Minutes | Board Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) Meeting 23 May 2019

OEC Attendees: Avri Doria – Chair, Danko Jevtovic, Lito Ibarra, León Sanchez, and Matthew Shears

Other Board Member Attendees: Cherine Chalaby, Göran Marby (President & CEO)

OEC Apologies: Khaled Koubaa

Invited Representatives of Analysis Group: Christopher Llop and Greg Rafert

Invited Representatives of SSAC Review Work Party: Greg Aaron, Ben Butler and Lyman Chapin (SSAC Review Work Party Co-Chairs); and Julie Hammer (SSAC Vice-Chair)

Executive and Staff Attendees: Michelle Bright, Franco Carrasco, Samantha Eisner, Negar Farzinnia, Larisa Gurnick, Lars Hoffmann, Vinciane Koenigsfeld, Trang Nguyen, Wendy Profit, Laena Rahim, Benedetta Rossi, Kathy Schnitt, Steve Sheng, and Theresa Swinehart

The following is a summary of discussions, decisions, and actions identified:

The Meeting was called to order at 16:00 UTC.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.

  2. Security and Stability Advisory Committee ("SSAC") Review

    1. Briefing on the SSAC Final Report – Chris Llop and Greg Rafert, on behalf of the Analysis Group, the independent examiner that conducted the SSAC Review, provided a briefing of the Final Report to the OEC. As per the Bylaws, the purpose of the SSAC Review is to determine (i) whether the SSAC has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure; (ii) if so, whether any changes in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness; and (iii) whether the SSAC is accountable to its constituencies, stakeholder groups, organizations and other stakeholders. The SSAC Review also assessed the effectiveness of improvements resulting from the previous SSAC Review, conducted in 2008.

      Mr. Rafert briefed the OEC that the Analysis Group conducted approximately 42 interviews and launched an online survey to collect input from a broader set of people than could be interviewed. Approximately 52 people responded to the survey. The Analysis Group further audited the SSAC meetings at ICANN61, ICANN62, and ICANN63. The Assessment Report was posted for Public Comment on 21 June 2018. The Final Report was submitted on 18 December 2018. In addition to the one-on-one interviews and the online survey, at ICANN63, the Analysis Group participated in a productive session with the community to help explain the findings and draft recommendations set out in the Final Report. 

      During the meeting, Mr. Llop highlighted some of the Analysis Group's recommendations. Among others, the Analysis Group recommended that the SSAC:

      • given its continuous purpose in ICANN, continues as an Advisory Committee;

      • coordinates more closely with the Board and ICANN organization in tracking and reviewing the SSAC advice items;

      • formalizes a procedure to identify emerging threats and set research priorities;

      • improves its communication and relationship with other SO/ACs, for instance, by posting specific additional materials online to increase transparency;

      • develops an annual formalized recruiting plan with goals and messaging for prospective candidates, to improve its recruiting process;

      • should endeavor to recruit individuals with a strong technical background, to improve geographical and gender diversity in the SSAC membership;

      • leadership should be limited to two, three-year terms; and

      • continues to nurture its culture that values self-improvement, including between reviews.

      Some observations and feedback from the OEC and other attendees on this topic include:

      • Cherine Chalaby sought clarification from the Analysis Group in relation to the appropriate size of the SSAC - the Analysis Group's Final Report states that the SSAC is appropriately sized, and yet the Final Report also brought to light that the SSAC is not delivering advice to the Board on a timely basis (e.g. NCAP project). In this regard, the Analysis Group explained that currently, SSAC is an effectively managed volunteer committee. Thus, there is concern that if the SSAC membership grew in size, the overhead required to manage the larger membership would take significantly more time and make the SSAC potentially less productive.

      • The OEC noted that while the Analysis Group raised the issue of the SSAC's timeliness and responsiveness in its findings, simultaneously, some of the recommendations appear to place additional requirements on the SSAC that would further exacerbate the issue of timeliness.

      The Chair thanked the Analysis Group representatives for their presentation.

