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Minutes | Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) Meeting 25 January 2019

OEC Attendees: Avri Doria, Danko Jevtovic, Lito Ibarra, Leon Sanchez and Matthew Shears

Other Board Member Attendees: Maarten Botterman, Cherine Chalaby and Tripti Sinha

Observer: Manal Ismail, ICANN GAC Chair

Executive and Staff Attendees: Franco Carrasco, Samantha Eisner, Negar Farzinnia, Larisa Gurnick, Lars Hoffmann, Aaron Jimenez and Theresa Swinehart

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

The Meeting was called to order at 5:15 p.m. local time in Los Angeles, California.

In the OEC Chair's absence, Avri Doria chaired the meeting.

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

  2. Discussion on Streamlining Reviews

    1. Streamlining Organizational Reviews – Organizational Reviews are central to ICANN's continuous improvement, accountability and transparency, and legitimacy of the multistakeholder model. ICANN organization provided an overview of the improvements implemented during the second cycle of Organizational Reviews, the areas of concern surrounding Organizational Reviews, and proposed a roadmap for future improvements, for the OEC's discussion and guidance.

      The conclusion of the second round of Organizational Reviews presents an opportune time to explore areas for further improvement, with the aim of streamlining Organizational Reviews prior to the third cycle, due to start in June 2021. Previously, ICANN organization obtained feedback from the community via consultations and public comments for the streamlining of Reviews, which led to the proposal on "Next Step on Reviews" and the summary of public comments, which provides the foundation for the areas of improvement.

      ICANN organization highlighted the improvements achieved during the second cycle of the Organizational Reviews:

      • Introduction of the model of the Review Working Party (RWP) - The RWP serves as a liaison between the organization under review, the Independent Examiner (IE), and the OEC, which facilitates an improved, timely and consistent input throughout the review process from the organizations under review.
      • Separation of findings and recommendations - Five of the seven reviews in the second cycle of the Organizational Reviews instituted the IE's work in two phases, separating the assessment from the recommendation phase. This separation resulted in greater community buy-in to findings and recommendations, and offers a clear opportunity for the organization under review to provide factual clarifications to the findings prior to the issuing of the recommendations. The OEC observed that going forward, it would be useful to establish distinct guidelines and criteria in terms of the information which the ICANN organization communicates to the OEC and the Board. A clear set of guidelines would facilitate the OEC and the Board to assess and interpret public comments received in relation to the findings of the IE and the recommendations in a more structured and balanced approach. To assist ICANN organization in formulating the proposed guidelines, the OEC will share a specific example with the ICANN organization, to illustrate the challenges it faces in terms of analyzing and interpreting public comments.
      • Selection process of independent examiners - Some improvements include: obtaining input from the community on the review scope, involvement of subject matter experts from ICANN organization to assess candidates, and having a more engaged oversight from the OEC in the confirmation process of IE. As a result of such improvements, two new vendors were selected for the second cycle of reviews, and there is a larger pool of highly qualified candidates for the third cycle.

      ICANN organization then shared with the OEC some key areas of concern (incorporating feedback from the community) in relation to Organizational Reviews, including:

      • Scope of Organizational Reviews – with reviews focusing on procedural issues, this may prevent consideration of structure, remit, or other relevant areas of the organizations under review that would ensure the organization's structure evolves in line with ICANN's multistakeholder model.
      • Purpose of Organizational Reviews – ICANN's SO/ACs are vital to ICANN's multistakeholder model, yet they have not undergone any significant structural changes since their inception.
      • Duration of the entire review process, including implementation – IEs typically conclude their work within 12 months; community-led implementation work, following Board action, takes an additional 24-36 months. Therefore, there are approximately 24 months (or less) for the improvements to take place before the next review process is due to start.
      • Limited pool of suitable Independent Examiners – In addition to having a limited number of applicants, the lack of experience and knowledge of ICANN is also a barrier for many applicants.
      • Community fatigue – Seven reviews were conducted in the period of 36 months. It was observed that community response rates to interviews and surveys have declined.

