IETF begins self-assessment effort

The Internet Engineering Task Force is underway with an effort aimed at clearing out internal problems that might be slowing standards work or keeping the organization from dealing with pertinent issues.

The standards-setting body met in San Francisco this week, and on Wednesday members were presented with a laundry list of issues collected from members who are concerned with how the IETF is operating. The concerns were part of a draft statement put together by the IETF's Problem working group.

The working group was formed last fall in response to member concerns that IETF procedures should be improved. The Problem working group is charged with determining exactly what problems exist and how best to address them; it is not responsible for coming up with solutions to those problems.

On Wednesday, Problem chairs Avri Doria and Melinda Shore presented the draft statement to members.

While difficult for some to hear the problems listed, most members seemed receptive to the motives behind the working group and were glad that issues are being discussed "out in the open," says Paul Hoffman, an IETF member.

"People came away from it hopeful that this will actually bring out important stuff that we can work on," Hoffman says.

He says there is also an effort underway to list all the things that are right with the IETF to ensure that successful policies aren't inadvertently dumped in an effort to make changes.

The Problem working group met Friday to begin work on modifying the draft statement. The ultimate goal is to submit a document to the IETF that accurately describes the problems and the best way to find solutions.

Other action in San Francisco last week included the decision not to recharter the Intellectual Property Rights working group. That working group had been focusing on clarifying and documenting current IETF IPR process. It was considering whether to recharter in order to work on changing the way the IETF deals with IPR.

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