    2. Briefing on the SSAC Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Initial Implementation Plan ("Feasibility Assessment") – Greg Aaron, Ben Butler, and Lyman Chapin, co-Chairs of the SSAC Review Work Party (RWP), presented an overview of its Feasibility Assessment, which was developed based on the RWP's review of the Final Report. The Feasibility Assessment includes an analysis of recommendations in the Final Report for usability and prioritization, provisional budget implications, anticipated resources and the proposed implementation timeline. The RWP has noted any objections or proposed modifications to recommendations where applicable, along with supporting rationale.

      In general, the SSAC RWP noted the following:

      • The SSAC RWP worked well with the Analysis Group in carrying out the SSAC Review.

      • Over the last two years, the SSAC has been making incremental changes to its work methods and processes, and governance.

      • ICANN has continued to evolve and become more complex over the last several years, which means that the SSAC also has been trying to evolve alongside ICANN and prioritize its work.

      • SSAC volunteers have become more cognizant of participating and providing advice to the community in a timely manner.

      • SSAC is working towards improving the tracking and follow-up advice to the Board.

      In its Feasibility Assessment, the SSAC RWP provided a detailed rationale of all of its concerns and agreements with the thirty (30) issues presented in the Final Report. The SSAC RWP:

      • supports nineteen (19) issues and their corresponding recommendations;

      • supports six (6) issues but not the corresponding recommendations and it provided alternative recommendations instead;

      • supports one (1) issue but not the corresponding recommendation and does not provide an alternative recommendation, providing detailed rationale for this; and

      • does not support four (4) issues and consequently also does not support the corresponding recommendations.

      In cases in which the SSAC RWP proposed alternative recommendations, it adapted the Analysis Group's recommendations to better suit the SSAC's needs. For instance, in relation to Recommendation #7 (Quick look documents), whilst the SSAC is reticent about the concept of "quick looks" because SSAC's value to the community derives in part from the high quality of the SSAC's advice, the SSAC suggests that the Board consider making use of ICANN's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) team in situations where tight timelines are an essential constraint.

      Further, instead of creating an internship position for a graduate student to assist with research projects (Recommendation #12), the SSAC RWP proposed instead to create a fellowship position to attract more seasoned support and also to rely more often on ICANN technical staff.

      In other cases, the SSAC RWP rejected the independent examiner's suggestion to create a more detailed recruitment plan (Recommendations #21, #24, #25), a concept with which the SSAC RWP is 'uncomfortable'. Instead, the SSAC RWP proposes that the "SSAC should develop a formalized process to estimate the non-technical expertise required for anticipated future work and thereby identify any skills gaps in the current membership"; and that the "Membership Committee should take non-technical expertise gaps into consideration when assessing new member applications."

      Following the SSAC RWP co-Chairs' presentation, in relation to Recommendation #7, Göran Marby suggested that there may be other ways that ICANN organization could provide support to the SSAC, specifically with regard to the SSAC's interaction with the wider community, as well as the issue of providing "quick looks" on particular issues to the Board. Göran Marby stated that he will work with ICANN organization to initiate a discussion about providing adequate ICANN organization support to the SSAC, separately and concurrently to the wider SSAC review implementation plan and work.

      The Chair thanks the SSAC RWP co-Chairs for their presentation. The Analysis Group representatives and the SSAC RWP co-Chairs left the meeting at this juncture.

      Further to the presentations from the Analysis Group and the SSAC RWP co-Chairs, the OEC will engage in further discussions on this topic, prior to making its recommendation to the Board.

      • Action Item:

        • ICANN organization to organize a telephonic meeting for the OEC and the SSAC RWP co-Chairs to continue their discussion on this topic.

  3. IANA Naming Function Review (IFR): Further to the OEC's earlier discussions on the IFR at its previous meetings, ICANN organization provided a brief update on the status of the IFR.

