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About the FY20 Board Activities and Operational Priorities

18 October 2019
By Cherine Chalaby

ICANN66 in Montreal, Canada, is just around the corner, and the ICANN Board would once again like to share its activities and operational priorities for Fiscal Year[1] 2020 (FY20), much like it did in previous years. Please find my FY19 blog here.

The Board’s activities and operational priorities continue to be divided into five key areas of responsibility, referred to as “blocks,” that the Board uses to organize and think about its work.

Within these blocks of responsibilities, the Board's substantive activities are most often community-driven. The Board has also identified a number of additional priorities for the year to improve its own operational efficiency. Each operational priority has associated deliverables, timelines, and measurements.

For each block, I (i) provide a short overview of the Board's main duties, (ii) go over the various activities the Board is focusing on, and (iii) outline the operational priorities that we've laid out.

Block 1 – Oversight Over Policy Development and Community Initiatives

The duties of the Board under this responsibility include:

  • Being well informed of the content, priority, and timing of all policies being developed by the community in order to be prepared to approve these policies when submitted to the Board.
  • Responding to Supporting Organization/Advisory Committee (SO/AC) advice on a timely basis.
  • Providing timely comments to community activities (e.g. PDPs, CCWGs and Reviews).

FY20 Activities

With respect to community-driven activities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – The Board continues to work with ICANN org and the community on several fronts:

  • Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Phase 2
    We are monitoring this work closely, with two Board members serving as liaisons to the EPDP. We acknowledge the progress that has been made so far and look forward to the group developing further recommendations.
  • Unified Access Model
    Developing a legally compliant access/disclosure model to non-public data has been part of ICANN org's GDPR discussions from the start. In FY20, the Board has set a goal for the CEO to seek more legal guidance and certainty for all parties with respect to a possible legally compliant access/disclosure model to non-public data, in order to reduce the legal risks for contracted parties who offer WHOIS services. The support and input from the community to seek that guidance from the Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) is important.

New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP – The Board continues to follow the work being done in this PDP in preparation for receiving its recommendations. The Board stands ready to provide input and feedback when appropriate.

CCWG on Auction Proceeds – The Board continues to follow this work, with two Board members serving as liaisons to the working group, and has provided prompt responses to questions raised by the CCWG.

IGO-INGO Curative Rights – The Board is monitoring the progress of the IGO-INGO Access to Curative Rights Mechanisms PDP Working Group, and is hopeful that a path forward is developed to facilitate the resolution of the outstanding issues between GAC advice and prior GNSO policy recommendations on the overall scope of IGO protections.

Monitoring Other Policies Under Development – As with all policies under development, the Board continues to follow these with interest, and stands ready to provide input and feedback when appropriate, while awaiting the policy recommendations. In FY20, the Board is monitoring the progress of the:

  • Expired registration recovery policy
  • Scoping issues on transfer policy
  • Review of all rights protection mechanisms
  • Retirement of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs)
  • IDN ccTLDs

FY20 Operational Priorities

With respect to operational priorities, in FY20 the Board continues to focus on alignment with and furthering ICANN's mission. In particular:

1.1 Understanding the Global Public Interest (GPI) – The Board will propose a framework for GPI, considering community input and prior community work on the subject. Once completed, this framework is intended to guide the Board’s determination of GPI in its decisions and to assist the community in making recommendations and in giving advice that guides the Board in making decisions consistent with the GPI.

1.2 Framework for Board Liaisons – ICANN’s Board liaisons play an important role in acting as a two-way conduit between the Board and community activities (e.g. PDPs, CCWGs and Reviews). The objective is to provide early notice to the Board of critical issues and inform the community promptly of the Board’s thinking. The Board will develop guidelines to clarify and formalize the role of Board liaisons, based on this objective.

BLOCK 2 – ICANN Org Oversight

The duties of the Board under this responsibility include:

  • Ensuring that community-approved policies are implemented in a manner consistent with the adopted policies.
  • Overseeing the implementation of significant engineering projects undertaken by ICANN org.
  • Overseeing that ICANN org is delivering operational services to the community both effectively and efficiently.
  • Overseeing the development of the annual Operating Plan & Budget.

