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Evolving the administrative arrangements supporting the IETF

  • Alissa Cooper
  • IETF Chair
  • 28 Aug 2018

After more than 10 years, the IETF is making a major update to the administrative framework for supporting its work.

For the past three decades the IETF community has focused on making the Internet work better by developing and documenting technical standards and practices that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet. Over that time, the arrangements supporting the IETF’s work have evolved to match the changing expectations of the community, the requirements of the environment in which it operates, and the work itself—even as RFC 3935 has remained unchanged. The last major change in the IETF’s administrative arrangements led to the formation of the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA) in 2005. Over the last 20 months, the IETF community has been discussing how to evolve our administrative structure. Those discussions have resulted in the creation of the IETF Administration LLC (“IETF LLC”), a new legal entity to house the IETF’s administration and fundraising.

This structure addresses the considerable changes over the past decade in the size and scope of the IETF’s administrative needs, clarifies responsibility and authority over the IETF’s administration, and is flexible enough to adapt to changes as the needs of the IETF continue to evolve. IETF LLC has been established as a “disregarded entity” of the Internet Society (ISOC), which means that the two organizations are treated as a single entity for tax purposes, but as independent entities for all other purposes. In creating IETF LLC, ISOC has committed to generous up-front and annual financial contributions to ensure the continued success of the IETF. You can read more about the financial arrangements.   

As with previous administrative changes, the principles guiding and supporting the IETF’s work remain unchanged. To quote the charter of the IETF Administrative Support Activity 2, which is the group working to decide and document the administrative changes, the new structure will have no effect on “anything related to the oversight or steering of the standards process as currently conducted by the IESG and IAB, the appeal chain, the confirming bodies for existing IETF and IAB appointments, the IRTF, or ISOC's memberships in other organizations.” Notably, this includes ISOC’s memberships in other standards organizations, which will remain unchanged.

The IETF LLC is currently overseen by an interim board of directors, which will be in place until the first full board is seated early next year. You can find more information about the board, and updates will continue to be posted as the transition from IASA to IETF LLC progresses.

As we undergo this transition, the IETF and ISOC remain strongly aligned. ISOC, which has been the organizational home for the IETF since 1996, continues to strongly support the work of the IETF. I would like to express my personal appreciation to ISOC for its diligence and commitment in reaching this revised arrangement.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d like to thank the many members of the IETF community who have contributed to this effort. While this work is outside the usual technical discussions we have in the IETF, it is laying a critical foundation to ensure the IETF’s future success. I’m confident that we and the Internet at large will be well-served going forward by the work we’ve done together so far.


Bibliography

  • [1] RFC 3935
    A Mission Statement for the IETF

    This memo gives a mission statement for the IETF, tries to define the terms used in the statement sufficiently to make the mission statement understandable and useful, argues why the IETF needs a mission statement, and tries to capture some of the debate that led to this point. This document spe...

    Harald T. Alvestrand

  • [2] IETF Administrative Support Activity 2

    IETF Administrative Support Activity 2