    Under Section 18.2 of the Bylaws, the ICANN Board convened the first Periodic IFR in September 2018. In making appointments to the IFR Team, as required under Article 18 of the Bylaws, the ccNSO Council has run into complications in identifying a non-ccNSO ccTLD representative. The IFR Team work has not commenced, as the ccNSO is continuing its efforts to complete the composition. Due to the changing composition of the ccNSO in the years since the IANA Stewardship Transition, the ccNSO is having difficulty locating a non-ccNSO ccTLD representative as required by Section 18.7(b) of the Bylaws.

    On 12 April 2019, the ICANN Board received an email from Katrina Sataki, on behalf of the ccNSO Council, requesting the Board initiate the Fundamental Bylaws Amendment process under Section 25.2 of the Bylaws, in order to remedy the issue that the ccNSO has identified in meeting the composition requirements, and proposed language for such amendment. 

    Cherine Chalaby and Göran Marby concurred that it is timely for the OEC to initiate the Public Comment proceeding, to enable the community to provide feedback on the proposed Bylaws change. The Board will consider the content of the Bylaws change after the Public Comment period closes.

    Pursuant to ICANN organization's update and clarification on this topic, the OEC deliberated and agreed to continue its discussion on the proposed language modification as presented by the ccNSO, prior to making its recommendation to the Board.

    • Action Item:

      • The OEC to forward its recommendation to the Board, for its consideration.

  4. Discussion on Reviews Prioritization and Affordability - ICANN organization provided a brief update on this topic, which was discussed at the recent Board Workshop in Istanbul in May 2019. ICANN organization is working on a 'thought paper' capturing the feedback obtained during the recent Board Workshop as preparation for a meeting between the Board and the leadership of the various Review Teams in early June 2019. The objective of the proposed meeting in June 2019 is to gather more issues from the Review Teams' leaderships to ensure that all thoughts and ideas are incorporated, from their perspective. It is anticipated that a webinar will be held prior to ICANN65 to collect more input from the community to frame the issues collated; and discussions will be held with the leadership of the Review Teams during or after ICANN65.

    The OEC agreed to continue its discussion on this topic, once the 'thought paper' is finalized by ICANN organization.

  5. Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) Proposed Charter Amendment - The OEC continued its discussion on the RrSG proposed charter amendment. The OEC oversees the review of GNSO constituent body charters, which requires the OEC's endorsement and recommendation to the Board.

    As part of its Phase II process responsibilities, ICANN organization conducted a review of the document and provided feedback to the RrSG of potential fiscal or liability concerns. While most issues were addressed, ICANN organization identified that there are some potential fiscal or liability concerns that persist, specifically as they relate to the development of a grouping of registrars that have non-voting status within the RrSG even if they are not exercising a vote in any other part of the GNSO, as set out in Section 2.2.3. These concerns do not apply where an otherwise eligible member elects to vote through a different Stakeholder Group in the GNSO, or is part of a registrar family. These concerns were highlighted to the OEC during Phase III, which requires the new Charter to be shared with the larger community via Public Comment proceeding. The documents which were circulated to the OEC on 27 November 2018 were published for Public Comment from 18 December 2018 to 5 February 2019. 

    During the Public Comment proceeding, four comments were submitted in support of the RrSG Charter amendments, including a comment from the RrSG. The RrSG expressed its views in support of the amended Charter which was approved by the RrSG Membership via a majority vote and discussed during a two-year amendment process.

    The OEC Chair sought clarification as to whether the fiscal and liability concerns raised by ICANN organizations still persist pursuant to the completion of the Public Comment proceeding, specifically in relation to Section 2.2.3 of the Charter. ICANN organization responded that the community did not provide any comment opposing it nor expressed any other concerns during the Public Comment proceeding. The OEC noted that these fiscal and liability concerns will still need to be addressed in due course.

    The OEC will further discuss this topic at an upcoming meeting, prior to making its recommendation to the Board.

    • Action Item:

      • ICANN organization to organize a telephonic meeting for the OEC and the SSAC RWP co-Chairs to continue their discussion on this topic.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 01 August 2019