Standards Activities Board Handbook

This handbook is intended to provide a general orientation for new standards development leaders by helping them to understand policies and to provide information for carrying out their roles and responsibilities.
Share this on:

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Services and Assistance

III. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

IV. The Computer Society

V. CS SAB Awards Process (under revision)

VI. Finances

VII. Your Standards Work Begins

VIII. More Information


I. Introduction

This handbook is intended to provide a general orientation for new standards development leaders by helping them to understand policies and to provide information for carrying out their roles and responsibilities.

The IEEE Computer Society is the largest association for computer professionals in the world. With almost 85,000 members, the society offers a comprehensive program of publications, meetings, and technical and educational activities that foster an active exchange of information, ideas, and innovation. The society services its members from its headquarters in Washington, DC and offices in Los Alamitos, California and Tokyo. Tracing its origins to 1946, the Computer Society is the largest of the technical societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE).

II. Services and Assistance

A. New Standards Leader Orientation

Welcome to the IEEE Computer Society’s Standards Activities. This Orientation Handbook provides a summary of responsibilities and information for new persons in leadership positions.

This handbook is available to all officers of standards activities in the Computer Society to provide the necessary reference documents to assist leadership in doing their job properly. Each standards leader, Sponsor and Working Group (WG) chair, is responsible for reviewing the materials and complying with the guidelines, policies and procedures contained therein.

B. Where to Get Help

The Computer Society Headquarters office will direct you to the proper contacts to minimize your efforts. The Computer Society office is located at 2001 L Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036-1049, Ph: +1-202-371-0101, Fax: +1-202-728-9614.

The IEEE Standards office can provide assistance and information related to the standards development process. IEEE Standards Activities, 445 Hoes Lane, P.O. Box 1331, Piscataway, NJ 08855-1331, Ph: +1-732-562-3800, Fax: +1-732-562-1571.

C. Computer Society Services Available to Standards Volunteers

  • Awards — The Computer Society offers several awards for achievement and service, and certificates of appreciation. Nomination forms are available from the Computer Society for major awards, which are reviewed and approved by an Awards Committee, and signed by the Society president. Standards groups can also give “Board level” awards, presented and signed by the leader of their working group or Committee.
  • Conference Services — Assistance with technical meetings, workshops and symposiums; handbook for conference organizers.
  • Publications and Computer Magazine — Books, proceedings, tutorials, videotapes, and standards are for sale and listed in the Computer Society publications catalog. Computer magazine is available for meeting announcements and other notices, and for standards articles of interest.
  • Cost Center Reports — Quarterly income and expense reports for committees and workgroups that maintain their account at the CS..
  • Database/List Maintenance — A database of committee and workgroup members; mailing labels; membership rosters; lists for coordinating balloting by the IEEE Standards office.
  • Document Distribution — Duplication of meeting minutes, working documents, and diskettes; distribution to mailing lists.
  • Draft Standards — Library of draft documents for distribution to the standards community (for purchase); historical record of standards drafts.
  • Email Lists — ListProc list serving software for creating email lists, and assigning an owner to configure the list and subscribers via email messages to Email group lists already exist to connect all Standards Board members, and all working group chairs.
  • Publicity/Press Releases — To improve the visibility of IEEE Computer Society standards activities, the CS staff can distribute working group press releases for publication in various industry and general interest publications.

III. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

A. IEEE: A Standards Development Organization

Existing Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) can provide a number of services to benefit a new group. Alignment with an SDO can provide a venue for the new group giving access to meeting facilities, meeting services, group rates, mailing lists, etc. This allows organizers of the new group to concentrate on the development process itself. The Computer Society’s Volunteer Services Department plans meetings and conferences, and can assist with these services . An existing SDO can also provide assistance with ongoing activities such as meeting planning, document and information distribution, and format assistance for PARs, publishing, and advancement to international status. Another of the desired features of working through an SDO (such as the IEEE) is the broadness of interest in the standard in both development and potential use. Existing SDOs can cast a wide net to solicit interest in a new standard. Both developers and users will add ideas that lead to a greater acceptance and use.

