[discuss] ICANN governance structure

John Curran jcurran at istaff.org
Wed Mar 19 12:53:16 UTC 2014

On Mar 19, 2014, at 2:25 AM, Shatan, Gregory S. <GShatan at ReedSmith.com> wrote:

> ...
> By reducing history to bare bones, it leaves a decided mis-impression.  By saying "the Board approved the actual process for DNS policy development, approved the policy outputs of the development process, led the implementation of the DNS policies" it makes it sound we in the GNSO are all working under tight Board supervision, playing in a sandbox built by Daddy.  That's really very far from the truth.  The GNSO functions in an autonomous, removed and somewhat prickly manner vis a vis the Board.  Sure, policy recommendations need to be approved by the Board, and implementation is led by the staff (not the Board), with the GNSO keeping a sharp on eye on implementation (and especially implementation that starts to smell like policy decision-making in the wild).
> ... But it helps to start from a reasonable understanding of what the GNSO is and isn't in 2014.

Greg - 
  I also believe that we need to start from a reasonable understanding
  of what the GNSO is and isn't.  The reasoning behind my calling it 
  "within ICANN" is based on the following understanding (and I could 
  easily be mistaken, as that happens quite a bit...) -

  1) Its existence and structure is defined in the ICANN bylaws
  2) Its funding and supporting staff comes from ICANN's budget
  3) It does not have the ability to alter its fundamental properties
     or structure within ICANN Board approval
  4) Absent ICANN, it is not clear that it could continue to operate

  None of this (in any way) is meant to judge the output of the GNSO
  in terms of the quality of its developed policy, but it simply to 
  point out that given the above circumstances, most folks would judge 
  the GNSO to be a dependent body of ICANN rather than independent body.

  Just for sake of contrast, let's compare it to the ASO:

  1) ASO existence and structure is defined external to ICANN (ICANN
  has agreed via MOU that the NRO serves in this capacity, and that
  the NRO Number Council serves as the ASO Address Council.)
  2) ASO is funded by the regional Internet registries
  3) ASO is subject to independent change by the regional Internet 
  registries, although its policy development process is a joint
  RIR/ICANN agreed process.
  4) Absent ICANN, the ASO would actually continue just fine (in fact, 
  there was a specific requirement at ICANN's formation that the RIRs
  be able to handle IP address management should ICANN have issues)

  Having the ICANN Board validate proposed global address policy 
  (specifically, that the global address policy developed by the ASO
  followed the agreed upon policy development process) is a reasonable 
  check and balance, just as is having the ICANN do the same with respect 
  to global DNS policy that is produced.  If the RIRs somehow failed to
  consider the policy in the all of the regions, or it did not actually 
  achieve consensus, then in the case of the ASO this is a very objective 
  thing to detect, document, and remand back to the ASO AC.  It is less 
  clear to me how ICANN performs a similar objective oversight is done 
  in the case determining whether the DNS policy development process was
  followed, particularly in light of the variety of other ICANN bodies
  that on occasion provide insight to the Board regarding desirable policy
  _output_ as opposed to concerns regarding the process followed. 

  "Oversight" and "accountability" are fairly vague terms on their own,
  whereas accountability to <insert reference here> that a particular
  policy development process was followed is much clearer.  The NTIA
  IANA contract requires that (for DNS changes) ICANN document that it
  "followed its own policy framework"  i.e. ICANN verifies that _it_ 
  followed the processes that _it_ established for _itself_ to do policy
  development; the only external separation of roles that exists at present 
  in DNS administration is that this documentation is presently provided 
  to NTIA, raising a reasonable question of how a single organization
  can provide meaningful oversight of itself in the absence of any 
  external party.

Disclaimer: My views alone.


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