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What is Oversight

In the early days of the Internet, oversight, or ‘final authority’, over the IANA functions was carried out by Jon Postel and Joyce K. Reynolds who worked for the University of Southern California (UCS) and the University of California at LA (UCLA) and who managed the IANA function from its inception on the ARPANET until the end of the 1990s. The contracting party then shifted from DARPA (an agency of the Department of Defense) to the NTIA (an agency of the Department of Commerce), while the role of contractor was taken by the recently formed ICANN. Since 2000, NTIA and ICANN have held the contract for the IANA functions. However, in one of its initial communiqués issued in 1998, “Statement of Policy on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses” the NTIA already announced its intention to transition the oversight of this function at a certain point in the future so this has come as no surprise to the Internet community.  In the communiqué, the NTIA stated that the oversight transition would be the final phase in the privatisation of the DNS.


Oversight Tasks

The NTIA has no direct role in policy-making or operational implementation for Internet number resources but it does play a significant role in making, holding and changing the contract for IANA’s operational management. The actual tasks involved in oversight vary depending on each of IANA’s functions. For example, approval of a change to the DNS root zone file requires an NTIA employee to verify that the documented policy has been followed correctly. In terms of Internet number resource allocations, IANA has the authority to make allocations to the RIRs according to the current global community-developed policies without approval from the NTIA. No such sign-off is required for the IANA operator to make an Internet number resource allocation to an RIR, in line with existing policy.

Past contract renewals of the NTIA-ICANN contract have included the updating of service terms, often with input from the IANA stakeholders.

Check the NRO submission to NTIA in 2011 for background information.