Public Comment

Public Comment is a vital part of our multistakeholder model. It provides a mechanism for stakeholders to have their opinions and recommendations formally and publicly documented. It is an opportunity for the ICANN community to effect change and improve policies and operations.

closed Pilot Holistic Review Revised Draft Terms of Reference

RequestersICANN Board


ICANN org received seven submissions addressing the Pilot Holistic Review (PHR) Revised Draft Terms of Reference (ToR). The Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board will review the input received and will in turn inform the ICANN Board on the conclusions of this Public Comment and will lead the discussions on next steps for the Pilot Holistic Review (PHR).

What We Received Input On

The ICANN Board is seeking the community's input on the proposed Pilot Holistic Review Revised Draft Terms of Reference. This is an update to the first version posted for Public Comment in August 2022 and has been modified to reflect community input.

The primary focus of the Pilot Holistic Review Draft Terms of Reference (ToR) is to address the four primary issues raised during the first Public Comment proceeding:

  • The scope of Holistic Review is unclear
  • There is a lack of independent examination in the Holistic Review
  • There is a lack of identified dependencies
  • The community might not have the ability to support the Pilot Holistic Review work

The ToR Development Team also shortened and revised the ToR document to include more direct language and clearer deliverables.

Considering the potential implications on the ICANN structures and work, the Board is seeking input on whether the revised Draft ToR seems fit for purpose, and whether it sufficiently addresses the issues identified in the first Public Comment proceeding.

The following questions are designed to aid responders in formulating their views:

  1. Do you support the Pilot Holistic Review Revised Terms of Reference as drafted?
  2. Does the Pilot Holistic Review Revised Terms of Reference sufficiently address the four primary issues identified in the first Public Comment proceeding?
  3. Does the Pilot Holistic Review Revised Terms of Reference sufficiently clarify the deliverables for the Pilot Holistic Review?
  4. Do you support the next steps for the Pilot Holistic Review (as noted below)?

Proposals For Your Input
Pilot Holistic Review Revised Draft Terms of Reference
ToR Development Team revised ToR Cover Note



The Third Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT3) examined if ICANN Reviews function effectively, issuing several recommendations addressing their number, frequency, duration, and nature. As part of its work, ATRT3 recommended the creation of a new Specific Review, the Holistic Review (recommendation 3.5).

On 30 November 2020, the ICANN Board approved recommendation 3.5 issued by the ATRT3, directing ICANN org to initiate the first Holistic Review as a pilot, “subject to prioritization and available resources” and “pursuant to community-agreed Terms of Reference and relevant elements of the Operating Standards for Specific Reviews.”

The Board direction to implement the Holistic Review as a pilot will have implications for various community structures and groups. These implications include, for example: community members’ participation as part of the Pilot Holistic Review Team for a period of 18 months; engagement and input of Supporting Organizations, Advisory Committees, and the Nominating Committee based on the Operating Procedures as stated in the revised Draft Terms of Reference; and potential implications on how the various structures are organized and evaluated in the future.

In March 2022, a Terms of Reference (ToR) Development Team, consisting of ATRT3 Shepherds, former ATRT3 members, and members of the ICANN Board, was assembled to draft the ToR with ICANN organization’s (ICANN org) facilitation. The team worked collaboratively for four months to draft a ToR that addressed the information gaps identified by the ICANN Board and was in-line with the ATRT3’s vision for the Holistic Review.

After receiving input from the community led Planning Prioritization Group in May 2022 that it considered this recommendation to be of highest priority, ICANN org began the process of implementation design and planning the steps needed to secure Executive and ICANN Board approval of funding and resourcing.

The ToR Development Team completed its work in June 2022 and a Public Comment proceeding on Pilot Holistic Review Draft ToR opened on 30 August 2022, running through 10 November 2022. The proceeding sought input on whether the Draft ToR seemed fit for purpose and if it was tailored to the community’s expectations based upon ATRT3 recommendation 3.5. The Board additionally welcomed community input on the Pilot Holistic Review scheduling and timing in light of other community and stakeholder work. The proceeding received 11 group submissions and 2 individual submissions.

An analysis of the public comments revealed diverging community views on the pilot and Holistic Review. The Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) reconvened the ToR Development Team in March 2023 to address the questions and issues raised during the proceeding. The ToR Development Team submitted its revised Draft ToR to the OEC in July 2022 and held an informational webinar on 21 August 2023 to present its revisions to the community. The OEC briefed the full Board on the status in September 2023. The Board agreed that it was appropriate to move the revised Draft ToR to Public Comment to gain further community input on proceeding with a Pilot Holistic Review.

ATRT3 Holistic Review Objectives

In its recommendation for the creation of a Holistic Review, the ATRT3 identified the following objectives for such a review:

  • Review continuous improvement efforts of SO/AC/NomCom based on good practices.
  • Review the effectiveness of the various inter-SO/AC/NomCom collaboration mechanisms.
  • Review the accountability of SO/ACs or constituent parts to their members/constituencies (this will include an in-depth analysis of the survey results).
  • Review SO/AC/NomCom as a whole to determine if they continue to have a purpose within the ICANN structure as they are currently constituted, or if any changes in structures and operations are desirable to improve the overall effectiveness of ICANN as well as ensure optimal representation of community views (but taking into consideration any impacts on the Board or the Empowered Community).

For additional information, you may also refer to the Third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) Report (SECTION 8 ASSESSMENT OF PERIODIC (NOW SPECIFIC) AND ORGANIZATIONAL REVIEWS).

ICANN Board-Identified Information Gaps

In its action on the ATRT3 recommendations, the Board identified that a Pilot Holistic Review would be appropriate, and could reveal information on the following gaps before instantiating a Holistic Review in the ICANN Bylaws:

  • Guidance as to how Holistic Review teams should determine and prioritize its work areas in order to ensure effective review outcomes within the recommended 18-month timeframe.
  • Proposed methodology for gathering and analyzing data to inform fact-based findings and recommendations.
  • Articulation of necessary skill sets for Holistic Review team members required to achieve review objectives, which will later be included in the Operating Standards for Specific Reviews.
  • Estimate of resources and budget required to complete the review effectively.
  • Suggestions as to how various ICANN structures would be held accountable for implementing the recommendations coming from the Holistic Review, if directed to entities other than the ICANN Board or org.
  • Determination of how future Holistic Review teams would measure the success of implementation and the success of a future Continuous Improvement Program.

These gaps were identified by the ICANN Board in its 30 November Board Action approving ATRT3 recommendation 3.5.