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The Chairman's Blog: An Update From the May 2016 Board Workshop in Amsterdam

18 May 2016
By Steve Crocker

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Three times a year, between ICANN meetings, the ICANN Board meets in a workshop format. During these intensive workshops, the Board, supported by senior ICANN team members, comes together for in-depth consideration of important and timely ICANN issues. On behalf of the Board, Markus Kummer and George Sadowsky report on our recent meeting, 13-15 May in Amsterdam.

This meeting took place at a critical time for ICANN and the Board. We welcomed our incoming CEO and President Göran Marby to his first workshop, as well as Becky Burr, our Board member-in-waiting who is taking over Bruce Tonkin’s seat at the end of ICANN57 in October. We were delighted to have them both with us.

As you can imagine, we focused on topics related to the IANA Stewardship Transition. We received an update from ICANN management on the status of the transition and all its various parts – including the status of implementation pre-planning for Post Transition IANA (PTI) and the contracts and Service Level Agreements (SLA) with our partners.

We devoted one session to understanding the new Bylaws and the public comments received thus far. We’ve been paying careful attention to this critical area, to ensure that the Board is ready to vote on them after the Public Comment closes.

While we focused on the elements leading up the transition, we also devoted time to understanding the work of the organization post-transition. How does the transition affect what we do and how we do it? How do we bring the core values into ICANN and the organization? How do we communicate and engage differently as a post-transition ICANN? This is part of an ongoing discussion that the Board takes seriously – it’s our responsibility to make sure we, and the organization, are ready for the future.

As part of looking to the future, we asked Göran to share his early observations about the organization, as well as his initial approach, priorities and plans. While we will leave it to Göran to talk about this once he formally takes over later this month, this discussion led us to think about the various roles and responsibilities of the ICANN Board, ICANN management, and the ICANN community in a post-Transition world. We also talked about ways to structure Board-CEO communications, to best serve the organization and the community going forward.

We’ve all been talking about trust lately, and the workshop gave the Board an opportunity to take a hard look at what we can do to build trust between ICANN as an organization and all of its stakeholders. This is also an ongoing discussion, and one that we all have a stake in. During the workshop, we considered concrete steps that the Board could take to increase our transparency and accountability. We agreed to post the transcripts and/or recordings of our deliberative sessions and, as a result of this discussion, passed a resolution asking Göran and his team to develop a plan for the implementation of this new procedure, also making sure that we respect confidentiality, as necessary. We know there is a lot of interest in our meetings and discussions, and we look forward to reviewing Göran’s proposal in Helsinki.

In addition to a detailed review of the Draft FY17 Budget, we discussed the status of KSK Rollover planning and the planning underway to anticipate and mitigate associated risks. We discussed the current efforts to update ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior, and also looked at the Draft Framework of Principles for Cross Community Working Groups.

Our agenda for this Workshop was ambitious, and we didn’t get to everything on the agenda. For example, we had planned to discuss ICANN’s volunteer model, including the volunteer pool, volunteer fatigue, and ways to help our growing community work together more effectively.  We will pick this up at our next opportunity.

We also held a formal Board meeting (you can find the formal details on our Board page) and a range of Committee meetings, from Audit, Risk and Finance to Governance and Organizational Effectiveness. The Board meeting included a lengthy discussion about the location of ICANN57 and the challenges we all saw in staying and in relocating. Akram sums up our collective feelings well in his blog. We are all very sorry not to be going to Puerto Rico this October, but are very much look forward to getting back there soon. 


Steve Crocker

Former ICANN Board Chair