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Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT)

Under the Bylaws (Section 4.6(b)), the Accountability and Transparency (ATRT) Review is a periodic review of ICANN’s execution of its commitment to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability, and transparency, to ensure that the outcomes of its decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to the Internet community. The ICANN organization (org) has conducted three iterations of the ATRT Review, and is now implementing ATRT3 recommendations approved by the Board in November 2020. For more information on ATRT3 Review work, see here

Click here to learn more about ICANN Reviews.

Implementation of ATRT3 Recommendations

In November 2020, the Board approved the fifteen recommendations issued within the ATRT3 Final Report, subject to prioritization.  Prioritization of Board approved recommendations considered eligible for prioritization was completed in May 2022.

The table below provides information relating to the implementation of Board approved recommendations. Implementation status of recommendations should be understood as follows:

  • Complete: a recommendation's intent which is considered implemented or addressed and for which implementation documentation is available.
  • In progress: a recommendation for which work has started to address deliverables identified during the implementation design. Implementation design is the preparatory phase for implementation during which a cross-functional project team develops guidelines that include deliverables for implementation, costing out resources, risk assessment, as well as an inventory of existing work etc.
  • Not started: Work has not started due to, for instance, a dependency on another recommendation and/or process.

Where available, the priority level assigned by the community (where P1 corresponds to the highest priority and P4 to the lowest) is inserted in the table below. For more information on prioritization, see here.

Rec #

Implementation Status

Priority Level Assigned by the Community






To maximize the input from each Public Comment proceeding, ICANN org shall update the requirements per the following:

- Clearly identify who the intended audience is.

- Provide a clear list of precise key questions in plain language that the public consultation is seeking answers to from its intended audience.

- Where appropriate and feasible, include translations of the summary, key questions, and responses.

- Include results of these questions in the staff report.

See implementation documentation.




With regards to other types of public input ICANN org shall:

- Develop and publish guidelines to assist in determining when a Public Comment process is required vs. alternate mechanisms for gathering input.

- Develop and publish guidelines for how alternative mechanisms for gathering input should operate, including producing final reports.

- Develop a system similar to and integrated with the Public Comment tracking system for all uses alternate mechanisms to gather input.

- Publish the complete "Public Comment Guidelines for the ICANN Organization."

- Resolve the issue of blog posts collecting feedback information when the "Public Comment Guidelines for the ICANN Organization" state that they "will not be used as mechanisms for collecting feedback."

See implementation documentation.




ICANN org shall review the implementation of ATRT2 Recommendations in light of ATRT3's assessment and complete their implementation subject to prioritization (see recommendation on the creation of a prioritization process).

Implementation documentation in progress.




RDS Reviews:

- Given the final results of the EPDP process will certainly have an impact on any future RDS Reviews (and could even remove the need for any further Specific Reviews on this topic) and considering that ATRT3's final report will be published prior to the EPDP delivering its final report, ATRT3 recommends suspending any further RDS Reviews until the next ATRT Review can consider the future of RDS Reviews in light of the final EPDP report recommendations, the results of the Board's consideration of these, as well as any other developments which affect Directory Services.

See implementation documentation.


In progress


CCT Reviews:

- There should be one additional and clearly scoped CCT Review.

- It shall start within the two years after the first introduction of the (possible) next round of new gTLDs to the root.

- It should be limited to a duration of one year.

- Additionally, a framework of data collection must be in place prior to the next round of gTLDs and the availability of all data sets should be confirmed prior to the selection of the review members and must be provided within 30 days of the review being launched.





SSR Reviews:

- Given SSR2 will not be finalized prior to ATRT3 completing its work, ATRT3 recommends that SSR Reviews shall be suspended until the next ATRT Review (or any type of review that include current ATRT duties) which shall decide if these should be terminated, amended, or kept as is.

- This review could be re-activated at any time by the ICANN Board should there be a need for this.

See implementation documentation.


In progress


ATRT Reviews:

ATRT Reviews should continue essentially as they are currently constituted but with the following enhancements:

- Shall start no later than two years after the approval by the Board of the first recommendation of the Holistic Review.

- Shall maintain responsibility to recommend to the Board the termination or amendment of other periodic reviews and the creation of additional periodic reviews (including reassessing reviews terminated by previous ATRTs).

- All pre-identified documentation that is required for the review, such as the previous ATRT's implementation report, shall be available at the first meeting of the review team.

- Terms of reference shall be established at the first meeting.

- Note: The Operating Standards for Specific Reviews shall be amended to allow review teams to obtain professional services, which are not covered by subject matter experts, should they require such services.


R3.5 In progress P1

A new Holistic Review of ICANN shall be set up:

Timing considerations:

- The first one shall start no later than one year after approval by the Board of the first recommendation by ATRT3.

- The next Holistic Review shall start no later than every two-and a-half years after approval by the Board of the first recommendation of the latest ATRT Review[...].

- The launching of any other review activities should be suspended while a Holistic Review is active.

- Should operate based on Operating Standards for Specific Reviews and should be time limited to a maximum of 18 months.


- Review continuous improvement efforts of SO/AC/NC based on good practices.

- Review the effectiveness of the various inter-SO/AC/NC collaboration mechanisms.

- Review the accountability of SO/ACs [...].

- Review SO/AC/NC as a whole to determine if they continue to have a purpose [...], or if any changes in structures and operations are desirable [...].



In progress


Organizational Reviews:

Board and ICANN org shall evolve the content of Organizational Reviews into continuous improvement programs in each SO/AC/NC:

Continuous Improvement Program:

- ICANN org shall work with each SO/AC/NC to establish a continuous improvement program. [...]