FY20 Activities

With respect to community-driven activities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

Domain Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR) – The Board continues to oversee the development of this system, which currently holds almost 36 months of data. ICANN org has started providing regular reports from that data to the Board and to the community.

Information Transparency Initiative (ITI) – The Board is overseeing the development of this system, which is in its 16th month of implementation work. The ITI project team continues to make progress on the technical architecture of the documentation management system (DMS) and the content management system (CMS).

Accountability Workstream 2 (WS2) Implementation Plan – Following approval by the chartering organizations of the WS2 recommendations, the Board is working with ICANN org to consult the WS2 Implementation Team and the community on options for moving forward with the implementation of WS2 recommendations in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

DNS Incident Coordination Function –The Board is overseeing the work undertaken by ICANN org to create a DNS Incident Coordination Function, in conjunction with other players in that space.

Operating & Financial Plan (FY21 – FY25) – The new Strategic Plan, which sets out ICANN’s direction and priorities over the next five years, must be backed by a five-year Operating & Financial Plan that shows how and at what cost we will implement our chosen strategy.  The draft plan will be posted for public comment in December 2019.

FY21 Operating Plan & Budget – The Board will monitor the development of next year’s budget, being the first year of the new ICANN Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2021 to 2025. It will (a) review the draft budget before it is posted for public comment, (b) review community comments, and (c) review the final budget before voting on it.

FY20 Operational Priorities

With respect to operational priorities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

2.1 ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) Strategy – The Board Technical Committee will work with ICANN org to finalize the IMRS strategy. It will also provide oversight to ICANN org as it works on the expansion of IMRS instances and the deployment of hyperlocal DNS root services.

2.2 DNS Evolution & Security – The Board Technical Committee in conjunction with ICANN org will cooperate actively with the technical community on the evolution of the DNS and on improving its security.

BLOCK 3 – Strategic & Forward Thinking

The duties of the Board under this responsibility include:

  • Leading the development of ICANN’s Five-Year ICANN Strategic Plan and monitoring its implementation.
  • Being aware of external forces and trends at work and anticipating how they might affect ICANN and the community.
  • Thinking ahead about any structural or organizational issues and assessing their impact on ICANN.
  • Thinking ahead about ways of improving the effectiveness of ICANN’s multistakeholder model of governance.
  • Ensuring that ICANN org's globalization strategy evolves in furtherance of ICANN's Mission.

FY20 Activities

With respect to strategic and forward-thinking activities, in FY20 the Board is focusing primarily on:

Improving the Effectiveness of ICANN’s Multistakeholder Model – The Board is following a facilitated community discussion on how aspects of ICANN's multistakeholder model could evolve to improve its effectiveness. The Board is looking forward to the development of a community workplan for addressing the issues and concerns highlighted by the community over a number of years. The draft workplan will be posted for public comment in December 2019.

Readiness to Implement ICANN’s Future Plans It is imperative that we (community, Board, and ICANN org) prepare thoroughly during the first six months of 2020 to implement the three critical plans that will shape ICANN’s future, as our Bylaws mandate that these plans are effective on 1st July 2020. The three plans are: (a) the new five-year strategic plan, (b) the corresponding five-year operating & financial Plan, and (c) the workplan to improve the effectiveness of ICANN’s multistakeholder model. The Board will engage with the community on this subject at ICANN66 in Montreal.

FY20 Operational Priorities

With respect to operational priorities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

3.1 DNS Root Server Governance – The Board Technical Committee is working with ICANN org in preparing an action plan in response to advice outlined in RSSAC037 and RSSAC038, which detail recommendations regarding a proposed governance model for the DNS Root Server System.

3.2 ICANN Strategic Plan – The new ICANN Strategic Plan has to be a living document and not forgotten in a drawer. Accordingly, the Board will consult with the community and ICANN org to develop a review mechanism that allows all of us to revisit the plan at regular intervals and adjust it when necessary.

3.3 Monitoring the threat landscape – The Board will oversee a cross-committee and cross-functional team to coordinate existing efforts regarding the identification and monitoring of threats that may impact (a) the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS, (b) ICANN’s multistakeholder model, and (c) ICANN’s funding stream.

