(4 September 2000) ICANN announced today that its agreements with the United States Government will be extended for up to one year. Under the agreements, the first of which was entered in November 1998, the U.S. Government and ICANN have been engaged in a transition of selected Internet technical-management functions (such as the domain-name system) to the private sector. The extensions are necessary to allow ICANN and its constituent organizations to complete the privatization of these functions, and were approved by the ICANN Board at its meeting on 30 August 2000.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce in November 1998, the parties agreed to work jointly on a series of tasks necessary to complete the privatization. The parties originally anticipated that the tasks would be completed in approximately two years and scheduled a completion date of 30 September 2000. In a progress report on the MOU submitted to the Department of Commerce in June 2000, ICANN gave a detailed account of progress on the privatization tasks, noting that many of them have been completed but that some work remains to be done on a few others. The tasks remaining to be completed include:
- the process for evaluation and possible creation of new Internet top-level domains (TLDs);
- the completion of composition of the ICANN Board by selection of Directors by a vote of registered Internet users;
- enhancements to the architecture of the Internet's root-nameserver system;
- formalization of contractual relationships between ICANN and the regional Internet Protocol address registries (RIRs); and
- establishment of stable arrangements between ICANN and the organizations responsible for the operation of country-code TLDs (ccTLDs).
Under the agreement, the MOU is extended to 30 September 2001 or sooner if ICANN and the U.S. Government agree that the work under the MOU has been completed. In addition to being extended, the MOU is being revised to recognize ICANN's progress by narrowing the list of remaining tasks. The arrangement as modified and extended assumes that a gradual transition will continue, with policy and operational responsibilities transferred from the U.S. Government to ICANN as the various remaining tasks are completed. Among the areas to be transitioned is responsibility for operational coordination of the root-nameserver system. With respect to ccTLDs, ICANN will assume the authority to perform under contracts with ccTLD organizations once those agreements are reached.
Also included in the agreed extensions are two subsidiary agreements: a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce for enhancements to the root-nameserver system and a contract for operation of the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA). The CRADA is being extended for one year; the IANA contract extension results from ICANN's acceptance of a new provision in the contract allowing the U.S. Government unilaterally to extend the period of performance by up to six months.
Mike Roberts, ICANN's President and CEO, noted that, in agreeing to the extension, the U.S. Government has recognized the enormous strides that the Internet community has made since late 1998 in demonstrating its ability to perform the functions being transitioned to the private sector. According to Roberts, "We have made much progress, and the end is in sight. With the continuing support of the U.S. Government and the Internet community as a whole, we expect to complete the remaining transition tasks without the need for additional extensions."