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Minutes | Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) Meeting: Meeting Session 2

OEC Attendees: Rinalia Abdul Rahim – Chair, Lito Ibarra, Khaled Koubaa, Markus Kummer and George Sadowsky

Other Board Member Attendees: Becky Burr, Chris Disspain and Mike Silber

Observers: Avri Doria, Leon Sanchez and Matthew Shears

Invited Representatives of At-Large Review Working Party: Alan Greenberg, Cheryl Langdon-Orr and Holly Raiche

Invited Representative of ITEMS International: Tom Mackenzie

Executive and Staff Attendees: Xavier Calvez, Samantha Eisner, Evin Erdogdu, Negar Farzinia, Gisella Gruber, Larisa Gurnick, Jamie Hedlund, Lars Hoffmann, David Olive, Wendy Profit, Laena Rahim, Charla Shambley and Theresa Swinehart


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

The Meeting was called to order at 4:15 p.m. local time in Montevideo, Uruguay.

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

  2. Briefing on the Review of the ICANN At-Large Community Final Report by ITEMS International ("Final Report") – Tom Mackenzie, on behalf of ITEMS International, the independent examiner who conducted the At-Large Review, provided a briefing of the Final Report.

    Tom Mackenzie briefed OEC that ITEMS International conducted approximately 100 interviews and launched an online survey to collect input from the At-Large community in English, French and Spanish. Approximately 240 people responded to the survey. The Draft Report was posted for public comment in February 2017. The Final Report was submitted on 3 May 2017.

    In addition to the one-on-one interviews and the online survey, ITEMS International met with the At-Large Review Working Party, and organized a webinar and a workshop at ICANN58 to help explain the findings and recommendations set out in the Final Report. 

    In summary, the key findings are: while the overall mission and function of the At-Large is widely supported within the community itself and the broader ICANN ecosystem, the At-Large has struggled to effectively engage end-users, and/or to ensure that more end-user voices are brought into the ICANN policy-making processes. Several structural and procedural changes are recommended in the Final Report. ITEMS International proposed 16 recommendations to address key underlying challenges raised throughout the review, and would involve some significant reforms. 

    The issues identified in the Final Report include:

    • Barriers, particularly for individuals, to participate in ALAC;
    • Unchanging leadership/core leadership group;
    • Focus on processes/procedures;
    • Use of social media;
    • Restructuring of face-to-face At-Large member meetings;
    • Outreach;
    • Accountability/transparency/metrics.

    Tom Mackenzie elaborated upon some of the recommendations set out in the Final Report which were rejected by ALAC:

    • Restructure At-Large per ITEMS International's "Empowered Membership Model" ("EMM") and most of the implementation details described in the Final Report.
    • Replace ATLAS meetings held every five years instead with annual regional outreach meetings.
    • Implement a new procedure regarding the role and function of Rapporteurs for outreach and contribute to ICANN's policy work. 
    • Use of random selection for Board seat, Council of Elders and Rapporteur positions as a means of ensuring greater transparency and accountability.

    Upon being briefed by Tom Mackenzie on the Final Report, some observations and feedback from the OEC include:

    • It would be useful for ITEMS International to provide an illustration of how each of the recommendations presented in the Final Report attempts to solve a particular issue.
    • Given that the Final Report states that the At-Large is too process-focused and "internal" focused – ITEMS International to provide some examples and/or suggestions as to how the At-Large should be more "external" focused.
    • The OEC queried as to how ITEMS International arrived at the conclusion of perceiving the ALAC as being in favor of the status quo (given that there were many comments acknowledging and recognizing that certain reforms are needed to the At-Large structure).
    • The OEC questioned whether ITEMS International had carried out any valuation in terms of translating the time dedicated via a large group of volunteers to an amount of money that this would equate to; as well as make a comparison to the cost to ICANN – this would be a logical way to see if there was a return of investment in this equation.

    The Chair thanked Tom Mackenzie for the work and presentation and Tom Mackenzie left the meeting after this discussion.

  3. Briefing on the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan (by Alan Greenberg, a representative of the At-Large Review Working Party ("WP")) - The At-Large Review WP, in cooperation with the ALAC and RALO leadership, have reviewed the Final Report in detail and have developed the Feasibility Study detailing its views on the recommendations and their feasibility.

    Out of the 16 recommendations, the ALAC and the At-Large Review WP:

    • Support 8 Recommendations. Some are supported with qualifications or in principle with modified or alternative implementations;
    • Reject 8 Recommendations, with an alternative recommended to address the issue of one of them.

    The At-Large Review WP found that:

    • Many of the "issues" identified were problems that the ALAC was aware of and were in the process of addressing.
    • In several cases, the "issue" was in fact not a real problem, even if there was a perception in some parts of ICANN that it was, or the solution was not possible in ICANN's context.
    • The recommendations were exceedingly prescriptive and often were not viewed as likely to truly address the problem.
    • In some cases, implementation would likely endanger the areas where At-Large has already proven successful.
    • Overall, there was great disappointment over the lack of real understanding about how the At-Large community operates and the focus on detailed implementations instead of more high-level guidance.

    Alan Greenberg informed the OEC that a reasonable and realistic timeline for the implementation of the steps to achieve the desired outcomes would be two years. Furthermore, he stated that while it would be a challenge to monitor and track the implementation of the recommendations, it would be a task which the At-Large, via a metrics group chaired by Cheryl Langdon-Orr, would carry out to measure its progress against the recommendations.

    The Chair thanked the At-Large Review Working Party representatives for their presentation and they left the meeting.

    The OEC then had a broader conversation about the complexity of organizational reviews and the challenges of dealing with the contrast between findings from an independent examiner and response from the organization under review. Noting that the SSAC and RSSAC Reviews have commenced recently, and that the ccNSO Review will begin in 2018, the Chair reiterated that these reviews will not face the same challenges as the GNSO and the At-Large Reviews, as process improvements have been put in place i.e. dividing the cycle of the review – separating the assessment from the recommendation phase - where emphasis in the assessment phase would be on achieving a clear definition and a shared understanding of the problems for which recommendations would then be developed.

    The OEC agreed that it requires further discussion on this topic, prior to making its recommendation to the Board.

    • Action Item:

      • Based on the Feasibility Study and the Implementation Plan, ICANN organization to develop documentation mapping underlying issues noted by the Independent Examiner to the Feasibility Study, to assist the OEC in the formation of a recommendation of how to address the divide between the Final Report and the Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan and move this Organizational Review toward Board action. This may include reaching out to the At-Large Review Working Party to obtain additional information. The OEC will ultimately provide a recommendation to the Board on the outcomes of the At-Large Review.
  4. Any Other Business

The Chair called the meeting to a close at 6:18 p.m. local time (Montevideo, Uruguay).

Published on 27 October 2017

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