Second Accountability and Transparency Review

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The Second Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT2) was conducted from October 2012 to June 2014, with implementation continuing throughout 2015.[1] Although the ATRT2 dashboard marks implementation as complete, the Third Accountability and Transparency Review found that a number of the recommendations from ATRT2 had not been fully implemented.[2]


The Affirmation of Commitments, an agreement between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce, establishes ICANN's obligations to perform its duties with specific commitments in mind. All of the commitments bear on public and consumer trust of the organization. ICANN is to perform its functions in a manner that:

  • ensures accountability and transparency of decision-making;
  • preserves the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS;
  • promotes competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice; and
  • enables access to registration data; and
  • periodically review and assess its performance through the lens of each of the above commitments.[3]

ICANN's board enshrined these commitments (and the associated reviews) in its Bylaws in Article 1 (Mission, Commitments, and Core Values)[4] and in Article 4 (Accountability and Review).[5] Article 4.6 deals with "Specific Reviews," each of which are tied to one of the commitments in the Affirmation of Commitments.[6]

The Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the board oversees the conduct of specific reviews.[7] The ATRT is one such specific review.

Review Process and Findings

A call for volunteers for ATRT2 was posted on October 5, 2012.[8] The work was organized into four work streams:

  1. Review of the implementation of recommendations from ATRT1;
  2. Review of the implementation of recommendations from SSR1;
  3. Review of the implementation of recommendations from RDS1; and
  4. Reviewing the extent to which assessments and actions undertaken by ICANN have been successful in ensuring that ICANN is acting transparently, is accountable for its decision-making, and acts in the public interest.[9]

In addition, the review team determined that an outside consultant would be a useful addition to the review process. The consultant would be tasked with a fifth area of investigation: whether the GNSO policy development process was supportive of and answerable to ICANN's multistakeholder model of decision making. A request for proposals was posted July of 2013, and on August 17, 2013, the review team announced that it had selected InterConnect Communications (ICC) to serve as its independent expert.[10]

ICC presented its final report on the GNSO PDP process in November 2013.[11] Meanwhile, the review team relied on the research and findings of the various work streams to create its draft report and recommendations. The draft report was published for public comment on October 21, 2013.[12] The draft recommendations received over thirty comments from organizations and individuals.[13]

Final Report and Implementation

The review team's final report contained twelve recommendations, with some of those recommendations including a number of more specific recommendations within a single overarching theme:

  1. The Board should develop objective measures for determining the quality of ICANN Board members and the success of Board improvement efforts, and analyze those findings over time.
  2. The Board should develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of the Board’s functioning and improvement efforts, and publish the materials used for training to gauge levels of improvement.
  3. The Board should conduct qualitative/quantitative studies to determine how the qualifications of Board candidate pools change over time, and should regularly assess Director's compensation levels against prevailing standards.
  4. The Board should continue supporting cross-community engagement aimed at developing an understanding of the distinction between policy development and policy implementation.
  5. The Board should review redaction standards for Board documents, Document Information Disclosure Policy (DIDP) and any other ICANN documents to create a single published redaction policy. Institute a process to regularly evaluate redacted material to determine if redactions are still required and if not, ensure that redactions are removed.
  6. Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)-related recommendations (multiple recommendations in each):
    1. Increased transparency of GAC-related activities; and
    2. Increase support and resource commitments of government to the GAC.
  7. Improvements to public comment processes.
  8. To support public participation, the Board should review the capacity of the language services department versus the community need for the service using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and make relevant adjustments such as improving translation quality and timeliness and interpretation quality.
  9. Multiple recommendations regarding consideration of decision-making inputs and appeals processes.
  10. The Board should improve the effectiveness of cross-community deliberations (multiple recommendations).
  11. Multiple recommendations regarding the effectiveness of review processes.
  12. In light of the significant growth in the organization, the Board should undertake a special scrutiny of its financial governance structure regarding its overall principles, methods applied and decision-making procedures, to include engaging stakeholders (multiple recommendations).[14]

The Board accepted the report and its findings and instructed ICANN staff to propose implementation plans by resolution on March 27, 2014.[15] On June 26, 2014, the Board adopted a plan for implementation of the recommendations.[16] Implementation program information was published on the ATRT2 Workspace, and also tracked on the website.[17]

On December 31, 2015, the last open recommendation was marked as implemented on the tracking page for ATRT2.[1][18]