Read ICANN Blogs to stay informed of the latest policymaking activities, regional events, and more.

The Lifecycle of Reviews Project: Evolving the Specific Reviews Process

4 October 2023
By Larisa Gurnick

In September of 2022, the ICANN organization (org) launched the Lifecycle of Reviews Project to investigate the operational challenges currently faced by Specific Reviews and identify procedural improvements to the process. This project will not look at the substance of reviews or their cadence.

Following an analysis of over five years of input on Specific Reviews from across ICANN, ICANN org developed a series of proposed improvements. ICANN org's "Thought Paper: Proposed Improvements to the Specific Reviews Process," is the first step in sharing the proposed improvements with the ICANN community. This paper highlights some of the major challenges that exist within the current process and provides a short list of six improvements that ICANN org believes could address them. The list is intended to focus the conversation on the core issues with the Specific Review process, and does not identify all potential improvements.


Reviews are required by the ICANN Bylaws and are critical to maintaining a healthy multistakeholder model. Specific Reviews are conducted by community-led review teams that assess ICANN's performance and if it is fulfilling its commitments.

Over the course of numerous review cycles, challenges have emerged that impact the ability of Specific Reviews to effectively fulfill their purpose. To address these challenges, ICANN org chartered the Lifecycle of Reviews Project to identify, develop, and implement impactful improvements to the review process. To ensure that there is alignment across the ICANN ecosystem, ICANN org will facilitate a discussion with the community and Board to further develop improvements. This project is a continuation of work started by the ICANN Board via the Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC); the work was paused while ATRT3 was active.

Next Steps

ICANN org will be offering briefings to the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees as well as a webinar to discuss the Thought Paper and the Lifecycle of Reviews Project. The purpose of these engagements will be to facilitate high-level discussions focused on the existing challenges and proposed improvements to the Specific Reviews process.

The development of improvements to the Specific Reviews process will culminate in a draft revision of the Operating Standards for Specific Reviews, which will be published for Public Comment in the first quarter of 2024. The Operating Standards are Bylaws-mandated guidelines put in place to ensure that Specific Reviews are conducted in a transparent, consistent, efficient, and predictable manner, while supporting the community's work to derive the expected benefit and value from review processes.

The Lifecycle of Reviews Project is led by the Review Support and Accountability (RSA) team under ICANN's Global Domains and Strategy function. The Board oversees the Reviews-related work under the Reviews Program via the OEC. The RSA team will provide an overview of the project's progress during the Reviews Update Prep Week session on 11 October at 16:00 UTC, as well as during ICANN78. We encourage interested groups to contact rsa-coordinators@icann.org to schedule a briefing for your community group.


Larisa Gurnick

Larisa Gurnick

VP, Reviews Operations & Accountability