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Minutes | Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) Meeting

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

Other Board Member Attendee: Chris Disspain

Other Invitee: Matthew Shears

Executive and Staff Attendees: Samantha Eisner, Larisa Gurnick, Lars Hoffmann, Rob Hoggarth, Melissa King, 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 11:30 a.m. local time in Johannesburg, South Africa.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed. The Chair apprised the OEC members that the Chair and ICANN organization have created a new agenda format that will reflect, in a holistic manner, the OEC's ongoing scope of topics and the existing gaps, to assist the OEC to keep track of ongoing activities.

  2. Approval of Reports

    1. Preliminary Reports: The Chair noted that the Preliminary Report from the OEC meeting of 25 April 2017 was approved by the OEC via email on 15 May 2017. The OEC approved the minutes of its 5 May 2017 meeting after confirmation that the OEC members' questions on the same had been addressed.

    2. Open Action Items – An updated list of Open Action Items was presented to the OEC. The Open Action Items have been tabulated in a revised format to enable the OEC to track ICANN's progress towards completing the action items identified in previous meetings. With no questions raised by other OEC members on items on the list, the Chair proceeded to the next agenda item.

    3. Semi-annual Activity Report: The OEC was provided with an overview of the Semi-annual Activity Report that is proposed for presentation to the Board Governance Committee. The OEC members did not have any comment on the Report and approved the Semi-annual Activity Report.

  3. Ongoing Review Update: Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) Review – ICANN organization provided a brief update on the status of the ccNSO Review.

    After considering the option of deferring the ccNSO Review, the leadership of the ccNSO decided to seek deferral of its forthcoming review by twelve months (i.e. until August 2018). Public Comment to gather community feedback on possible deferral of the ccNSO Review opened on 6 April 2017 and closed on 19 May 2017. Four submissions were received – two supporting the deferral, one neutral and one opposing.

    In deferring the ccNSO Review, the OEC noted that deferral would result in the ccNSO Review extending beyond the 5-year cycle anticipated for Organizational Reviews, and also potentially causing a time pressure in relation to the start of the next ccNSO Review. The ccNSO indicated that prior to the start of the ccNSO Review in August 2018, it will undertake a self-review regarding the implementation status of the outcome of the previous review. Such an exercise would be an effective way to set the context and prepare for the upcoming Review.

    The OEC discussed a concern that if the ccNSO Review is not initiated until August 2018, this may impact the ability of the OEC to conduct an impact assessment of Organizational Reviews when the five-year cycle of Organizational Reviews ends in 2020. The OEC then agreed that a staggered impact assessment is possible even if all the Organizational Reviews are not completed in 2020. There will be sufficient recommendations and/or findings obtained from other Organizational Reviews to proceed with the impact assessment exercise prior to the completion of the ccNSO Review.

    When considering the feasibility of deferring other Organizational Reviews, the OEC discussed whether it would make sense for the Board to consider a "one-time deferral only" for any organization that seeks a deferral.

    The OEC agreed to recommend to the Board a deferral of the ccNSO Review until August 2018 and that future deferrals be limited to one per cycle.

    • Action Item:

      • ICANN organization to forward recommendation on deferral of the ccNSO Review to the Board for consideration.

  4. Ongoing Review Update: Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) Review – After considering the option of deferring the SSAC Review, the leadership of the SSAC decided to proceed with the SSAC Review as scheduled. The SSAC Review was initiated by the Board in May 2017, and the review activities are scheduled to take place from 1 October 2017 through 30 June 2018. The SSAC Review Work Party (RWP) has been assembled.

    ICANN organization sought the OEC's confirmation on the scope of work and the selection criteria to be applied when selecting the Independent Examiner for the SSAC Review. The OEC had previously discussed the importance of reviewers possessing sound technical knowledge, to be able to understand the context in which the SSAC operates. In the event that all bidders do not fulfill the "gating elements" that have been identified in the scoring and evaluation of the applicants, the RFP process would be relaunched. Further, given that the SSAC Review is an Organizational Review, the OEC stressed that technical competency should not be the only factor, as the SSAC Review also requires consultants with experience with organizational procedures and processes.