B. IEEE Standards Board

The IEEE Standards Board has overall responsibility for all standards development and approval for which the IEEE is ultimately responsible, and sole responsibility for appointment to and participation in, and cooperations with, other organizations on all standards matters. The Board is responsible on an Institute-wide basis for matters regarding units and standards in the fields of electrical engineering, electronics, radio, and the allied branches of engineering or related arts and sciences. The Board ensures that IEEE standards represent an agreement of interests concerned with and affected by these standards. The Board also ensures that the proper procedures have been followed in developing the standards. The Board delegates these responsibilities to RevCom and NesCom with final approval from the IEEE Standards Board.

  • RevCom: Standards Review Committee — This committee is responsible for reviewing proposals for the approval of new and revised standards and for the reaffirmation or withdrawal of existing standards to ensure that the proposals represent a consensus of the parties having a significant interest in the subjects covered. The committee routinely examines submittals to ensure that all applicable requirements of the IEEE Standards Operations Manual have been met.
  • NesCom: New Standards Committee — This committee is responsible for ensuring that proposed standards projects are within the scope and purpose of the IEEE, that standards projects are assigned to the proper Society or other organizational body, and that interested parties are appropriately represented in the development of IEEE standards. The committee examines Project Authorization Requests (PARs) and makes recommendations to the IEEE Standards Board regarding their approval.

IV. The Computer Society

A. Mission and Purpose

The IEEE Computer Society (CS) is a member society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and operates under the umbrella of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as one of several accredited standards developing organizations. As articulated in the IEEE Computer Society’s Constitution:

  • The purpose of the society shall be scientific, literary, and educational in character.
  • The society shall strive to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing science and technology and shall maintain a high professional standing among its members.

Our purpose is achieved through a broad range of activities including publications, conferences, tutorials, technical activities, education and standards. The Computer Society Policies & Procedures Manual cites the objectives of the society’s standards activities:

  • To provide an organizational framework and conducive environment within which to develop broadly accepted, sound, timely, and technically excellent standards that will advance the theory and practice of computing and information processing science and technology.


To facilitate the initiation, development, promulgation, international adoption and maintenance of computer and computer related standards.


To provide a forum professionals to develop needed, technically excellent standards to serve world wide providers, users and implementors of information technology.

Strategic Objectives

  • To establish an comprehensive planning mechanism which help produce standards which meet the needs of users, complement existing and in-work standards, and minimize the demand for resources of the standards volunteer.
  • To develop the capabilities of the our volunteers and provide tools to help them bring forward their work for timely acceptance.
  • To reduce the procedural demands on the standards volunteer while meeting the intent of the consensus process.
  • To encourage the recognition, understanding and use of Computer Society standards in national and international arenas.

The organization of standards activities includes the Computer Society, the Standards Activities Board, Standards Coordinating Committee, Sponsors, and working group Chairs.

B. The Computer Society Standards Activities Board (SAB)

The Standards Activities Board (SAB) is the body of the Computer Society responsible for standards activities, and is made up of standards sponsors, also called Committee Chairs. The SAB is chaired by the Vice President for Standards. SAB recommends to the Computer Society Board of Governors all policies and practices with respect to standards; monitors standards activities to assure conformance to approved policies and procedures; and establishes or dissolves CS chartered standards sponsors, setting the scope of each sponsor’s charter. SAB provides a forum for sharing and assessing information related to the operation of sponsors and for voting on issues, policies and procedures. SAB provides leadership and support for all IEEE Computer Society related standards activities, and therefore plays a vital role in the Society and the IEEE. The standards program continues to be a vibrant and growing activity, with many thousands of participants, and the society is recognized as a major player within the global standards community.

C. Standards Coordinating Committee

The Standards Coordinating Committee (SCC) is made up of SAB members plus all working group chairs. The SCC may act as Sponsor when the scope of a standards activity is too broad for one Sponsor.

D. Standards Sponsors

The IEEE standards development process includes two volunteer groups. The first is a sponsor, who supervises all phases of the development and maintenance of a standard through coordinating the formation of working groups for the preparation of new standards, or revision of existing standards. The second actually works to develop standards, such as an SCC, working group or study group, which is responsible to the sponsor. All sponsors are a part of the Executive Committee of the Computer Society Standards Activities Board, directly responsible for making and influencing Computer Society policy. A sponsor and its members are called the Standards Committee.

