Note: On 10 April 2012, the Board established the New gTLD Program Committee, comprised of all voting members of the Board that are not conflicted with respect to the New gTLD Program. The Committee was granted all of the powers of the Board (subject to the limitations set forth by law, the Articles of incorporation, Bylaws or ICANN's Conflicts of Interest Policy) to exercise Board-level authority for any and all issues that may arise relating to the New gTLD Program. The full scope of the Committee's authority is set forth in its charter at http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/new-gTLD.
A Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors was held on 6 May 2012 at 4:00 pm local time in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Committee Chairman Cherine Chalaby promptly called the meeting to order.
In addition to the Chair the following Directors participated in all or part of the meeting: Rod Beckstrom, Chris Disspain, Bill Graham, Gonzalo Navarro, Ray Plzak, R. Ramaraj, George Sadowsky, Mike Silber, and Kuo-Wei Wu.
Thomas Roessler, TLG Liaison and non-voting liaison to the committee, and Thomas Narten, IETF Liaison and non-voting liaison to the committee, were also in attendance.
Heather Dryden, GAC Liaison, attended as an observer.
Erika Mann sent apologies.
The President and CEO introduced the proposed resolution. He asked the Committee to consider whether there should be a provision for a small percentage of interest to accompany the refund.
Chris Disspain asked for information as to why the date for the refund was set at the reveal, instead of at the close of the application window.
Kurt Pritz noted that it may take businesses more than just a couple of days to make that decision, so using the reveal date provided a couple of extra weeks.
Chris commented that the close of the window, once the TAS is opened again, is date-certain, while the reveal date will not be date-certain unless ICANN announces in advance what the reveal date will be.
The General Counsel and Secretary confirmed that the intent was to leave a full refund window open as long as was reasonable, to a point where it could not be gamed. Gaming seemed to be a greater possibility upon the reveal of applications. Timing the full refund deadline to the reveal date will give the applicants maximum benefit.
Thomas Narten suggested that the longer the option for the full refund is available, the more potential exists for gaming. Thomas also inquired as to whether the Committee had prior conversation on this topic prior to his joining the Committee.
The Chair confirmed that it had been discussed on an informational call once prior.
The General Counsel and Secretary confirmed that there had been analysis done on the potential impact.
George Sadowsky noted that he is satisfied with the resolution and would recommend including a provision of 1% interest as a rebate.
R. Ramaraj suggested that if interest would be provided, the resolution would have to be very clear in specifying that interest would only be provided for the period of time the money was with ICANN.
Thomas Roessler requested some information on the refund schedule already set out in the Applicant Guidebook.
The General Counsel and Secretary confirmed that through reveal, applicants were currently entitled to a refund of 97% of fees, as opposed to a full 100%.
The Chair suggested that if interest was granted, it should only be for the timeframe within which TAS was offline.
Kurt Pritz noted that if ICANN offered to pay interest, but only at 1% and for a very short period of time, it may not be favorably received by the community, and instead would be viewed as a half-hearted gesture.
Chris agreed with Kurt, and commented that, from a public relations perspective, ICANN would have to be paying something approximating the borrowing rate. Otherwise, ICANN would be seen to be offering a very small amount that did not seem to be worth the bother.
Thomas Roessler commented that any decision on interest would make ICANN look petty, choosing between small percentages. He suggested dropping the interest portion and keeping the refund to the money that ICANN received from the applicants.
Thomas Narten noted that the amount of money at issue, just a couple hundred dollars per application if interest was granted, is likely not worth discussing.
The Chair agreed that though providing interest is a good idea, it seems to just complicate the issue and can be taken out. The Chair then conducted a short straw poll and confirmed that the majority seemed to be in favor of not including a provision for interest.
The President and CEO then moved, and George Sadowsky seconded the following resolution:
Whereas, the TLD Application System (TAS) has been offline since 12 April 2012 due to a technical glitch and the application window will not be closed until TAS reopens for a period of at least five days.
Whereas, ICANN recognizes that, during the pendency of the glitch, applicants may have re-evaluated decisions to participate in the New gTLD Program.
Whereas, the Applicant Guidebook at Section 1.5.1 sets out a tiered refund schedule in the event that an applicant wishes to withdraw its application.
Resolved (2012.05.06.NG01), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the CEO to offer to applicants a full refund of the New gTLD Application fee actually paid to ICANN if the applicant wishes to withdraw its application prior to the date that ICANN publicly posts the identification of all TLD applications.
All voting members of the Committee in attendance voted in favor of the Resolution. Erika Mann was not available to vote. The Resolution carried.
Out of recognition that some applicants within the first application round of the New gTLD Program may have re-evaluated their decision to participate in the Program during the time when the TLD Application System has been offline, the New gTLD Program Committee has determined to offer full refunds of amounts paid to ICANN if the applicants withdraw prior to the public identification of all TLD applications submitted in the first round. Under the Applicant Guidebook, the applicants would otherwise be entitled to a tiered refund schedule.
This action may have a minor negative impact on ICANN resources, to the extent that ICANN incurred costs in conducting an initial legal check of a withdrawing applicant, or incurs any fees for the return of funds. However, the fiscal impact of these occurrences is expected to be minimal. In line with ICANN's stated process for evaluation of applications, ICANN has not conducted further evaluation of the applications received to date, and therefore no other per-application fee costs have been incurred. On balance with the minimal fiscal impact to ICANN, this action is expected to have a minor positive impact on the ICANN community as it allows applicants an additional choice in response to their business needs. This action is not expected to impact the security, stability or resiliency of the domain name system.
The President and CEO thanked the Committee for this action.
The Chair called the meeting to a close.