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Organizational Reviews

What are the Organizations that are Reviewed?

ICANN follows a multistakeholder model in which individuals, non-commercial stakeholder groups, industry, and governments play important roles in its community-based, consensus-driven, policy-making approach.

While the ICANN Board of Directors has the ultimate authority to approve or reject policy recommendations, Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) provide valuable input and expertise to the policy-making process. Specifically, the SOs are responsible for developing and making policy recommendations to the Board. Similarly, the ACs advise the ICANN Board and, in certain cases, can raise issues for policy development.

Supporting Organizations (SOs)

ICANN has three Supporting Organizations that develop and recommend policies concerning the Internet’s technical management within their areas of expertise. They are the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) and the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).

Advisory Committees (ACs)

ICANN has four Advisory Committees that serve as formal advisory bodies to the ICANN Board. They are made up of representatives from the Internet community to advise on a particular issue or policy area. ICANN Bylaws mandate four committees: At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC), Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), and Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC).

Other Groups

Additionally, there are other relevant groups involved in ICANN’s governance model including:

  • Nominating Committee
  • Technical Liaison Group
  • Board of Directors

What are the Organizational Reviews?

ICANN’s ongoing commitment to its own evolution and improvement has been incorporated into its Bylaws. In particular, the Article IV, Section 4 of the Bylaws require the periodic review of relevant ICANN organizations and committees including each of the Supporting Organizations (SOs), each of the Advisory Committees (ACs), and the Nominating Committee. The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is excluded from this periodic review requirement and instead shall provide its own review mechanisms. Additionally, although not required by ICANN Bylaws or other agreements, in the interest of greater accountability and transparency, ICANN has opted to perform reviews of the Nominating Committee (NomCom), Board of Directors, and the Technical Liaison Group (TLG).

While ICANN’s Board is ultimately responsible for initiating these reviews and for establishing the criteria and standards under which they shall occur, the reviews are performed by an entity independent of the organization or committee under review. The purpose of these reviews is twofold. The reviews are meant to determine (i) whether that organization has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure, and if so (ii) whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness.

The Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board (OEC), previously known as the Structural Improvements Committee (SIC) is responsible for the following (See information about this Committee of the Board and Committee’s Charter):

  1. The review and oversight of all organizational reviews mandated by Article IV, Section 4 of ICANN’s Bylaws or any replacement or revisions to that Section of the Bylaws (Reviews), which are aimed at enhancing ICANN’s overall effectiveness, and achieving specific organizational objectives, structural relevance and effectiveness.
  2. The review and oversight of policies, processes, and procedures relating to the Reviews.
  3. The development and maintenance of a Review Framework, which is subject to Board approval, that encapsulates the policies, processes and procedures applicable to the conduct of the Reviews.  Review Polices, Procedures and Guidelines documentation is being developed as part of the Review Framework to clarify and make the Review process more transparent for the ICANN community.


Review Review Team Formed Final Report Issued Board Action Number of Board Approved Recommendations Implementation Details
23 January 2008 9 June 2009 20 June 2009 13 14 June 2012
ASO June 2011 1 December 2011 17 November 2014 26 17 Nov 2014
ccNSO 26 June 2009 4 March 2011 18 March 2011 12 11 September 2013
30 March 2007 3 February 2008 26 June 2008 20 4 December 2012
  15 September 2015 25 June 2016 34  
NomCom 30 March 2007 29 January 2010 25 June 2010 17 1 March 2012
RSSAC 26 June 2008 8 June 2010 5 August 2010 8 1 December 2010
SSAC 26 June 2008 29 January 2010 12 March 2010 33 18 March 2011
Board 26 June 2008 2 November 2008 12 March 2010 8  
TLG 12 April 2011 3 December 2010 18 March 2011 3  

What are all those dates in the above table?

Review Organizational Reviews are conducted by independent examiners appointed as a result of a competitive bidding process.  At times, a Working Group may be appointed by the Board, consisting of members chosen among present and past Board Directors and Liaison Directors, to follow up on the recommendations provided by the independent examiners
Review Team Formed Board appointed independent examiners/members to conduct the Review.
Final Report Issued Final Report issued by the independent examiner is published for public comment and considered by the Board.
Board Action The Board reviews the Final Report submitted by the independent examiner or Working Group, takes action on the recommendations, and requests that an implementation plan be developed for the approved recommendations.
Number of Board Approved Recommendations Number of recommendations approved by the Board during its review of the Final Report submitted by the independent examiner or Working Group.
Implementation Details Organizations implementing Board-approved recommendations provide progress updates and reports on the status of implementation.  More details are available on the organization's websites or community wiki space.


The current process of conducting Organizational Reviews is outlined here.   Historical information is available here

Timing of Organizational Reviews

The organizational reviews follow a five-year cycle. Thus, each organization is scheduled to be reviewed every five years. On 28 July 2015, the Board adopted the following schedule for the conduct of upcoming Bylaws mandated Organizational Reviews on or about the following dates: the second At-Large Review—April 2016; the second review of the Nominating Committee—February 2017; the second review of the Root Server System Advisory Committee – April 2017; and the second review of Security & Stability Advisory Committee—June 2017. See Board Resolution for further details. 

Review Process

The chart below outlines phases and typical actions and milestones applicable to an Organizational Review.  Actual actions and durations vary for each review, as can be seen from the reviews that have been concluded.  While the phases of future reviews are expected to be consistent with this outline, specific actions, milestones and durations may vary based on the unique aspects of each review.  Additionally, the outcomes of the “Proposed Schedule and Process/Operational Improvements for AoC and Organizational Reviews”, which was posted for Public Comment may impact aspects of future reviews.

Phase Key Actions and Milestones Estimated Duration (months)
Plan Review Develop plan 6 Months
  Form Review Working Party  
  Conduct competitive bidding  
  Appoint independent examiner  
Conduct Review Gather data, conduct research, evaluate implementation of prior review recommendations 12 Months
  Draft initial findings  
  Prepare draft report  
  Public comment on draft report  
  Prepare final report  
  Board action on final report  
Plan Implementation Initiate implementation 6 months
  Plan implementation work  
  Provide periodic updates on implementation planning  
Implement Improvements Conduct implementation work 12 months
  Conduct ongoing reporting, tracking and monitoring effectiveness  
Standard Operating Procedures Develop operating procedures  

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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"""" is not an IDN."