A sponsor is a group of individuals who have a professed interest in the development of a standard, either by direct participation or by the process of review, in technological areas that fall under the scope of interest to the Computer Society. All standards development is based on projects approved by the IEEE Standards Board, and the project is the responsibility of the sponsor from inception through to completion. A Sponsor has three primary functions:

  • To coordinate the formation of standards working groups (WGs) and to prepare new standards or revise existing standards. The coordination includes interested parties within the Computer Society, the IEEE, and other standards making bodies.
  • To administer the development or revision of a standard in accordance with approved procedures. This involves obtaining periodic progress reports from each WG. The progress monitoring includes ensuring adequate standards development progress, proper coordination by the WG with interested parties, and proper accounting of WG finances.
  • To ballot draft standards in accordance with the IEEE policies. The balloting process consists of forming a balloting group, having a draft document ready for ballot and mailing the document to interested balloters. This effort must be coordinated with the IEEE and the Computer Society. After the ballot is complete, the WG is then required to respond to the ballot. After successful ballot resolution, the updated draft standard is sent to the IEEE Standards office for approval processing, with a copy to the Computer Society office.
  • The authority to create or dissolve Sponsors lies with the Standards Activities Board. A formal proposal must be presented at the SAB meeting, which should include the name, scope and goals of the Sponsor; overview of planned activities; a list of interim officers; and a mailing list of prospective members who have indicated explicit interest in participating actively with the Sponsor and who will continue a basis for the success of the Sponsor.

E. Computer Society Sponsors

The Computer Society has over 200 working groups developing draft standards, under the auspices of the following sponsors:

  • Bus Architecture Standards Committee (BASC)
  • Design Automation Standards Committee (DASC)
  • LAN/MAN Standards Committee (LMSC)
  • Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC)
  • Microprocessor and Microcomputer Standards Committee (MMSC)
  • Portable Applications Standards Committee (PASC)
  • Software Engineering Standards Committee (SESC)
  • Simulation Interoperability Standards Committee (SISC)
  • Storage Systems Standards Committee (SSSC)
  • Test Technology Standards Committee (TTSC)
  • Virtual Intelligence Standards Committee (VISC)
  • SAB Sponsored Standards Commitee (SSC)
    • Computer Dictionary
    • Internet Best Practices Study Group


F. Working Groups

Working Groups (WGs) are the actual bodies that meet to work on a draft standard. The Chair of the WG is the contact for its activity, and is responsible for reporting to the Sponsor at periods defined by the Sponsor, and submitting copies of minutes and other materials to the Sponsor. The WG chair is appointed by the Sponsor for the period of time to produce the standard, or until replaced by the Sponsor, or until the WG is dissolved. Sponsors may also have requirements for chairs to be elected or affirmed by the WG membership. The chair is responsible for submitting a copy of all updated draft documents to the Sponsor, the Computer Society, and the IEEE. The authority to create, merge, or dissolve WGs lies with the Sponsor. A WG Chair should be a member of the Computer Society and have the support of his/her institution. A Working Group has the following primary functions:

Standards Development

  • To prepare and receive approval for a Project Authorization Request (PAR).
  • To develop a draft standard. The draft should be technically viable and in the style dictated by the IEEE Style Manual.
  • To coordinate draft standard development with interested parties within the Computer Society, IEEE, and other designated Standards Development Organizations.
  • To distribute copies of all draft versions to the Computer Society and the IEEE.
  • To deliver the agreed upon draft to the Sponsor for balloting, and respond to the Sponsor ballot comments. Each ballot marked negative or with comments must be resolved among members of the WG.


  • To hold and attend WG meetings.
  • To communicate with the WG membership, prepare and distribute minutes to members.
  • To submit status reports to the sponsor at intervals specified by the sponsor.
  • To establish a means for elections/appointments for a successor to the Chair position.
  • To receive orientation materials, standards development kits, policies and procedures, and other materials from the IEEE and Computer Society as guides for performing as a volunteer leader.
  • To communicate changes in chair, addresses, etc. to the Computer Society.

