Root Server System Advisory Committee

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The Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) advises the ICANN Community and Board on issues pertaining to the operation, administration, security, and integrity of the Internet's Root Server System.[1] It was created under the Article VII Section 3 (b) of the ICANN Bylaws, which gave the ICANN Board the mandate to appoint the initial Chairman of the Committee, after which the following chairman was to be elected by the members of the committee. Jun Murai was appointed as the first chairman of the RSSAC.[2]


RSSAC was delegated to advise the ICANN Board regarding the operational requirements of the root name servers of the Domain Name System (DNS), which includes hardware capacities, operating systems, name server versions, network connectivity, physical environment as well as its security aspects. RSSAC was also tasked to review the number, location, and distribution of the root name server and its total system performance, robustness, and reliability.[3]



The RSSAC includes representatives from each of the organizations responsible for operating the 13 root name servers, all of which are voting members. It also includes representatives from organizations responsible for the maintenance of the authoritative root zone, non of which are voting members. Liaisons from external organizations also participate as non-voting members.

Voting Members
A/J- Brad Verd, Verisign, Term Expires: 31 December 2015
B- Was Hardaker, University of Southern California, Term Expires: 31 December 2017
C- Paul Vixie, Cogent, Term Expires: 31 Expires 2017
D- Tripti Sinha (Co-Chair), University of Maryland, Term Expires: 31 December 2016
E- Kevin Jones, NASA, Term Expires: 31 December 2016
F- Jim Martin, Internet Consortium, Term Expires: 31 December 2015
G- Jim Cassell, US Department of Defense, Term Expires: 31 December 2016
H- Howard Kash, US Army Research Labratory, Term Expires: 31 December 2016
I- Lars-Johan Liman (Co-Chair), Netnod, Term Expires: 31 December 2015
K- Daniel Karrenberg, RIPE NCC, Term Expires: 31 December 2017
L- John Crain, ICANN, Term Expires: 31 December 2015
M- Jun Murai, WIDE Project, Term Expires: 31 December 2017

Non-Voting Members

RSSAC Projects

Since its inception, the committee continuously performs projects under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)[4] between ICANN, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to conduct a collaborative study to address the operational and technical requirements of the root name servers to be able to establish a more robust and secure management of the Internet DNS root server system.[5]

The RSSAC was also involved in the Y2K Project between 1999 to 2000. Its objective was to make sure that the operations of the root nameserver system is in compliance with Y2K protocol by conducting administrative services and testing.[6]

The committee is also conducting new technical developments on IPv6, DNSSEC, IDN, and their effects to the root nameserver system.

WCL Independent Review on RSSAC

Article IV, Section 4, Paragraph 1 of the ICANN Bylaws stipulated that a review on the performance and operations of the RSSAC by an independent organization is required to determine if the committee is still serving its purpose in the ICANN structure and if certain changes in the structure or operations are necessary to improve its functions.[7] To be able to comply with the Bylaws, the ICANN Board issued a Request For Proposal and Terms of Reference to conduct and independent review on the RSSAC in July, 2008.[8] ICANN selected Westlake Consulting Limited, and in November of 2008, the company started performing face to face interviews with some individuals during the ICANN Meeting in Cairo and during the IETF meeting in Minnesota regarding RSSAC. WCL also conducted telephone interviews and accessed all available written-records regarding the committee. [9]


By April of 2009, WCL published its final report on the Independent Review on RSSAC with the following findings:[10]

  • RSSAC only provides reactions to issues instead of regularly giving updates to the ICANN Board regarding the activities and functions of the committee.
  • Communication and agreement about the expectations of the Board towards the committee is insufficient.
  • RSSAC provides minimal strategic advice to the ICANN Board because the committee is dominated by independent root server operators that are focused on operations.
  • The records of the RSSAC meetings are poor and incomplete.
  • The election process of the members of the committee and its chairman is not clear.
  • The Root Server Operators believed that some of the functions of RSSAC identified in the Bylaws of ICANN are their responsibility, and because of that the committee's reported little of its responsibilities.
  • Interaction between RSSAC and the different organization within ICANN is limited because most of the committee's members do not or seldom participate in ICANN Meetings. RSSAC committee members frequently attend or conduct their meeting in conjunction with the meetings of the IETF.


Based on its final report, WCL recommended the following to improve the operational functions of RSSAC:[11]

  • Re-establish RSSAC as a strategy group which will be jointly supervised by ICANN and Root Server Operators.
  • Amend the Terms of Reference of the ICANN Bylaws and set out a new role for RSSAC to "provide a source of unbiased strategic advice to ICANN, the Root Server Operators and the Internet Community about the best way ahead for the Root Server System."
  • Reconstitute RSSAC's membership with 9 initial members who have strong technical backgrounds. The committee should be composed of 4 Root Server Operators, 1 appointed by IANA; and 4 appointed by the ICANN Board/Nominating Committee.
  • The Chairman of the committee shall be appointed by its members with a two year term, with a limited three consecutive 2-years terms.
  • Appoint non-voting liaison members, which include Outward liaison from the RSSAC to the ICANN Board and the SSAC and an Inward liaison to the RSSAC from IETF/IAB.
  • RSSAC should meet in conjunction with ICANN meetings and may be able to hold additional meetings as necessary; meetings shall be open for public participation and hold a closed meeting if necessary; Root Server Operators and members of the ICANN Board should be invited to the meeting even during closed sessions and shall be given the right to speak under the RSSAC Chairman's discretion.

RSSAC Working Group Review on WCL Report

In June, 2010, the RSSAC Working Group submitted its final report regarding the findings of WCL's independent review. The Working Group acknowledged that the committee was not able to fully serve its purpose in the ICANN structure because of lack of regular communication between ICANN and RSSAC, the committee has insufficient knowledge about ICANN and vice versa, the role and responsibilities of RSSAC as stipulated in the ICANN Bylaws need amendment and the shared understanding between the RSSAC role, Root Server Operators responsibilities and the ICANN mission is not clear. The Working Group recommended that the full cooperation of the Root Server Operators is necessary to implement structural and operational changes to improve the operations of RSSAC.[12]


At its regular meeting in November 2014, the RSSAC formally approved RSSAC001 and RSSAC002, the first two formal advisories produced under its reorganized structure. RSSAC001 defines the best practice service to be provided by root servers and defines the operational expectations that users might reasonably anticipate of both that service and the root server operators. This document highlights that a diversity of approach is desirable in the root server system.[13]

RSSAC002 "identifies and recommends an initial set of parameters that would be useful to monitor for establishing a baseline and trends for the root server system. The implementation of these measurements (and future refinements to them) by root server operators will form an early warning system that will assist in detecting and mitigating any effects (or the absence of such effects) associated with growing size of the root zone."[14]

RSSAC Working Group

The RSSAC Working Group is composed of:


  1. Root Server System Advisory Committee
  3. Article VII Section (3)b Original Bylaws
  4. CRADA
  6. RSSAC Statement on Root Nameserver Year 2000 Status
  7. ICANN Bylaws 2002
  8. Request For Proposals
  9. RSSAC Review
  10. WCL Final Report
  11. Final Report Independent Review on RSSAC
  12. RSSAC Working Group Final Report
  13. ICANN RSSAC approves advisories on service expectations Domainpulse, Retrieved 17th December 2014.
  14. ICANN RSSAC approves advisories on service expectations Domainpulse, Retrieved 17th December 2014.