|Russ Housley, Chair|
IETF is the acronym for the Internet Engineering Task Force, which is an open, international community made-up of operators, designers and researchers; their main concern is the development of the Internet's architecture as well as the development of Internet standards. It is a part of ISOC.
In order to develop Internet standards, the IETF cooperates with other communities and institutions like ISO/IEC and W3C for standards related to Internet protocol and TCP/IP. There are no membership requirements since IETF is an open organization. All participants work voluntarily even if some are sponsored.
IETF's mission is to further enhance the Internet by developing high quality, relevant technical documents that stimulate and influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet.
The IETF has become part of The Internet Society, which is a non-profit organization created in 1992 to ensure leadership in Internet-related standards, education, and policy. The main objective of ISOC is to ensure an open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people.
The first IETF meeting took place on January 16th, 1986; 21 US researchers participated. Since 1991 IETF has held 3 meetings per year; and eventually non-governmental entities were invited to participate. During the 1990's the IETF detached itself from the US government to form an independent and international forum; it eventually defined itself as a division of ISOC. 
IETF Working Groups
The work of IETF is divided between working groups, which are organized around specific topics. Participation in the working group is provided by volunteers; so when there is a small number of volunteers the results can be slowed down due to lack of progress. Similarly, when the number of volunteers is too large there can be problems since a consensus is harder to achieve. There are also cases when volunteers lack experience and basic knowledge in the specific area needed.
Each working group is managed by an Area Director (AD) who are members of Internet Engineering Steering Group. The AD is responsible for appointing a chairperson to lead each working group, and in some cases, co-chairs.