The Role of the IESG in the Standards Process

The IESG reviews and approves working group documents and candidates for the IETF standards track, and reviews other candidates for publication in the RFC series [1]. The IESG is expected to ensure that the documents are of a sufficient quality for release as RFCs, that they describe their subject matter well, and that there are no outstanding engineering issues that should be addressed before publication. The degree of review will vary with the intended status and perceived importance of the documents [2].

Standards Track Documents vs. Non-Standards Track Documents

Not all RFCs are standards. Every RFC has a status, relative to its relationship with the Internet standardization process. Standards Track documents include Proposed Standard, Draft Standard, and Internet Standard RFCs. Non-Standards Track documents include Informational, Experimental, and Historic RFCs [3]. A breakdown of what each status means can be found in RFC 2026, "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3"[4].

The IESG reviews all documents submitted for publication as RFCs, whether they are on the standards track or not; however, documents submitted for publication as standards track RFCs are subject to a slightly different review process by the IESG, which is outlined below.

Working Group Documents on the Standards Track

Once a working group determines that a document is ready for publication, they submit the document to the IESG and a "Last Call" for comments is issued to the IETF-Announce mailing list.  The Last Call is intended as a final check with the IETF community to make sure that no important concerns have been missed or misunderstood.

The IESG review takes into account comments received during the Last Call.  Once Last Call has been completed, the IESG will deliberate whether to accept the document on the standards track.  If the document is accepted as is, the document approval will be announced to the IETF mailing list and the RFC Editor.

In some cases, the IESG may accept a document as is, but with a different intended status (e.g. Informational or Experimental rather than Proposed Standard).  In other cases, the IESG may recommend changes to the content of the document.  Once the changes are made, the revised document may be resubmitted to the IESG for review.  In rare cases, the IESG may reject a document.  When a document is rejected, the IESG will provide the working group with a specific and thorough argument for the rejection [5].

Non-Working Group Documents on the Standards Track

Non-Working Group documents on the standards track are submitted to the IESG for review, and assigned to a relevant Area Director for shepherding.  The IESG reviews the document to determine whether the specification is appropriate for the standards track, whether the specification needs review by one or more IETF working group, and whether the quality of the specification is adequate.

The IESG will deliberate to either approve or reject the publication of the document on the standards track, as with a working group document [6].

References

[1] RFC 3710, "An IESG charter," section 1.1
[2] RFC 3710, "An IESG charter," section 5
[3] RFC 1796, "Not All RFCs are Standards"
[4] RFC 2026, "The Internet Standards Process--Revision 3," section 4
[5] RFC 2418, "IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures," section 8
[6] RFC 3710, "An IESG charter," section 5.2.1