First ccNSO Organizational Review
The First ccNSO Organizational Review (ccNSO1) was initiated in 2009 and completed in 2011 with implementation of improvements continuing throughout 2013.
Article 4.4 of the ICANN Bylaws requires periodic review of all supporting organizations and advisory committees, as well as the Nominating Committee. The bylaws state three objectives for the review:
- to determine whether that organization, council or committee has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure;
- if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness; and
- whether that organization, council or committee is accountable to its constituencies, stakeholder groups, organizations and other stakeholders.
Organizational reviews are conducted by independent examiners, selected through a competitive bidding process. The independent examiner works in consultation with a working group assembled by the board, who will act as implementation shepherds once the final report of the independent examiner is submitted. The review parameters are set by the ICANN Board, and those parameters as well as other avenues of inquiry are typically included in the request for proposals (RFP) for independent examiners. Reviews can take anywhere from three to five years to complete. The full review process includes seven phases, including the implementation of recommendations from the review. Reviews must be conducted at least every five years, measuring from the date that the final report of the previous review was accepted by the ICANN Board. The Country Code Names Supporting Organization is one of the organizations subject to the review requirements of Article 4.4.
Initiation and RFP Process
The ICANN Board appointed five people to the ccNSO1 review working group in June 2009, with Jean-Jacques Subrenat chairing the group. In August 2009, the board published a request for proposals (RFP), incorporatoing a Terms of Reference (ToR) for the review. The board also maintained and published a list of questions received and answered during the bidding process.
ITEMS International was selected to conduct the review.
ITEMS International Final Report
ITEMS conducted the review along three major lines of inquiry:
- face-to-face and phone interviews with ccTLD managers, members of ICANN staff, and representatives from other SOs & ACs;
- a survey aimed at ccTLD managers; and
- analysis of the ccNSO's activities and observation of its processes and achievements to date.
Interviews were conducted by phone throughout the review process, with face-to-face interviews occurring at ICANN 37 in Nairobi in March 2010. The survey was conducted in the first three months of 2010, allowing ITEMS to validate and pursue additional information regarding survey results during its interviews at ICANN 37. The survey received 97 responses, with the majority coming from ccTLD managers, and a 70/30 split between ccNSO members and non-members.
The analysis of the survey and interviews, along with a review of the ccNSO's activities and remit, caused ITEMS to report the following top-level findings in the executive summary to its final report:
- The ccNSO primary mission of policy development was not being fulfilled, with four factors contributing to the relative lack of policy development processes: disparities in the size and nature of ccTLD registries; a reluctance within the ccTLD community to develop common policies; the complexity of the PDP process; and the narrow scope available to policy development efforts.
- The ccNSO's capacity to build consensus and create common cause among ccTLD organizations was a strong motivator for membership, and an acknowledged strength of the organization.
- The ccNSO was widely considered as a valuable and engaged contributor to the broader community and in cross-community projects.
- The lack of translated documents hampers the ccNSO's global mission.
- There is a "perception gap" between ICANN's actual spending on ccNSO-related resources and the opinions among ccTLD managers of the value of support received.
- The ccNSO did not have formal strategic or policy planning processes.
Based on their findings, ITEMs presented the following recommendations:
- The ccNSO should consider adopting alternative, non-binding, less cumbersome "policy development mechanisms:" a comment process for rapid response to requests from other SOs or the board; and a position paper mechanism for statements of general policy positions shared by the majority of ccNSO members.
- Consider translation of key documents related to the ccNSO and its actions into the official U.N. languages.
- Because translation is cost-intensive, seek to engage volunteer members of the ccNSO to assist with translations, using a multilingual wiki as a "workshop" for translation.
- Increase (and fund) outreach activities to encourage ccNSO membership, particularly aimed at under-represented regions.
- Collaborate with the GAC and ALAC in joint membership growth efforts for all SO and ACs within the ICANN community.
- When policy decisions would impact the activities of registrars and registrants, the ccNSO should have a mechanism for obtaining feedback from those user groups.
- Adopt a "collaborative networking" tool and engage in active community management utilizing that tool.
- ICANN, to facilitate the success of Recommendation 7, should provide funding or staff in support of community management functions.
