First RSSAC Organizational Review

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The First RSSAC Organizational Review was conducted by Westlake Consulting Limited (WCL) from 2008 to 2010.


Article 4.4 of the ICANN Bylaws mandates that organizational reviews should be conducted on a periodic basis to establish that a particular SO or AC is still needed and is operating as effectively as possible.[1] Organizational reviews are conducted by an independent examiner retained by ICANN.[2] The Structural Improvements Committee of the ICANN Board issued a Request For Proposals to conduct an independent review of the RSSAC in July 2008.[3] ICANN selected Westlake Consulting Limited, and in November of 2008, the company started performing face to face interviews with some individuals during the ICANN Meeting in Cairo and during the IETF meeting in Minnesota regarding RSSAC. WCL also conducted telephone interviews and accessed all available written-records regarding the committee. [4]


In March 2009, WCL published its final report on the Independent Review on RSSAC with the following findings:[5]

  • RSSAC only provides reactions to issues instead of regularly giving updates to the ICANN Board regarding the activities and functions of the committee.
  • Communication and agreement about the expectations of the Board towards the committee is insufficient.
  • RSSAC provides minimal strategic advice to the ICANN Board because the committee is dominated by independent root server operators that are focused on operations.
  • The records of the RSSAC meetings are poor and incomplete.
  • The election process of the members of the committee and its chairman is not clear.
  • The Root Server Operators believed that some of the functions of RSSAC identified in the Bylaws of ICANN are their responsibility, and because of that, the committee reported little of its responsibilities.
  • Interaction between RSSAC and the different organizations within ICANN is limited because most of the committee's members do not or seldom participate in ICANN Meetings. RSSAC committee members frequently attend or conduct their meetings in conjunction with the meetings of the IETF.


Based on its final report, WCL recommended the following to improve the operational functions of RSSAC:[5]

  • Re-establish RSSAC as a strategy group which will be jointly supervised by ICANN and Root Server Operators.
  • Amend the Terms of Reference of the ICANN Bylaws and set out a new role for RSSAC to "provide a source of unbiased strategic advice to ICANN, the Root Server Operators, and the Internet community about the best way ahead for the Root Server System."
  • Reconstitute RSSAC's membership with 9 initial members who have strong technical backgrounds. The committee should be composed of 4 Root Server Operators, 1 appointed by IANA; and 4 appointed by the ICANN Board/Nominating Committee.
  • The Chairman of the committee shall be appointed by its members with a two-year term, with a limited three consecutive 2-years terms.
  • Appoint non-voting liaison members, which include an Outward liaison from the RSSAC to the ICANN Board and the SSAC and an Inward liaison to the RSSAC from IETF/IAB.
  • RSSAC should meet in conjunction with ICANN meetings and may be able to hold additional meetings as necessary; meetings shall be open for public participation and hold a closed meeting if necessary; Root Server Operators and members of the ICANN Board should be invited to the meeting even during closed sessions and shall be given the right to speak under the RSSAC Chairman's discretion.

Implementation Phase

In June 2010, the RSSAC Working Group submitted its final report regarding WCL's findings and recommendations and proposing an implementation plan for implementing the recommendations.[6] The report acknowledged that some of the recommendations could not be implemented without action by the Board to amend the ICANN Bylaws to conform to the revised structure of the RSSAC, and to update its mandates accordingly.[6]

In December 2010, RSSAC submitted a report on implementation of recommendations to the Board, indicating that the work it was capable of doing under the current Bylaws was complete.[7] The board accepted the report in early 2011, however board action on the Bylaws was delayed until 2013, when the board approved the recommended alterations to the ICANN Bylaws to fully enable RSSAC to act on the full slate of recommendations.[8]


At its regular meeting in November 2014, the RSSAC formally approved RSSAC001 and RSSAC002, the first two formal advisories produced under its reorganized structure.

RSSAC001 defines the best practice service to be provided by root servers and defines the operational expectations that users might reasonably anticipate of both that service and the root server operators. This document highlights that a diversity of approaches is desirable in the root server system.[9]

RSSAC002 "identifies and recommends an initial set of parameters that would be useful to monitor for establishing a baseline and trends for the root server system. The implementation of these measurements (and future refinements to them) by root server operators will form an early warning system that will assist in detecting and mitigating any effects (or the absence of such effects) associated with the growing size of the root zone."[10]