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Next Steps Toward the Next Round

26 July 2021

Late last year, ICANN organization (org) introduced the concept of an Operational Design Phase (ODP) as a mechanism the ICANN Board can initiate to ensure they have the information needed to determine the potential impact of a set of policy recommendations. The Board is currently considering an ODP for the policy recommendations developed by the community via the GNSO Council's Final Report for the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process.

This ODP is a significant undertaking. Since the Board received the recommendations in March 2021, ICANN org has worked closely with the Board to review, understand, and document a scope that will help inform the Board deliberations. I'd like to share some of our progress with you.

As a starting point, it is essential to ensure that we have a solid understanding of each recommendation in the Final Report. To provide perspective, the Final Report includes 100 approved recommendations, (in addition to affirmations of prior recommendations and implementation guidance), and also discusses some topics where the Working Group did not reach consensus. ICANN org has provided the Board with background to help work through options and implications of some of the tricky issues that the Working Group also faced, along with suggestions for how these could be handled in an ODP.

In parallel, the org has been assessing the resources that will be needed to make the ODP a worthwhile investment, including skill sets, time, systems, and financial considerations to name a few. It is essential for the Board to have a good understanding of how the funds of the New gTLD Program will be used. We have undertaken a pre-planning and resourcing process to lay a foundation for the expected ODP. ICANN org is supporting many other important projects and initiatives, and the ODP will add to, not replace, these existing commitments and operations.

I want to emphasize that providing information to help the Board make a decision has always been an important part of ICANN org's work. If we did not have the ODP mechanism available, we would still be seeking to provide fulsome information and answers to questions from the Board about how we would implement the recommendations and what the impact of the implementation would be, in advance of their decision.

The ODP gives us a structure for those conversations as well as a means to share the work in progress with the community. Our goal is to provide the Board with a comprehensive and realistic Operational Design Assessment (ODA). The resulting ODA will include an analysis of the operational impact in terms of risk, anticipated costs, resource requirements, potential timelines, and other matters related to implementing the Final Report recommendations. The Board will use the ODA, as well as the GNSO Council's Final Report outputs, public comment, and other relevant material to inform its decision. We expect that the work invested by the org during the ODP will pay off in many ways: identifying areas for clarification, providing a baseline design to inform implementation conversations, and surfacing dependencies and conflicts before the implementation is in process.

We continue to work closely with the Board on the resource requirements and ODP scoping. We are nearing completion of these preparations, and we are looking forward to a Board resolution giving us the formal go-ahead to ramp up and launch the ODP.

Once directed by the Board, the org will work expeditiously. We are mindful of the responsibility of building a set of procedures and capacity to serve applicants in the next and future rounds.

I encourage you to learn more about the ODP process and track developments here.


Karen Lentz

Karen Lentz

VP Policy Research & Stakeholder Programs