For legal purposes, the current IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA) is organized as an activity of the Internet Society (ISOC). In November 2016, Jari Arkko launched a project as IETF Chair to re-assess the IETF's administrative arrangements. Since then, the IETF community has discussed the challenges we face, the properties we expect from future arrangements, and options for the legal and organizational structure of future arrangements. This process identified that the IETF's administrative tasks have grown; the current organizational structure is not as clear, efficient, or as fully resourced as it should be; aspects of the division of responsibilities between the IETF and ISOC continue to evolve; expectations about transparency have changed; and the IETF faces continued challenges related to funding activities against a backdrop of increasing costs and lack of predictability in our funding streams.
After considering a number of different legal structure options, the community identified the creation of a new limited liability corporation (LLC) that is a disregarded entity of ISOC (i.e., it is treated as a branch or division of ISOC for tax purposes) as the preferred option to house the administration of the IETF. Last week we announced the formation of the IETF Administrative Support Activity 2, which is chartered to document the normative changes to IETF administrative structures and processes necessary to effectuate this change.
I wanted to highlight a few additional important points that have come up in the discussions leading up to this point.
First, aside from instances where they presently relate to IASA, it is outside the scope of this working group to consider any changes to anything related to the oversight or steering of the standards process as currently conducted by the Internet Engineering Steering Group and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the appeal chain, the confirming bodies for existing IETF and IAB appointments, the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), or ISOC's memberships in other organizations.
Second, this work has the support of the Internet Society. The ISOC Board of Trustees has stated their commitment to working with the IETF along the way, and in working with the IETF to implement the outcome of the IASA2 working group process, as needed. Both the IETF community and ISOC expect to reap the benefits of clarifying and solidifying the IETF's administrative structure.
Third, many details remain to be worked out, including decisions about transitioning existing contracts and support functions, about the financial relationship between ISOC and the new LLC (including as regards the IETF Endowment), and about the relationship between the IETF community and those working on behalf of the LLC. I am confident that we will be able to identify arrangements in all of these areas that will strengthen the IETF's ability to achieve its mission of making the Internet work better.
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