- Introduce term limits for ccNSO Council members.
- Consider clarifying the respective roles of the ccNSO Council and the Chair of the council in the ccNSO rules and guidelines.
- Create a designated "Financial Liaison" position within the ccNSO Council to engage with ICANN's financial staff and assist in the transparency and accessibility of financial information and explanations of expenditures. This recommendation is aimed in part at alleviating the "perception gap" that ITEMS identified between actual spending and member perceptions.
- The ccNSO should publish an annual policy roadmap to assist in strategic direction and to broadcast its activities to its constituents and the wider ICANN community.
The final report was issued in June 2010, and presented at ICANN 38 in Brussels. At the Brussels meeting, the ccNSO requested an addendum to the report that provided the full content of survey and interview responses. It was determined at the same time that many ccNSO members would be unable to submit their written comments within the deadline. As a result, the working group extended the deadline for public comment on the ITEMS report to September 2010. In addition to the feedback provided during the course of ICANN 38, the report received a total of seven written comments. The comments were often in disagreement with the recommendations of the report, although they sometimes recognized that the issues underlying the recommendations were important. For example, many commenters questioned whether translation into the "official U.N. languages" would improve access for, and representation among, under-served nations or regions.
Working Group Reports
Draft Final Report
In November 2010, the ccNSO1 working group published its draft final report for public comment. The working group noted that no structural alterations to the ccNSO were put forward, and took this as a positive indication that the ccNSO was working well as presently composed. The report sought to synthesize ITEMS' recommendations with the public comments received at ICANN 38 and via written submission, and responded to each of the recommendations with regard to the feasibility and impact of the proposed changes. The point of greatest divergence was with regard to Recommendation 1. The working group emphatically stated that neither proposed alternative could be considered a policy development mechanism, and could not replace an actual policy development process. The working group also noted that the two proposed alternative mechanisms had already been adopted de facto by the ccNSO, and that there appeared to be an evolutionary inertia toward formalizing those mechanisms within the ccNSO rules and guidelines.
Public comment on the draft report was minimal - two comments were received, from Nominet and the ccNSO Council. The comments were largely supportive of the conclusions of the working group related to each of the recommendations in the ITEMS report. Particular emphasis was given to either existing procedures or ongoing efforts to implement processes which were directly or indirectly responsive to the findings of the report.
Following the public comment period, the working group presented its final report to the board on March 4, 2011. The final report was largely the same as the draft. The board accepted the working group's final report on March 18, 2011 and instructed the Structural Improvements Committee (now the OEC)) to present an implementation plan for the recommendations contained in the ITEMS report.
At the regular meeting of the board in June 2011, the SIC presented the implementation plan to the board. The board approved the implementation plan and instructed staff to proceed with implementation. Implementation of improvements proceeded over the course of approximately two years. In September 2013, the final implementation status report was issued, marking all implementation actions as complete.
- ccNSO1 Review Dashboard, last updated September 11, 2013
- ICANN Bylaws - Article 4.4
- ICANN.org - Organizational Reviews
- Resolution of the Board, June 26, 2009
- ccNSO1 Request for Proposals, August 17, 2009 (PDF)
- ICANN.org - ccNSO1 Questions & Answers, August 17, 2009
- ccNSO1 Review - Report of ITEMS International, June 15, 2010 (PDF)
- ICANN.org Archive - Public Comment on ccNSO1 Independent Examiner's Report
- ICANN Listserv Archive - Public Comments on ITEMS ccNSO1 Report
- ICANN Listserv Archive - Staff Report on Public Comment Proceeding, September 30, 2010
- ccNSO1 Review - Draft Final Report of the Working Group, November 15, 2010
- ICANN.org Listserv Archive - Staff Report on Public Comment Period, January 25, 2011
- ICANN.org Listserv Archive - Staff Report on Public Comment Period, January 25, 2011
- ccNSO1 Review - Working Group Final Report, March 4, 2011
- Resolution of the Board, March 18, 2011
- ccNSO1 Review - Implementation Project Plan, June 9, 2011
- Resolution of the Board, June 24, 2011
- ccNSO - Implemeentation Project Plan Final Report, September 11, 2013