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.

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]