      Some observations and feedback from the OEC in connection with the key areas of concern include:

      • In relation to the discussion on the scope of Organizational Reviews, the OEC commented that it may be worthwhile to consider whether the organizations under review are achieving their goals and mission under the Bylaws. A modification to the structure of an organization under review would be required only if it is not achieving its mission within the global ICANN community within ICANN's multistakeholder model.
      • The OEC acknowledged that selecting the appropriate IE is a material challenge and therefore, the selection process should be enhanced to include a process for scenarios in which none of the applicants meet the selection criteria and there are no other candidates available.
      • The OEC noted that there is a perception that some segments of the community are resistant to changes to their organization; and such perceived resistance may be due to the fact that some IEs may not fully understand the unique nature and nuanced balance of ICANN organizations (SO/ACs).
      • Responding to the OEC's query as to whether the IE's two-phased review (separation of the assessment and recommendation phase) resulted in an extended duration of the review cycle, ICANN organization stated that it does not extend the review cycle. Conversely, the two-phased review promotes efficiency and agreement in the process between the IE and the community.

      Pursuant to an in-depth discussion on the areas of concern in relation to Organizational Reviews, ICANN organization proposed that the OEC takes the lead on moving forward with future improvements to the Organizational Reviews by:

      • Identifying shortcomings of the current process;
      • Initiating discussions with the community;
      • If necessary, bringing together relevant parties; and
      • Proposing a way forward toward a more effective and efficient Organizational Review process aligned with community-supported principles (subject to Board approval).

      To achieve the desired outcome, community involvement is paramount, and overarching principles should guide the streamlining work. ICANN organization will develop proposals for the OEC and the community's consideration and support the streamlining process substantially and logistically. If current timing and Bylaws mandate remain unchanged, then a newly streamlined Organizational Review process needs to be approved by the Board approximately 6-8 months prior to June 2021 to allow for adequate preparation activities. The streamlining process may potentially reveal opportunities that would require changes to the current timing and Bylaws mandate.

      The OEC suggested that, given that the next review cycle will start in June 2021, it may be worthwhile for ICANN organization to prepare a thought paper summarizing the purpose and objectives of the streamlining process, including the option of changing the start date of some of the Organizational Reviews, and possible amendment to the Bylaws.  

      The OEC was also briefed on the estimated timeline for the streamlining work:

      • January 2019 Board Workshop - OEC identifies shortcomings
      • ICANN64 & ICANN65 - Thought Paper and Public Comment
      • ICANN66 - OEC and the community to agree on principles and action plan
      • ICANN67 - Public Comment on action plan
      • ICANN68 & ICANN69 - Develop proposal for streamlined Organizational Reviews
      • ICANN70 - Adoption of new Organizational Review process
    2. Streamlining Specific Reviews - The OEC received an update on the status of the work on streamlining Specific Reviews. Previously, it was recommended for the third review of ICANN's Accountability and Transparency (ATRT3) to consider undertaking a discussion on how to streamline Specific Reviews to make them more effective and impactful. ATRT3 kicked off in January 2019, and ICANN organization proposed that the OEC may consider providing input to the ATRT3, via the Board designated member, Maarten Botterman. In relation to the Operating Standards for Specific Reviews, it is anticipated that the Board will take action on it in April 2019, which is an important step towards streamlining the operational elements of Specific Reviews.

      ICANN organization noted that as part of the streamlining work, and in order to address some of the issues raised in relation to Specific Reviews, it would be useful to ensure that there is no duplication of work, but rather, opportunities to point to different areas of dialogues from within the community that may have parallels or interdependencies.

      Responding to a query from Maarten Botterman on the status of the Operating Standards, ICANN organization emphasized that it would be helpful for current Review Teams to consider and reflect upon the draft Operating Standards, as to whether they are workable or require further improvements.

      ICANN organization reiterated that for Specific Reviews, the Board Caucus Group construct assists the Board to formulate input to review teams and its opinion on their findings and recommendations, from a substantive and/or technical perspective. ICANN organization also provides regular updates to the OEC, as the OEC is responsible for the procedural oversight of Specific Reviews.  

  3. Confirmation of Actions Taken via E-mail:

    • Approval of At-Large Review Detailed Implementation Plan;
    • Approval of GNSO2 Review Implementation Final Report;
    • Approval of OEC Activities Report;
    • Approval of 4 December 2018 Preliminary Report for the OEC; and
    • Approval of 17 December 2018 Preliminary Report for the OEC.
  4. Any Other Business

    • Proposed OEC Charter Modifications – Oversight over IANA Naming Function Review (IFR) – The OEC updated the meeting that the Board Governance Committee (BGC) has approved the OEC charter modifications. The next step is for the Board to take action at ICANN64.
    • Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) Review and Nominating Committee (NomCom) Review – ICANN organization will continue working with the OEC to prepare for the next steps for the OEC to make a recommendation to the Board on the next steps.

Avri Doria called the meeting to a close at 6:13 p.m. local time (Los Angeles, California).

Published on 15 May 2019