Network Working Group L. Daigle, Ed.
Request for Comments: 4052 Internet Architecture Board
BCP: 102 April 2005
Category: Best Current Practice
IAB Processes for Management of IETF Liaison Relationships
Status of This Memo
This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2005).
This document discusses the procedures used by the IAB to establish
and maintain liaison relationships between the IETF and other
Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), consortia and industry
fora. This document also discusses the appointment and
responsibilities of IETF liaison managers and representatives, and
the expectations of the IAB for organizations with whom liaison
relationships are established.
Table of Contents
1. Liaison Relationships and Personnel .............................2
2. Aspects of Liaisons and Liaison Management ......................3
2.1. Liaison Relationships ......................................3
2.2. Liaison Manager ............................................3
2.3. Liaison Representatives ....................................4
2.4. Liaison Communications .....................................4
3. Summary of IETF Liaison Manager Responsibilities ................5
4. Approval and Transmission of Liaison Statements .................6
5. Security Considerations .........................................6
6. Acknowledgements ................................................7
7. References ......................................................8
7.1. Normative References .......................................8
7.2. Informative References .....................................8
1. Liaison Relationships and Personnel
The IETF, as an organization, has the need to engage in direct
communication or joint endeavors with various other formal
organizations. For example, the IETF is one of several Standards
Development Organizations, or SDOs, and all SDOs including the IETF
find it increasingly necessary to communicate and coordinate their
activities involving Internet-related technologies. This is useful
in order to avoid overlap in work efforts and to manage interactions
between their groups. In cases where the mutual effort to
communicate and coordinate activities is formalized, these
relationships are generically referred to as "liaison relationships".
In such cases, a person from the IETF is designated to manage a given
liaison relationship; that person is generally called the "IETF
liaison manager" to the other organization. When the liaison
relationship is expected to encompass a complex or broad range of
activities, more people may be designated to undertake some portions
of the communications, coordinated by the liaison manager. Often,
the other organization will similarly designate their own liaison
manager to the IETF.
This document is chiefly concerned with:
o the establishment and maintenance of liaison relationships, and
o the appointment and responsibilities of IETF liaison managers and
The management of other organizations' liaison managers to the IETF,
whether or not in the context of a liaison relationship, is outside
the scope of this document.
The IETF has chartered the Internet Architecture Board to manage
liaison relationships. Consistent with its charter , the IAB acts
as representative of the interests of the IETF and the Internet
Society in technical liaison relationships with other organizations
concerned with standards and other technical and organizational
issues relevant to the worldwide Internet. Liaison relationships are
kept as informal as possible and must be of demonstrable value to the
IETF's technical mandate. Individual participants of the IETF are
appointed as liaison managers or representatives to other
organizations by the IAB.
In general, a liaison relationship is most valuable when there are
areas of technical development of mutual interest. For the most
part, SDOs would rather leverage existing work done by other
organizations than recreate it themselves (and would like the same
done with respect to their own work). Establishing a liaison
relationship can provide the framework for ongoing communications to
o prevent inadvertent duplication of effort, without obstructing
either organization from pursuing its own mandate;
o provide authoritative information of one organization's
dependencies on the other's work.
2. Aspects of Liaisons and Liaison Management
2.1. Liaison Relationships
A liaison relationship is set up when it is mutually agreeable and
needed for some specific purpose, in the view of the other
organization, the IAB, and the IETF participants conducting the work.
There is no set process or form for this; the IETF participants and
the peer organization approach the IAB, and after discussion come to
an agreement to form the relationship. In some cases, the intended
scope and guidelines for the collaboration are documented
specifically (e.g., see , , and ).
In setting up the relationship, the IAB expects that there will be a
mutual exchange of views and discussion of the best approach for
undertaking new standardization work items. Any work items resulting
for the IETF will be undertaken in the usual IETF procedures, defined
in . The peer organization often has different organizational
structure and procedures than the IETF, which will require some
flexibility on the part of both organizations to accommodate. The
IAB expects that each organization will use the relationship
carefully, allowing time for the processes it requests to occur in
the other organization, and will not make unreasonable demands.
2.2. Liaison Manager
As described above, most work on mutually interesting topics will be
carried out in the usual way within the IETF and the peer
organization. Therefore, most communications will be informal in
nature (for example, Working Group (WG) or mailing list discussions).
An important function of the liaison manager is to ensure that
communication is maintained, productive, and timely. He or she may
use any applicable businesslike approach, from private to public
communications, and bring in other parties as needed. If a
communication from a peer organization is addressed to an
inappropriate party, such as being sent to the WG but not copying the
Area Director (AD) or being sent to the wrong WG, the liaison manager
will help redirect or otherwise augment the communication.
IETF liaison managers should also communicate and coordinate with
other liaison managers where concerned technical activities overlap.
Since the IAB is ultimately responsible for liaison relationships,
anyone who has a problem with a relationship (whether an IETF
participant or a person from the peer organization) should first
consult the IAB's designated liaison manager, and if that does not
result in a satisfactory outcome, the IAB itself.
2.3. Liaison Representatives
The liaison manager is, specifically, a representative of the IETF
for the purpose of managing the liaison relationship. There may be
occasion to identify other representatives for the same relationship.