These continuous improvement programs will include:

Annual satisfaction survey of members/participants [...]

Regular assessment of continuous improvement programs: [...]

- The Board should publish at least every three years a summary of its continuous improvements over that period. [...]

- This continuous improvement program is not meant to be a cost reduction activity vs current overall costs of Organizational Reviews over a 5-year period. [...]

- Regardless of the processes selected by the specific SO/AC/NC, this shall fit in the financial constraints available for such activities.



In progress


ICANN org in strategic plans and operational plans shall provide a clear and concise rationale in plain language explaining how each goal, outcome, and operating initiative is critical to achieving the results of the one it is supporting (e.g., For each strategic goal there must be a rationale as to how it is critical for its strategic objective).



In progress


ICANN org in its strategic plans and operational plans shall have a clearly articulated, in plain language, specific criteria defining success which shall be S.M.A.R.T (unless appropriately justified) for all goals (strategic or not), outcomes (targeted or not), operating initiatives, etc.



In progress


For the FY2021- 2025 Strategic Plan and FY2021 Operating Plan, ICANN org shall, within six months of approving this recommendation, produce a supplementary document using the criteria defining success in reporting on the progress of any relevant goal, outcome, operating initiative, etc. to create a listing of required rationales and specific criteria defining success (as defined by ATRT3 in this recommendation) for each goal (strategic or not), outcome (targeted or not), operating initiatives, etc. that are found in both of these documents and post it for public consultation prior to finalization. Once finalized ICANN org will append these to the FY2021-2025 Strategic Plan and FY2021 Operating Plan and use the criteria defining success in all reporting on the progress of any relevant goal, outcome, operating initiative, etc.



In progress


ICANN org shall publish an annual status report on all Strategic Plan and Operating Plan goals, outcomes and operating initiatives. This should clearly assess each of the elements presented in the Strategic and Operating Plans (goals, outcomes etc.) clearly indicating what progress was made vs the target in concise and plain language. Prior to being finalized the report will be submitted for Public Comment.



In progress


ICANN org shall publish an overarching report at the conclusion of a strategic plan starting with the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. This should clearly assess each of the elements presented in the strategic plan; its text (objectives, goals, outcomes) clearly indicate if it was attained or not and justify that assessment in concise and plain language. The report shall conclude with a section distilling the results of the assessments and how this could be applied to following strategic plans or their revisions. Prior to being finalized the report will be submitted for Public Comment.





ATRT3 recommends the following guidance for ICANN org in the creation of a community-led entity tasked with operating a prioritization process for recommendations made by review teams, cross-community groups, or any other community related budgetary elements the Board or ICANN org feels appropriate:

ATRT3 recommends that all SO/ACs should have the option of participating in this annual process. [...]The Board shall also take into account the following high-level guidance for the prioritization process:

- Shall operate by consensus [...].

- Is meant to have a continuous dialogue [...].

- Shall consider WS2 recommendations [...].

- Must be conducted in an open, accountable, and transparent fashion [...].

- Shall integrate into the standard Operating and Financial Plan processes.

- Can prioritize multi-year implementations, but these will be subject to annual re-evaluation to ensure they still meet their implementation objectives and the needs of the community.

- Shall consider the following elements when prioritizing recommendations:

- Relevance to ICANN's mission, commitments, core values, and strategic objectives.

- Value and impact of implementation.

- Cost of implementation and budget availability.

- Complexity and time to implement.

- Prerequisites and dependencies with other recommendations.

- Relevant information from Implementation Shepherds (or equivalents).

See implementation documentation.

Quarterly Updates on Specific Reviews

Review Progress and Milestones

The graphic below illustrates phases and status of each review - a  indicates that all activities within a given phase have been completed.  The chart that follows the graphic provides further details of key activities and milestones within each phase – you can view these details by clicking on each of the phases in the graphic.  The table also contains links to relevant documents.

PhaseActivityDescriptionStart DateDocuments
Conduct ReviewCall for VolunteersCall for Volunteers for the Third Review of ICANN Accountability and Transparency31 Jan 2017
Call for Volunteers ExtensionApplication extended for the Third Accountability and Transparency Review Team20 Apr 2017
Appointment of Board DesigneeBoard appoints a member to the ATRT3 Review Team25 Oct 2018
Announcement of Review Team MembersSelection of an 18-member team to conduct the third Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT3) announced.20 Dec 2018
Terms of Reference and Work PlanReview Team submitted Terms of Reference and Work Plan to Board14 Jun 2019
Public Comment on Draft ReportThird Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) Draft Report posted for Public Comment16 Dec 2019
Draft ReportDraft Report for Public Comment (translations of Executive Summary available)16 Dec 2019
Letter from Review Team Leadership to BoardLetter from Review Team Leadership to ICANN Board regarding delay in submission of Final Report3 Apr 2020
Final ReportATRT3 Review Final Report29 May 2020
ATRT3 Final Report Executive SummaryExecutive summary of the ATRT3 Final Report29 May 2020
Board ActionBoard receipt of the Final ReportBoard receipt of the Final Report1 Jun 2020
Public Comment on Final ReportFinal report and recommendations posted for Public Comment16 Jun 2020
Board Action on Final Report and RecommendationsBoard approves five recommendations consisting of fifteen component parts within the Final Report30 Nov 2020

For information on prior ATRT reviews, click here:

Implementation of ATRT2 Recommendations

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."