A pile of federation policies One of the things that quickly sets most federations in to a spin is the idea of writing a Federation Policy.  For the Research and Education federations that have emerged over the last 10 years, the concept of policy has been a steep learning curve…with most federations probably happy to admit that they would ‘do things differently’ if starting from scratch again.

Whilst there are now many example policies that emerging federations can follow, it is often difficult to understand why any particular federation has made the decision to approach policy in a certain way.  As might be obvious from the pile of policies on my living room floor, there are many many different styles and approaches in current federation policy.  Even deciding on a title for the document can be difficult, are you creating federations rules, terms of use, a contract, or a policy?

REFEDS and GEANT are currently involved in two pieces of work to help work towards standardising this area:

  • REFEDS is looking at existing federation documents and suggesting ways in which current practise could be simplified and moved towards a more standard form. The work is producing recommendations for ‘content blocks’ that might be included in federation policy, a description of why these are used, and a mapping of existing policy wording against these areas.  Examples of the ‘How To Join’ description and wording, and mapping to existing federations are a good place to start.
  • GEANT is looking to produce a ‘lite’ framework for policy that new an emerging federations can easily adopt and adapt.  An early version of this template is available on the TERENA site, with information from the EuroCAMP recently run to explain this process.

Both of these approaches are focused on not just WHAT goes in to federation policy, but also WHY you might find certain areas important.

Some of the typical questions we have long discussions around with people wanting to write a federation policy are about member eligibility, whether to use a signed contract or a terms of use approach, governance questions for the federation and interfederation / interoperability questions.  Both the REFEDS work and the GEANT work tries to address these points.

There are three major goals to this work:

  1. To make it easier for new and emerging federations to implement services within their countries best on best practise.
  2. To encourage existing federations to simply their practise and work towards convergence;
  3. To support consistent working across federations to better support interfederation approaches.

As usual with all of this work, any input that will improve this process would be very gratefully received.  You can get involved by joining the REFEDS list or by contacting us directly.