The purpose of this Public Comment posting is to request community feedback on the Draft Report issued by Westlake Governance Limited (Westlake) on the Review of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). As the Independent Examiner, Westlake has drafted their report after conducting extensive work, including but not limited to online surveys (178 responses), 40 one-on-one interviews (considerably more than originally anticipated in the scope of work), review and analysis of documents and direct observations of GNSO proceedings at three ICANN meetings. In addition, Westlake has been engaged in consultations with representatives from the GNSO and other community members.
Westlake will issue their Final Report at the end of August 2015 after considering community feedback via Public Comment process, in-person meetings at ICANN53 and ongoing interaction with the GNSO Review Working Party. The final report, along with public comments, will be considered by the Board. After the Board takes action and accepts the report, the implementation phase will begin.
The Report Summary (Section 1, pages 4-20) offers a brief overview of Westlake’s work and outlines 36 proposed recommendations, classified into four topical themes: Participation and Representation; Continuous Development; Transparency; and Alignment with ICANN’s Future. Please refer to the specific recommendation and relevant section of the Draft Report for additional details and context about each recommendation.
Word [DOCX, 65 KB] and PDF [PDF, 283 KB] templates have been developed to facilitate input to this Public Comment. Additionally, several consultations and briefings will be held during ICANN53 in Buenos Aires.
Section I: Description and Explanation
ICANN's Bylaws require that its structures, including the GNSO, be reviewed on a five-year cycle. According to the Bylaws, the goal of the review is "to determine (i) whether that organization has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure, and (ii) if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness."
This review is part of ICANN's commitment to continuous improvement, accountability and transparency. It uses mechanisms and measures to maintain public confidence in the viability, reliability and accountability of ICANN.
As the Independent Examiner, Westlake has drafted their report after conducting extensive work, including but not limited to: online surveys (178 responses), 40 one-on-one interviews (considerably more than originally anticipated in the scope of work), review and analysis of documents and direct observations of GNSO proceedings at three ICANN meetings.
Section II: Background
ICANN engaged Westlake Governance Limited in June 2014 to conduct an independent review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), as mandated by ICANN's Bylaws. As part of ICANN's ongoing commitment to its evolution and improvement, Article IV – Section 4 of ICANN's Bylaws contains provisions for "periodic review of the performance and operation of each Supporting Organization, each Supporting Organization Council, each Advisory Committee (other than the Governmental Advisory Committee), and the Nominating Committee."
The periodic reviews present ICANN structures with opportunities for continuous improvement through consistent application of compliance review principles to objectively measure performance relative to specific and quantifiable criteria developed by ICANN based on the unique nature of its structures. The resulting implementation of improvements and the systematic means of measuring performance and validating effectiveness of implementation are of utmost importance to the ongoing legitimacy of ICANN.
Generic Names Supporting Organization
The GNSO is the policy-making body responsible for generic Top-Level Domains, such as .COM, .NET, and .ORG. Its members include representatives from generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) registries, gTLD registrars, intellectual property interest, Internet service providers, businesses and non-commercial interests. The GNSO strives to keep gTLDs operating in a fair, orderly fashion across one global Internet, while promoting innovation and competition.
Role of the Structural Improvements Committee of the ICANN Board
The Structural Improvements Committee (SIC) of the ICANN Board is responsible for review and oversight of policies relating to ICANN's ongoing organizational review process, as mandated by ICANN's Bylaws.
In relation to this review, the SIC defined the scope of work, confirmed the appointment of Westlake Governance as Independent Examiner, has provided ongoing oversight, will accept the final report and the implementation plan, and will prepare recommendations for Board action.
Scope of the Review
Based on direction from the Board, the current review comprises of an examination of the GNSO's organizational effectiveness in accordance with the ICANN-provided objective and quantifiable criteria.
Within the organizational effectiveness context, the review has focused on addressing areas such as purpose of the organization; its processes and means of conducting its work; and its outcomes. The operations of the GNSO Working Groups, the GNSO Council and the GNSO Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies have been evaluated. Structural topics are likely to come up as part of this work.
The current review includes an assessment of the effectiveness of structural changes that resulted from the last review, as it relates to the organizational effectiveness of the GNSO. The 360 Assessment, interviews and consultations have provided the community with an opportunity to express their position on the GNSO structure.
Whether structural changes are needed and when such changes should be considered would be topics for discussion after the GNSO review is finalized, possibly during the implementation planning, depending on the nature of findings and recommendations.
GNSO Review Working Party
The SIC requested that a GNSO Review Working Party be assembled to act as a liaison between the GNSO, the independent examiner and the SIC, as one of several Organizational Review process improvements. The GNSO Review Working Party has had ongoing opportunities for substantive input into the GNSO Review process and methodology, as well as providing several rounds of comments to the independent examiner during the development of the Draft Report. Westlake has catalogued and responded to all comments. The Working Party provided input on review criteria and the 360 Assessment, coordinated interviews and objectively supplied clarification and responses to the draft findings and recommendations. Once the final report is issued and the Board takes action on it, the GNSO Review Working Party is expected to coordinate with the GNSO community to prepare an Implementation Plan and champion implementation of improvement activities.
The membership of the GNSO Review Working Party includes members representing the diversity of the GNSO community. The activities of the GNSO Review Working Party are conducted in an open and fully transparent manner.
Section III: Relevant Resources
- Richard Westlake on the GNSO Review
- Word [DOCX, 65 KB] and PDF [PDF, 283 KB] templates have been developed to facilitate input to this Public Comment. Use of a template is encouraged, but not required. This template provides the opportunity for general input on the proposal as well as specific comments by section. Please note that there is no obligation to complete all of the sections – commenters may respond to as many or as few as they wish.
- Draft Report: Review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization [PDF, 2.49 MB]
- Report Summary (Section 1) of Draft Report (pages 4-20)
Section IV: Additional Information
- ICANN Bylaws
- Structural Improvements Committee members and Charter
- Request for Proposal for Review of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)
- Review Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs)
- GNSO Review Community Wiki
- GNSO Review Working Party information
- Summary and Resolution of Working Party Comments on Working Text
- Information about relevant public sessions at ICANN53 (to be added when available)