  5. Organizational Reviews: Timeline, Milestone Update, Lessons Learned – Pursuant to a request from the OEC, at each OEC meeting, ICANN organization provides key updates on all active reviews to highlight key facts, upcoming milestones, deliverables, risks, concerns, and mitigation, if applicable, for each review.

    At its 5 May 2017 meeting, the OEC requested ICANN organization to conduct an in-depth analysis of the review process for the various reviews conducted to extract the lessons learned, in order to assist ICANN organization in improving the procurement process for Independent Examiners. While this exercise is still on-going, ICANN organization provided an interim update on lessons learned from the procurement processes and related activities.

    Some highlights of the lessons learned from Organizational Reviews that were discussed by the OEC include:

    • The importance of agreeing on the scope of the review between the organization under review and the OEC;

    • The difficulty faced by the community in separating problems identified from solutions proposed i.e., once a solution to a problem is proposed, the community's focus is drawn to the suitability of the solution; and there is a risk that the community's concern about a recommended solution supersedes the need to address an underlying problem;

    • An Independent Examiner's inability to garner trust and strike the appropriate tone would lead to a problematic Review;

    • Ensuring explicit agreement by the Review Working Party on the scope of work builds trust; and

    • Importance of setting the appropriate expectations with community groups and Review Working Parties in the selection process of Independent Examiners.

    In an effort to further improve the processes for Reviews (including Specific Reviews), the OEC provided some recommendations, for ICANN organization's consideration:

    • With regards to scope validation for Specific Reviews, ICANN organization to include a series of checkpoints along the Review process to engage the community to agree on the scope from the beginning of the process;

    • In relation to the selection of Review Teams in Specific Reviews, ICANN organization to include a mechanism to address the issue of conflict of interest in relation to Review Team members; and

    • For Organizational Reviews, if an Independent Examiner's report contains problematic recommendations to issues identified in the report, the next viable step is to evaluate alternative solutions formulated by the Review Working Party, as opposed to seeking a second opinion from another independent examiner on the problematic recommendations/solutions identified in the report.

      • Action Items:

        • ICANN organization to consolidate feedback received from the OEC on this topic and to continually present this agenda item at future OEC meetings, as necessary.

        • ICANN organization to draft a proposal and make the necessary preparations for an open dialogue between the OEC and the SO/AC Chairs to share the lessons learned from Specific Reviews and to address the challenges of Specific Reviews.

        • While the Ombudsman assessment does not fall within the OEC's remit, ICANN organization to brief the OEC on the key lessons learned and observations from the Ombudsman review work at a future OEC meeting, for the OEC's information.

        • For purposes of improving the processes for Reviews, ICANN organization to incorporate an additional step at the end of each Review, i.e. ICANN organization to assess whether the selected Independent Examiner met the specific qualifications and expectations of the Review.

  6. Specific Reviews: Timeline and Milestone Update – ICANN organization provided a brief update on timeline and milestones in terms of the progress of ongoing Specific Reviews.

    • SSR2 Review: The Board, via the Board Caucus Group for SSR2, has provided its comments to the SSR2 Review Team in relation to the Terms of Reference. The SSR2 Review Team is meeting during ICANN59 and the OEC will remain apprised of developments.

    • RDS/WHOIS2 Review Team Selection Process: The RDS/WHOIS2 Review Team has recently been selected by the SO/AC Chairs and will convene for an informal meeting during ICANN59. ICANN organization presented a brief overview of the RDS/WHOIS2 Review Team selection process:

      1. Call for Volunteers was issued by ICANN organization and was extended twice;

      2. After the close, ICANN organization scored each candidate based on experience with RDS-related work and forwarded those assessments to the SO/ACs. The assessment of experience with RDS-related work included things such as serving on the Expert Working Group; GNSO PDPs; the prior WHOIS review; familiarity with operating of the DNS; WHOIS data collection; etc.

      3. SO/ACs used their own internal procedure to nominate up to 7 candidates; and

      4. SO/AC Chairs, from those nominees, selected a 10-member Review Team, including a fourth member nominated by the GNSO. The SO/AC Chairs also noted that the ccNSO, which was not ready to make nominations because of the lack of scoping of the RDS/WHOIS2 Review, could select up to three members after the scoping is completed.