For example, if the area of mutual work is extensive, it might be
appropriate to name several people as liaison representatives to
different parts of the other organization. Or, it might be
appropriate to name a liaison representative to attend a particular
These other liaison representatives are selected by the IAB and work
in conjunction (and close communication) with the liaison manager.
In some cases, this may also require communication and coordination
with other liaison managers or representatives where concerned
technical activities overlap. The specific responsibilities of the
liaison representative will be identified at the time of appointment.
2.4. Liaison Communications
Communications between organizations use a variety of formal and
informal channels. The stated preference of the IETF, which is
largely an informal organization, is to use informal channels, as
these have historically worked well to expedite matters. In some
cases, however, a more formal communication is appropriate, either as
an adjunct to the informal channel or in its place. In the case of
formal communications, the established procedures of many
organizations use a form known as a "liaison statement". Procedures
for sending, managing, and responding to liaison statements are
discussed in .
3. Summary of IETF Liaison Manager Responsibilities
While the requirements will certainly vary depending on the nature of
the peer organization and the type of joint work being undertaken,
the general expectations of a liaison manager appointed by the IAB
are as follows:
o Attend relevant meetings of the peer organization as needed and
report back to the appropriate IETF organization any material
o Carry any messages from the IETF to the peer organization, when
specifically instructed. Generally, these communications
"represent the IETF", and therefore due care and consensus must be
applied in their construction.
o Prepare occasional updates. The target of these updates (e.g.,
the IAB, an AD, a WG) will generally be identified upon
o Oversee delivery of liaison statements addressed to the IETF,
ensuring that they reach the appropriate destination within the
IETF, and ensure that relevant responses from the IETF are created
and sent in a timely fashion.
o Work with the other organization to ensure that the IETF's liaison
statements are appropriately directed and responded to in a timely
o Communicate and coordinate with other IETF liaison managers and
representatives where concerned technical activities overlap.
4. Approval and Transmission of Liaison Statements
It is important that appropriate leadership review be made of
proposed IETF liaison statements and that those writing such
statements, who claim to be speaking on behalf of IETF, are truly
representing IETF views.
All outgoing liaison statements will be copied to IETF Secretariat
using procedures defined in  or its successors.
For a liaison statement generated on behalf of an IETF WG, the WG
chair(s) must create a statement based on appropriate discussions
within the WG to ensure working group consensus for the position(s)
presented. The chair(s) must have generated or must agree with the
sending of the liaison statement, and must advise the AD(s) that the
liaison statement has been sent by copying the appropriate ADs on the
For a liaison statement generated on behalf of an IETF Area, the
AD(s) must have generated or must agree with the sending of the
liaison statement. If the liaison statement is not sent by the ADs,
then their agreement must be obtained in advance and confirmed by
copying the ADs on the message.
For a liaison statement generated on behalf of the IETF as a whole,
the IETF Chair must have generated or must agree with the sending of
the liaison statement. If the liaison statement is not sent by the
IETF Chair, then his or her agreement must be obtained in advance and
confirmed by copying the IETF Chair on the message.
For a liaison statement generated by the IAB, the IAB Chair must have
generated or must agree with the sending of the liaison statement.
If the liaison statement is not sent by the IAB Chair, then his or
her agreement must be obtained in advance and confirmed by copying
the IAB Chair on the message.
In cases where prior agreement was not obtained as outlined above,
and the designated authority (AD, IETF Chair, or IAB Chair) in fact
does not agree with the message, the designated authority will work
with the liaison manager to follow up as appropriate, including
emitting a revised liaison statement if necessary. Clearly, this is
a situation best avoided by assuring appropriate agreement in advance
of sending the liaison message.
5. Security Considerations
The security of the Internet is not threatened by these procedures.
This document was developed as part of a conversation regarding the
management of , and the authors of that document contributed
significantly to it. Also, this version of the document has been
improved over its predecessor by several suggestions from Stephen J.
Trowbridge, Peter Saint-Andre, Michael Patton, Bert Wijnen, Fred
Baker, Scott Bradner, Scott Brim, Avri Doria, Allison Mankin, Thomas
Narten, Russ Housley and Dan Romasanu.
Members of the IAB at the time of approval of this document were:
Harald Alvestrand (IETF chair)
Leslie Daigle (IAB chair)
Jun-ichiro Itojun Hagino
Geoff Huston (IAB Executive Director)
7.1. Normative References
 Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP
09, RFC 2026, October 1996.
 Internet Architecture Board and B. Carpenter, "Charter of the
Internet Architecture Board (IAB)", BCP 39, RFC 2850, May 2000.
7.2. Informative References
 Rosenbrock, K., Sanmugam, R., Bradner, S., and J. Klensin,
"3GPP-IETF Standardization Collaboration", RFC 3113, June 2001.
 Bradner, S., Calhoun, P., Cuschieri, H., Dennett, S., Flynn, G.,
Lipford, M., and M. McPheters, "3GPP2-IETF Standardization
Collaboration", RFC 3131, June 2001.
 Fishman, G. and S. Bradner, "Internet Engineering Task Force and
International Telecommunication Union - Telecommunications
Standardization Sector Collaboration Guidelines", RFC 3356,
 Trowbridge, S., Bradner, S., and F. Baker, "Procedure for
Handling Liaison Statements Between Standards Bodies",
Internet Architecture Board
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