BLOCK 4 – Governance, Fiduciary and Accountability Responsibilities

The duties of the Board under this responsibility include:

  • Proficiently handling ICANN's governance and accountability issues.
  • Discharging its fiduciary (e.g. legal and financial) responsibilities.
  • Monitoring ICANN’s risks and mitigation actions.
  • Progressing the implementation (and understanding) of changes to the Bylaws.
  • Improving Board transparency and effectiveness.
  • Working on continuous improvements of both organizational and specific reviews.

FY20 Activities

With respect to its governance, fiduciary, and accountability responsibilities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

Specific Reviews – The Board is closely following the progress of the Bylaws mandated accountability and transparency Specific Reviews - ATRT3, CCT and SSR2 - through its liaisons, and strives to provide timely input when appropriate.

Organizational Reviews During FY20, the Board will be receiving regular updates on the status of implementation of the recommendations arising out of the Organizational Reviews and will provide timely input when appropriate.

Independent Review Process (IRP) – The Board has been following closely the work of the Implementation Oversight Team (IOT) regarding the development of Interim Supplementary Procedures for the ICANN IRP. Together with the SO/ACs, the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee (BAMC) has made a call to repopulate the IOT in the hope that this repopulation will provide fresh impetus to the group and help them conclude important tasks such as recommending training materials for the panelists for the IRP, and updating the Cooperative Engagement Process leading up to a filing of IRPs. The Board is also working at meeting its bylaws obligations regarding the appointment of standing panelists.

Pending Accountability Mechanisms – The Board is monitoring the remaining new gTLD applications (including .WEB and .AMAZON) that have pending accountability mechanisms in various stages of completion, as well as processing recommendations made by the BAMC regarding reconsideration requests.

FY20 Operational Priorities

With respect to operational priorities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

4.1 Ensure Effective ICANN Reviews – ICANN is committed, per the Bylaws, to the continuous improvements of both organizational and specific reviews. In particular, it is important to enhance the cadence and effectiveness of reviews, as well as implementing the recommendations stemming from these reviews in a cost-effective manner, especially against a backdrop of flattening funding streams.

4.2 Board Effectiveness – The Board is working at further improvements to (a) its onboarding process for its new Board members, (b) its mentorship program, (c) its skills development for all Board members, and (d) the questionnaire for its own 360-degree performance review.

BLOCK 5 – Community Engagement and External Relationships

The duties of the Board under this responsibility include:

  • Reaching out and being present in the community during the ICANN Public meetings, as well as in-between ICANN Public meetings.
  • Supporting ICANN org in meeting four strategic objectives of:
    1. Serving ICANN's stakeholders effectively so that they participate more actively and meaningfully at ICANN.
    2. Attracting new stakeholders globally to meet the needs of a globalized ICANN.
    3. Developing effective relationships with key actors in the global Internet ecosystem, based on an insightful mapping of the roles they play, the dynamic between them, and the type of rapport ICANN wishes to have with each one of them.
    4. Advocating ICANN's Mission and its multistakeholder model of governance within the Internet Governance ecosystem.

FY20 Activities

With respect to community-driven activities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

ICANN’s Global Community – The Board continues to engage with the ICANN global community, to listen to the views of the community on critical issues and to better understand the context within which decisions are made.

Internet Governance (IG) Ecosystem – The Board wants to ensure that ICANN's participation in the IG ecosystem serves our Mission and reflects the commitments and core values specified in the ICANN Bylaws.

FY20 Operational Priorities

With respect to operational priorities, in FY20 the Board is focusing on:

5.1 Improving interaction with the ICANN Community – The Board will review the results of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team 3 (ATRT3) survey relating to the Board’s service, and the independent study on ICANN legitimacy, with a view to taking appropriate actions to help achieve its objective of becoming a trusted and reliable partner to the community.

5.2 Anti-Harassment – The Board will conduct community-wide surveys on understanding and awareness of relevant anti-harassment policies and standards, in order to support ICANN’s policy, and implement new best practices and training in this area.

Let me close by saying that the Board sincerely hopes that this blog will enable you to have a better understanding of its responsibilities and its FY20 activities and operational priorities. The Board looks forward to engaging with you in Montreal and answering any questions you may have about this blog.

[1] ICANN’s fiscal years start 1 July and end 30 June.



Cherine Chalaby

Former ICANN Board Chair