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ICANN Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Terms of Reference for Independent Review of the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC)

2 November 2007

ICANN is seeking public comments on proposed Terms of Reference, which detail questions that would guide the independent review of ICANN's DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC). The public comment period will last from 2 Novemer 2007 to 1 December 2007. Send comments to: rssac-review-tor@icann.org. View comments at: http://forum.icann.org/lists/rssac-review-tor/.

ICANN's Board Governance Committee (BGC) approved a proposed plan for the RSSAC review, and ICANN's Board agreed and directed staff to post proposed Terms of Reference for public comments and further consideration.

Draft Terms of Reference for the Independent Review of the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee

ICANN's Bylaws require that Supporting Organisations, Councils and Advisory Committees be independently reviewed. These Terms of Reference will form the basis for a review of the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC). The purpose of the Review is to help determine the best way forward, but such analysis depends in the first instance upon a solid assessment of how the RSSAC has performed to date.

The results of the Review shall be posted for public review and comment, and shall be considered by the Board not later than its second scheduled meeting after being posted for 30 days. As provided in the Bylaws, consideration by the Board includes the ability to revise the structure or operation of the RSSAC by a two thirds vote of all Members.

A. Scope of Review

In accordance with Article IV, Section 4, Paragraph 1 of the ICANN Bylaws, the review of the RSSAC is designed to determine:

  • Whether the organization has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure; and
  • If so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness.

Both of these questions should be answered as comprehensively as possible, taking into account the rationale for the RSSAC and its functioning so far. Key questions that the Review should consider are indicated below. This list is intended to be illustrative, rather than definitive or exhaustive, particularly as the initial results of the Review may suggest related questions that should also be answered. It will be important to consider the questions from different perspectives, including past and current members of the RSSAC, the ICANN Board, other Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) and perhaps others within (and outside of) the ICANN community.

It is also important to note that this is a review of the ICANN Root Server System Advisory Committee, not a review of the operation of the Root Servers.

B. Rationale for the RSSAC

In accordance of Article XI, Section 2 of the Bylaws , the role of the Root Server System Advisory Committee ("RSSAC") is to advise the Board about the operation of the root name servers of the domain name system. The RSSAC considers and provides advice on the operational requirements of root name servers, including host hardware capacities, operating systems and name server software versions, network connectivity and physical environment. The RSSAC also examines and advises on the security aspects of the root name server system, as well as reviews the number, location, and distribution of root name servers considering the total system performance, robustness, and reliability. (See http://icann.org/committees/dns-root/ for RSSAC information)

Membership in the RSSAC consists of (i) each operator of an authoritative root name server (as listed at ftp://ftp.internic.net/domain/named.root), and (ii) such other persons as are appointed by the ICANN Board. The Chair is elected by the members of the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee pursuant to procedures adopted by the members. The RSSAC appoints one non-voting liaison to the ICANN Board of Directors.

C. Questions to Address

PART I. Does the RSSAC have a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure?

1. What purpose does the RSSAC serve?

2. Has the RSSAC been effective in providing advice to the ICANN Board on matters as outlined in the Bylaws?

3. How does RSSAC interact with other ICANN SOs and ACs? Are there regular communications between the RSSAC and other SOs and ACs?

4. How effective has the RSSAC been in providing input and advice to other SOs and ACs?

5. Overall, how effectively has RSSAC performed its role?

6. Does the rationale for the RSSAC in the Bylaws need to be revised?

7. What should be the purpose of the RSSAC going forward?

PART II. Is there any change in structure or operations that could improve the RSSAC's effectiveness?

Structure and composition

8. What is the optimal size of RSSAC to maximize its effectiveness? Has the Board made effective use of its ability to appoint members of the ICANN community other than Root Server Operators to RSSAC?

9. What should be the role of the Chair of the RSSAC, and how should that person be selected?

10. Have members of the RSSAC had the skills needed to conduct their work effectively?

11. Does a non-voting liaison seat on the Board provide sufficient input and representation for the Root Server System community? Is there any change needed?

Internal Operations and Procedures

12. How does the RSSAC determine what advice to provide with respect to particular ICANN issues? What procedures govern how decisions regarding RSSAC input for the Board and other ICANN entities are made? Are any changes needed to these procedures to improve the timeliness and quality of advice that is provided?

13. To what extent are the RSSAC's decisions and actions consistent with its procedures?

14. Are sufficient safeguards in place to identify and address potential or actual conflicts of interest?

15. Does the RSSAC operate in an accountable and transparent manner? Are any changes to RSSAC procedures necessary to enhance accountability and transparency?

16. Are the RSSAC's procedures sufficient to guide all aspects of its work?

Resources and support

17. Has the RSSAC had the resources necessary to accomplish its tasks?

18. What kind of support has ICANN provided to the RSSAC? What is the appropriate level of financial, institutional and staff support that should be provided to RSSAC?


19. What other general or specific measures could enhance the effectiveness of RSSAC?