IETF Overview

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) provides a forum for working groups to coordinate technical developments of new protocols. Its most important function is the development and selection of standards within the Internet protocol suite.

The IETF began in January 1986 as a forum for technical coordination by contractors for the then US Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), working on the ARPANET, US Defense Data Network (DDN), and the Internet core gateway system. Since that time, the IETF has grown into a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet.

The IETF mission includes:

  1. Identifying and proposing solutions to pressing operational and technical problems in the Internet;
  2. Specifying the development or usage of protocols and the near-term architecture, to solve technical problems for the Internet;
  3. Facilitating technology transfer from the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) to the wider Internet community; and
  4. Providing a forum for the exchange of relevant information within the Internet community between vendors, users, researchers, agency contractors, and network managers.

Technical activity on any specific topic in the IETF is addressed within working groups. All working groups are organized roughly by function into nine areas. Each is led by one or more area directors who have primary responsibility for that one area of IETF activity. Together with the Chair of the IETF/IESG, these technical directors compose the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).

The current areas and directors which compose the IESG are:


Fred Baker


Harald Alvestrand
Keith Moore


Frank Kastenholz
Jeffrey Burgan

IP: Next Generation

Scott Bradner
Allison Mankin

Network Management

Deirdre Kostick

Operational Requirements

Scott Bradner
Michael O'Dell


Joel Halpern


Jeff Schiller


Allison Mankin

User Services

Joyce K. Reynolds

The IETF has a Secretariat, headquartered at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives in Reston, Virginia, with the following staff:

IETF Executive Director

Steve Coya

IETF Meeting Coordinator

Marcia Beaulieu

IETF Proceedings Editor/Webmaster

Gehrett W. Ellis

IETF Meeting Registrar

Julie Kirchhoff

IETF Internet-Drafts Administrator

Cynthia Clark

The working groups conduct business during plenary meetings of the IETF, during meetings outside of the IETF, and via electronic mail on mailing lists established for each group. The IETF holds 4.5 day meetings three times a year. These meetings are composed of working group sessions, technical presentations, network status reports, working group reporting, and an open IESG meeting. A Proceedings of each IETF plenary is published, which includes reports from each area, each working group, and each technical presentation. The Proceedings include a summary of all current standardization activities.

Meeting reports, charters (which include the working group mailing lists), and general information on current IETF activities are available on-line for anonymous FTP from several Internet hosts, including