Membership in WGs is open to all interested parties. The goal is to promote a broad consensus on each standard. It is important to note that WG members must be members of the IEEE Standards Association to participate in the balloting of a draft standard.

VI. Finances

A. Committee Budgets and Reports

  • Budget Requests: Though the Computer Society’s Standards Activities should strive to be self-supporting, limited funds are sometimes allocated for committee activities. Sponsors are required to submit their budget requests for the following year in the current year, to the Vice President of Standards for consideration. (See Budget Request Form.)
  • Expense/Income Reports: Committees that keep their funds inside the Computer Society receive periodic expense/income reports from the CS. Committees that have bank accounts outside of the CS should obtain and follow CS guidelines related to opening accounts, and provide at least quarterly statements of activity.

B. Standards Development

  • Self-Supporting: The Computer Society’s Standards Activities should strive to be self-supporting, limiting CS allocated funding to that required for reasonable oversight, specified events (e.g., hosting one meeting of an international standards committee), support from training, and short-term startup costs of new standards activities.
  • Fees: Standards committees and working groups should recover expenses of normal operations (e.g. meeting facilities, distribution of agendas, working papers, minutes) through approved fees.
  • Startup Support: Startup support may be provided for new activities which are not a part of an established standards program of work. Such support should be limited to that necessary for the activity to attract sufficient participation to be able to support itself for two years. [NOTE: “New” activities are those which do not fall within an established standards committee’s scope of work. A POSIX related activity, for instance, would be self-supporting from its initial meeting.] Ongoing support for those activities unable to support themselves is discouraged.
  • Generating Revenues: Standards Activities are encouraged to sponsor “spin-off” activities such as tutorials, seminars, and additional implementors workshops (such as the OSI Implementors Workshop currently cosponsored with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology). In this manner, the Standards Activities Board could generate additional revenues to support its activities. All such activities should be coordinated through the appropriate staff and volunteer group and follow established policies and procedures.

C. International Program Fee

The International Program Fee (IPF) is applicable only if the working group is involved or intends to be involved with ISO/IEC JTC1. The following information is for understanding the purpose, extent, and means for administering the JTC-1 International Program Fee.

1. Background:

  • It is now a program fee; it was originally called “International Participants Fee”.
  • The IPF applies only to JTC-1 Information Technology (IT) standards work where the IEEE is contributing to international (ISO or IEC) standards.
  • The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) billing is for $300 per “participant” per year. The first full yearly cycle was in 1993, with 1992 a start-up year.
  • The IPF is being billed to all Standards Development Organizations involved in IT standards (e.g., ASC X3, IEEE, EIA).
  • While the annual amount and the “participant” count remain fairly common throughout all SDOs, the means of collecting the fees may vary as a function of SDO-dependent procedures and policies.

2. Purpose: The IPF is being administered to facilitate underwriting part of the cost of ANSI’s Secretariat staff where that staff is supporting JTC-1 IT programs. Specifically, these programs cover: JTC-1 Secretariat, SC-6 Data Communications, SC-11 Media, SC-18 Text & Office Systems, SC-21 OSI.

3. Administration: Each SDO has been asked to collect the IPF on behalf of ANSI on an annual basis. It is relatively unusual to collect service fees other than to cover the direct expenses of a particular standards development committee (e.g., meeting room expenses, document duplication, coffee breaks). It is suggested that rather than pay a single annual amount for the IPF, the fee be split evenly among the number of Plenary meetings a particular committee holds (e.g., P1003 collect 25% of the annual IPF at each of four meetings, P802 collect 33 1/3% of the annual IPF at each of three meetings). Each committee is to determine the exact method and manner of fee collection. Payment of the fees should be made to the IEEE and sent to the IEEE Standards Office in Piscataway, New Jersey (Attn: Karen DeChino), which will forward the collected amount to ANSI.

4. Planning Assistance: Several individuals are familiar with the underlying IPF needs and related administration processes and may be able to assist those standards development committees now undertaking the IPF program. Talk to the sponsor, Vice President of Standards, or appointed International Chair of the Standards Activities Board.