    The OEC also reviewed the expertise scores assigned amongst the selected members and, in comparison to the applicant pool, as well as diversity factors such as geographic diversity. The OEC discussed the value of sharing this information with the community, and it was agreed that sharing it at an aggregate level would be of benefit.

    • Action Item:

      • ICANN organization to circulate aggregate data to the selecting SO/AC Chairs, which demonstrates the pool of applicants compared to the Review Team members for selected for the RDS/WHOIS2 Review.

  7. Operating Standards Update – ICANN organization provided a brief update on the status of the draft Operating Standards being developed for the conduct of Specific Reviews, as required by the Bylaws. ICANN organization sought guidance from the OEC on means of engaging the community for collaboration and input to ensure that the Operating Standards adhere to the Bylaws and address emerging issues, particularly focusing on issues such as the selection process for Review Teams, decision-making procedures, role of observer, etc.

    At ICANN59, ICANN organization is planning to present an update on the Operating Standards as part of the "Review of the ICANN Process Documentation Initiative" Session. During this interactive session, ICANN organization will provide an illustration of "options" on important Specific Review issues e.g. selection process for Review Teams, setting the scope of the Review, and decision-making processes. Following ICANN59, ICANN organization will update the Operating Standards. It is anticipated that the document will be open for Public Comment in August or early September 2017.

    Some of the key issues discussed by the OEC:

    1. Selection Process: While the Bylaws assign the selection of Review Teams to SO/AC Chairs, they do not specify a process. Is there a role for the SO/AC Chairs to contemplate the overall composition/diversity/competence of the final Review Team?

    2. Scope Setting: If there is discretion in the setting of scope for a review, who is responsible for setting that scope and when should it be set?

      • Action Item:

        • Following ICANN59, ICANN organization to update the Operating Standards based on feedback received from the community.

  8. Review Streamlining & Recalibration: Volunteer Fatigue and Implications for Reviews - The ICANN community continues to voice concerns about volunteer workload and bandwidth, including the community resources needed to support the review processes. Prior efforts to address those concerns have not been successful, as no community consensus has been reached on how to address these issues. ICANN organization sought guidance and input from the OEC on potential solutions to facilitate community engagement to achieve potential solutions.

    The discussion highlighted some of the OEC's concerns, including:

    • There is a lack of clarity around various components which require the Community's attention and agreement, e.g. Bylaws requirements; setting and meeting priorities; ICANN strategic and budget planning; review cycles; and more. The OEC agreed that such issues would require the involvement of ICANN CEO and the broader organization and require a broader effort.

    • In relation to Specific Reviews, it is critical for the OEC to obtain input from the SO/AC Chairs' perspectives on the challenges faced during the Specific Reviews process, prior to engaging the community on lessons learned from previous Specific Reviews.

    • ICANN organization informed the OEC that the call for volunteers for the third review of ICANN Accountability and Transparency (ATRT3) closed in early June 2017. Prior to the selection of the ATRT3 Review Team by the SO/AC leadership, it may be beneficial to engage with the community to discuss lessons learned from previous Reviews. The OEC is agreeable with the proposal to have a dialogue with the SO/AC leadership, to share the challenges of the Specific Reviews, and to have an open discussion.

      • Action Items:

        • ICANN organization to follow-up with the OEC to obtain further clarity in terms of articulating the issues and challenges faced in the Specific Reviews process, to prepare for the OEC's discussion with the SO/AC leadership. In connection thereto, ICANN organization to formulate a proposed time-frame for the OEC to initiate and facilitate a dialogue with the SO/AC Chairs i.e. a briefing call and a follow up face-to-face meeting to discuss the challenges of the Specific Reviews process.

        • ICANN organization to consult ICANN CEO to discuss ways to concretely engage with the community to address the multiple issues and gaps identified, e.g. strategic planning processes, review cycles etc. and find ways to move the discussion forward (as part of a broader organizational, not OEC, effort).

  9. Charter Amendments – No new activities to report since the last update.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 15 August 2017

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."