responsibilities of the IAB, with
     attention to the relationship between the IAB and IETF/IESG.
     The need for this working group was suggested during discussions
     at the July 1992 IETF.  This led to a request from the Internet
     Society president to form such a working group.
      The WG will consider the following matters:
       1. Procedures for making appointments to the Internet
          Architecture Board.
       2. Procedures for resolving disagreements among IETF, IESG and
          IAB in matters pertaining to the Internet Standards.
       3. Methods for assuring that for any particular Internet
          Standard, procedures have been followed satisfactorily by
          all parties so that everyone with an interest has had a
          fair opportunity to be heard.
       The WG will begin with a review of the procedures for making
       IAB appointments as documented in RFC 1358 and a review of
       the standards-making process documented in RFC 1310.
       The WG has a goal of issuing a final report in time for IESG
       consideration and publication as an RFC before the
       ISOC Board of Trustee's meeting in December 1992.  Given the
       compressed timescale, the WG will conduct most of its
       deliberations by electronic mail on the POISED WG mailing
       list.   There will also be a preliminary report and discussions
       at the November 1992 IETF meeting in Washington, DC.

Crocker [Page 9] RFC 1640 POISED WG Report June 1994

       This will be a normal IETF WG, i.e. the mailing list and all
       discussions will be completely open.

Goals and Milestones:

 Sep 92 Gather initial set of issues and write a preliminary report.
 Oct 92 Post as an Internet Draft the initial recommendations to the
        ISOC Board.
 Nov 92 Open discussion and presentation of the work of the POISED
        Working Group at Washington D.C. IETF meeting.
 Dec 92 Submit the recommendations document to the IESG for posting
        as an Informational RFC.  This document will be subsequently
        transmitted to the ISOC Board.

Security Considerations

 Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Author's Address

 Steve Crocker
 Trusted Inforamtion Systems, Inc.
 3060 Washington Road
 Glenwood, MD 21738
 Phone: (301) 854-6889
 EMail: crocker@TIS.COM

Crocker [Page 10]

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