VII. Your Standards Work Begins

A. Resources

Development of standards in the IEEE is governed by various sets of policies and procedures. At the very highest level are the documents that govern the IEEE:

Those documents delegate the responsibility for standards activities to the IEEE Standards Association. The IEEE-SA is governed by a Board of Governors operating under procedures described by:

To implement these responsibilities, the IEEE-SA Standards Board meets four times a year. Its operations are governed by:

The IEEE-SA and the Standards Board can be contacted through their designated staff liaisons. A complete list of IEEE standards staff is compiled in the staff directory.

The Standards Board has developed the IEEE Standards Style Manual to explain the required format and content of an IEEE standard. The IEEE Standards Companion provides an informal and readable overview of the entire IEEE standards development process.

The existing collection of IEEE standards can be viewed in the IEEE product catalog.

The IEEE Standards Kit, sent to new working group chairs, contains copies of many of these documents. All of the documents can be accessed at the IEEE Standards Website.

B. Membership Requirements

The official reporter, usually the Working Group Chair, of an IEEE standards project is required to satisfy the appropriate membership requirements. Typically, those who ballot on the standard must also be members. (There are provisions for non-member “expert” balloters and observers; their votes do not “count” in the numerical requirements for consensus although their comments are often influential.)

The membership requirements are to (1) be a member of the IEEE or an affiliate of one of its constituent societies, like the Computer Society, and (2) be a member of the IEEE Standards Association. Membership information can be obtained as follows:

C. The Project Authorization Request (PAR)

A Project Authorization Request (PAR) is needed to initiate or change a standard. The PAR is sponsored by one of the many standards sponsors that exist under the auspices of the Standards Activity Board (SAB) of the IEEE Computer Society. All Computer Society PARs must be copied to the reflector in order to provide information about your project to the Computer Society SAB and other interested persons.

The PAR form is available as a part of the IEEE Working Guide for Submittal of Proposed Standards. Typically, the PAR is developed by the working group and forwarded to the sponsor for submission to the New Standards Committee (NesCom) of the Standards Board. After consideration by Nescom, the PAR is ultimately forwarded to the Standards Board for final approval. Nescom and the Standards Board meet four times a year and are made up of volunteers who are provided with very little time to review dozens of submissions. This leads to a great deal of reliance on form. Care must be taken to complete the PAR form exactly in accordance with the instructions. Virtually any deviation from the proper form will lead to a return of the PAR to its originator and a delay of three months until the next meeting.

When completing a PAR form, it is critical that the entries be well thought out. When the completed draft standard comes up for approval and acceptance, it will be compared with the original PAR. The title should match the title of the standard. The written draft standard should match scope and purpose as stated in the PAR. Coordination with specific groups (i.e. SCC 10, SCC 14, and IEEE Staff Editorial Review) is required and additional groups should be included depending on the nature of the standard. Care should be taken to avoid unnecessary coordination since documentation of such coordination will be required when the standard is submitted for approval.

D. Developing the Standard

The IEEE standards staff is prepared to accept standards in a variety of word-processor formats. The standard must conform, though, to the requirements of the IEEE Style Manual. Word processing templates for IEEE Standards are available by contacting an IEEE Standards Project Editor.

E. Changing Official Reporter

If it is necessary for another person to assume the role of Official Reporter, the Standards Board must be notified. A form is available for this purpose.

F. Submitting the Standard

When the drafting and balloting of a proposed standard are completed, the final draft must be submitted to the Review Committee (RevCom) of the IEEE Standards Board. (Some sponsors have additional requirements, though.) RevCom ensures that the draft is in proper format and that procedural requirements for consensus have been followed. Based on upon RevCom’s recommendation, the Standards Board approves the standard for publication.

RevCom meets four times a year. A typical meeting may involve the review of dozens of submissions, so it is important that all submission requirements are fulfilled. These requirements are summarized in the Guide for Submittal of Proposed Standard.

VIII. More Information

Policies and Procedures: Computer Society Standards Activities Board

SECTION 10: Standards, of the Computer Society P&P