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Update: Answers to Questions Related to ICANN's Upcoming Subsequent Procedures ODP

1 December 2021

The New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase (ODP) is an integral part of the preparation work necessary for a possible next application round for new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs). Since the Board directed the ICANN organization (org) in September to prepare for the ODP, the team has been hard at work organizing the resources needed and developing the roadmap for the work ahead.

The ODP supports ICANN's strategic goal to plan a properly funded, managed, and risk-evaluated new round of gTLDs. The ODP will consider what is needed to operationalize the recommendations provided in the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Final Report. This goal is an important one for ICANN's work in the coming years, driving how we serve the next billion Internet users, including supporting multiple languages and character sets.

While the concept of an ODP is fairly new, the preparation and work that must be done are not; the ODP simply places this critical assessment ahead of the Board's decision to ensure that the risks, costs, and resource needs are identified when the Board considers whether the recommendations are in the best interests of ICANN and the community.

The discussions during ICANN72 raised some questions and comments about the planned ODP. The question of timing of a future application round is one of the most frequently asked. Timing is one of the key deliverables of the ODP's Operational Design Assessment (ODA), which the Board will review to determine its decision on the Final Report. An entire section of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase Scoping Document relates to questions of timing and the estimated time needed to design, build, and deliver the immediate next round in accordance with the recommendations.

It's important to note the GNSO New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group spent approximately five years working to complete and deliver the Final Report that contains over 200 affirmations, recommendations, and implementation guidance. Due to this complexity, it will have a significant impact on implementation and associated timing. This ODP will provide the Board with an understanding of the global operational impact of accepting the recommendations, including potential obstacles, impacts to policy, processes, and expected costs, along with a timeline. Of importance too is identifying any issues that would be roadblocks to implementation, taking the necessary time to test assumptions, and having the opportunity to engage the community and receive their input.

We have also heard the question of whether the ODP will simply extend the overall timeline without providing added value. We believe the ODP will actually streamline future work. It will have a positive impact on the duration of the implementation process by making the assumptions explicit, answering key questions, and considering how the recommendations on different topics work together in addition to providing a detailed timeline and visibility to the timing of implementation activities. If the Board approves the recommendations, the org and the Implementation Review team would be able to leverage a good amount of work already completed during the ODP. Future rounds would not be possible without the foundational work of an ODP. It's important to note that without an ODP, this work would still be taking place, but without the structure and transparency that the ODP provides.

Another important consideration to note here is that we are not simply organizing only the next round. We are building a foundational structure for all of the work that the org, the community, and the Board will do over the coming years to continue to evolve the namespace along with the necessary procedures and tools. So the work from this ODP is not only for a single round - this is targeting a long-term plan and for multiple rounds.

The ODP assessment of the operational impact of the implementation of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council policy recommendations has been organized by 12 scoping areas:

  • Dependencies and Prerequisites
  • Finance
  • Global Engagement, Linguistic Support, and Localization
  • Global Public Interest Framework
  • Governance
  • ICANN Contractual Compliance
  • Processing and Operations: Application, New Registry Operator, and Other Related Support
  • Resources and Staffing
  • Risks
  • Systems and Tools
  • Timeline
  • Vendors and Third Parties

More questions and details for these scoping area topics are included in the scoping document and each will be highlighted in future blogs and upcoming webinars.

We look forward to future engagement activities with the community and Board as we share milestones and updates. Recently, the GNSO Council appointed Jeffrey Neuman GNSO Council Liaison to the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process ODP. In this role, he will serve as the primary contact between ICANN org's ODP team and the GNSO Council on questions pertaining to the substance or intent of the GNSO Council recommendations. The org has already submitted several clarifying questions to the Council Liaison regarding recommendations related to: applications assessed in rounds, Registry Voluntary Commitments and Public Interest Commitments, applicant reviews, and auctions of last resort. We look forward to further engagement with the Council Liaison and will provide updates in our future communications. The archive of these communications is available here.

The org has begun organizing and allocating the necessary resources to execute the work in preparation to advise the Board that we are ready for the 10-month ODP work to officially begin. When we have completed the internal project organization we will advise the Board and announce more details at that time. You can check this page for updates, to continue to read the blog series, find links for the next webinar, or review past activities and information.


Karen Lentz

Karen Lentz

VP Policy Research & Stakeholder Programs