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Operating Standards: Guiding ICANN’s Specific Reviews

On 23 June 2019, the ICANN Board adopted the Operating Standards for Specific Reviews [PDF, 647 KB] at ICANN65 in Marrakech. This is a significant contribution to improving review effectiveness at ICANN.

The Operating Standards are mandated by ICANN's Bylaws and guide how current and future ICANN Specific Reviews are conducted. Adhering to these Operating Standards will further help the Specific Review teams to conduct their work in a transparent, consistent, and efficient manner, thus helping to achieve the intended benefit and value from Specific Review processes.


Specific Reviews are led by community review teams. They are tasked with assessing ICANN's performance in key areas to generate cost-efficient recommendations based on their findings. The Operating Standards address in a review, among other things, scope setting, roles and responsibilities, team working methods, outputs, dispute resolution, and a mechanism for the community to initiate updates to the document.

The development of the Operating Standards has been a truly collaborative effort between the ICANN organization ("ICANN org"), the ICANN Board, and the ICANN community, beginning with a brainstorming exercise in November 2016 at ICANN57. Since then, members of the community have contributed to the drafting process and the content of the Operating Standards by providing their feedback through two public comment opportunities, four public sessions at ICANN meetings, and five webinars. Thank you all for your time and thoughtful contributions.

Next Steps

Other efforts towards improving review effectiveness are continuing. The ICANN org and Board is engaged in discussions with the community on where improvements can be made to prioritizing, budgeting and implementing Specific Review recommendations.

Similarly, the community has indicated that Organizational Reviews would benefit from streamlining. The Board has agreed with this assessment now that the second round of Organizational Reviews is nearly complete. In response, the ICANN org has drafted a process proposal for streamlining Organizational Reviews, which is available for public comment until 15 July 2019. Once the streamlining criteria for Organizational Reviews is agreed upon, the Board will work with the ICANN community, assisted by ICANN org, to improve Organizational Reviews.

I encourage you to continue to contribute your valuable knowledge and expertise to these important efforts.


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