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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

Executive and Staff Attendees: Susanna Bennett, Samantha Eisner, Larisa Gurnick, Lars Hoffmann, Melissa King, Vinciane Koenigsfeld, Göran Marby, Wendy Profit, Laena Rahim, Lisa Saulino, Charla Shambley, Theresa Swinehart


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

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

  2. Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) Review Update: Selection of Independent Examiner – The OEC was provided with a comprehensive update on the RSSAC Review.

    The OEC previously initiated a broader conversation about the methodology that ICANN organization uses for its assessment of independent reviewers for Organizational Reviews, with the aim of providing some guidance to ICANN organization on ways to improve the current selection process, including the scoring methodology and independence/objectivity considerations. Based on guidance and feedback provided by the OEC to ICANN organization on ways to improve the current selection process, the initial percentage weights have been changed for final evaluation.

    Also, for purposes of the RSSAC Review, certain "gating factors" have been identified to set clear expectations of minimum requirements for a bidder to proceed to the next stage in the evaluation, namely:

    • Technical knowledge – technical knowledge in the DNS or Internet server operations, or experience working with RSSAC or Root Server Operators, such as specific understanding of the root server ecosystem and/or DNS protocol knowledge;
    • ICANN knowledge – experience working with ICANN, or familiarity with ICANN, including experience as a general participant in the ICANN community;
    • Conflicts of interest – no real or perceived barriers to independence or conflicts of interest; and
    • Prior work – quality of prior work for ICANN (if applicable).

    The RFP for an independent examiner was launched in June 2017. The RSSAC Review is scheduled to take place from September 2017 through June 2018. The RSSAC Review Working Party (RWP) has been assembled. 

    ICANN organization completed its evaluation in August 2017 and requested the OEC to confirm the selection of the finalist to serve as the independent examiner for the RSSAC Review. ICANN organization presented an overview of the proposals received, as well as the key selection criteria employed for the scorecard. The selection of an independent examiner followed ICANN's rigorous procurement process, which includes independent evaluation of submissions, presentations by the highest scoring proposals, follow-up interviews, and reference checks. 

    An important component added to the evaluation process is the active involvement of subject matter experts from within ICANN organization i.e. providing their views on the candidates' technical expertise and the candidates' potential for effective cooperation with (and acceptance by) the RSSAC Review Working Party (RWP). Based on this positive and valuable experience, the inclusion of subject matter experts from within ICANN organization will be incorporated as part of future selection of independent examiners (as appropriate).

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

    • The OEC reiterated that it has an obligation to ensure that independent examiners are well-suited for the designated purpose. Going forward, ICANN organization to assess whether the "gating factors" are raising the barrier to entry to a larger pool of independent reviewers. Other concerns to consider include the specific skill sets and capacity of independent reviewers for a given Review.
    • Potential improvements to the process for future selection of independent examiners based on the experience for the selection of the independent examiner for the RSSAC Review.

    Pursuant to an in-depth discussion on this topic, and upon reviewing the evaluation process, the Chair affirmed that ICANN organization has adhered to the prescribed process and selection criteria.

    The OEC approved the selection of the independent examiner.

    • Action Items:

      • ICANN organization to proceed with the contracting process with the selected independent examiner and thereafter make the necessary announcement.
      • The OEC requested ICANN organization to include as an agenda item at its future meeting, a discussion on potential ways to streamline and improve reviews process in a more holistic manner.
  3. Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) Review Update – ICANN organization provided a brief update on the status of the SSAC Review. The RFP for an independent examiner was launched in July 2017. The Review is scheduled to take place from October 2017 through June 2018.

    Based on the SSAC's self-review regarding the implementation status of the outcome of its previous review in 2010, it was revealed that Recommendation 10 ("ICANN Board to study the issue of paying a stipend or honorarium to SSAC Leadership and members") has not been implemented.

    The OEC's concerns are two-pronged:

    • Non-implementation of Recommendation 10 from the previous SSAC Review.
    • The possibility that there are other gaps in implementation from other Organizational Reviews from the past review cycle.

    Given that the OEC is responsible for the review and oversight of all Reviews, it is imperative that the OEC take a systemic approach in addressing implementation gaps arising from the recommendations of previous reviews. The OEC will provide recommendations to the Board on ways to address the gaps once ICANN organization has completed an analysis of implementation gaps from the past review cycle.

    • Action Items:

      • ICANN organization to conduct a retrospective analysis of recommendations from Organizational Reviews conducted in the previous cycle to identify gaps in implementation, specifically the recommendations that were directed at the Board and/or ICANN organization for action. 
      • Once the retrospective analysis is completed, the OEC to consider making a recommendation to the Board on how to address Recommendation 10 from the SSAC Review as well as all other discovered gaps in implementation from the previous review cycle.
      • ICANN organization will utilize the tracking mechanism that has already been put in place for implementation of recommendations from the current round of reviews, to serve as the mitigation measure on a go forward basis (starting with the second review of the GNSO).
      • At its future meeting, the OEC to discuss and review the current role/scope of work of the OEC vis-à-vis ICANN organization, taking into consideration the challenges and capacity issues faced by the OEC.
  4. Any Other Business

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 27 October 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."