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ITU-T Rec. A.7 and Focus Groups in a Nutshell

Rec. A.7 is one of the Recommendations that organize the work of ITU-T. In particular, it defines how an “arms-length” entity – called “Focus Groups” in ITU-T parlance – can be created at any time to work in close relationship with an ITU-T Study Group on a well-defined topic while maintaining significant independence. This independence is expressed in terms of freedom to choose its working methods, membership, type of outcomes, financing, and administration. Products from the Focus Groups can be considered as ITU-T products, although they do not enjoy the same status of ITU-T Recommendations (which are produced under “regular” ITU-T working rules and procedures). If so desired, products from a Focus Group could be upgraded by the parent Study Group, through its normal approval procedures, to become a Study Group-approved product (e.g. ITU-T Recommendations and Supplements). Focus Groups can be a very good strategy for creating very dynamic working environment, low overhead, and quick decision-making environment.

A.7 is also flexible as to how to create a Focus Group: during a formal meeting of one of the ITU-T Study Groups; or in-between those meetings, upon agreement by a review committee. In the latter case, the Focus Group can start working immediately upon its creation, but its formal approval would take place at the next formal meeting of its chosen “parent” ITU-T Study Group.

The creation of a Focus Group can be requested by any ITU-T member, and its establishment can be agreed only after the strategic consideration of aspects such as the objectives for such a group, draft working methods, financing, types of outputs, and relationship with its parent Study Group. In an exceptional case, a Focus Group might be created by the Director of TSB if he deems it urgent for the best interest of ITU-T.

In summary, A.7 provides a flexible and nurturing environment for quick progression of specifications by the industry within the general framework of ITU-T.