ICANN Resolutions » Deferral of the third Generic Names Supporting Organizational Review (GNSO3)

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Deferral of the third Generic Names Supporting Organizational Review (GNSO3)


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Mon, 21 Jun 2021
Resolution Number: 
2021.06.21.03 – 2021.06.21.04
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, under ICANN Bylaws Section 4.4 (a), periodic reviews shall be conducted no less frequently than every five years, based on feasibility as determined by the Board.

Whereas, under ICANN's Bylaws Section 4.4 the GNSO3 Review is due to commence in June 2021, five years after the Board's receipt and action on the final report from the GNSO2 Review. This is the first Organizational Review scheduled for the next cycle.

Whereas, the ATRT3 made recommendations that will have an impact on all Organizational Reviews; and the ATRT3 recognized this impact in its transmittal letter to the ICANN Board Chair. The letter suggested the Board implement a moratorium on launching new reviews until the ATRT3 recommendations establish continuous improvement programs and a new Holistic Review could be implemented.

Whereas, the Board approved the ATRT3 recommendations, subject to prioritization, recognizing that the ICANN community and organization will need time to plan for, and execute, those recommendations once prioritized for implementation.

Whereas, the Board engaged with the GNSO in October 2020 to understand its views about the timing of the next GNSO Review. The GNSO Council, the Commercial Stakeholder Group, the Registry Stakeholder Group, and the Registrar Stakeholder Group each supported the deferral of the GNSO3 Review to alleviate the GNSO's heavy workload, and to allow for the ATRT3's recommended Holistic Review and continuous improvement pilots and program to be developed in line with the Board's November 2020 action on the ATRT3 recommendations.

Whereas, on 18 May 2021, the Board Organizational Effectiveness Committee discussed and approved a recommendation to the Board to defer the GNSO3 Review, with the support of the GNSO.

Resolved (2021.06.21.03), the Board determines that it is not feasible to initiate the GNSO3 Review at this time. The Board is deferring the initiation of the GNSO3 Review until such time as the Board, community and org better understand the impact of the ATRT3 Recommendations on the next Organizational Review cycle, as well as in consideration of the current community workload.

Resolved (2021.06.21.04), the Board directs the ICANN President and CEO, or his designee, to develop a comprehensive plan for the timing and conduct of the next Organizational Review cycle, taking into consideration the timing of the implementation of the ATRT3 recommendations. This plan should be developed in consultation with the ICANN community, and ICANN org shall provide periodic updates to the Board on progress towards such plan.

Rationale for Resolution: 

Why is the Board addressing the issue?

ICANN organizes independent reviews of its SO/ACs (Organizational Reviews) as prescribed in Article 4 Section 4.4 of the ICANN Bylaws, to ensure ICANN's multistakeholder model remains transparent and accountable, and to improve its performance. The Organizational Reviews currently run in five-year cycles. The GNSO3 Review is the first of the next cycle, and is due to initiate in June 2021. Under the Bylaws, the Board has the ability to defer Organizational Reviews beyond the five-year cycle if conducting a review in that cycle is not feasible.

For the GNSO3 Review and all upcoming Organizational Reviews in this next cycle, there is a dependency on, and an expected impact from, the implementation of ICANN Board-approved ATRT3 recommendations. Specifically, ATRT3 Recommendation 3 calls for evolving the current Organizational Reviews into continuous improvement programs for SO/ACs, and introduces a new Holistic Review to consider the effectiveness of the continuous improvement programs, accountability of SO/ACs, and their continuing purpose and structure.

In addition, there is a continued pressure on community volunteer time. Currently, various cross-community work efforts are underway, all of which consume considerable volunteer time from the GNSO community. Deferring the GNSO3 Review will enable the GNSO, along with the broader ICANN community, to understand the potential impact of the recommendations from the ATRT3 as their implementation planning becomes clearer.

This Board action is a result of the Board's consideration of various factors including: consultation on GNSO3 Review timing, current community workload, as well as the upcoming implementation of ATRT3 recommendations. Based upon those considerations, the Board has concluded that it is not feasible to proceed with the GNSO3 Review as scheduled. This action also directs ICANN org to develop a plan of how to address the upcoming Organizational Review cycle prior to implementing the ATRT3 recommendations, including community consultation, and would set a time limit for bringing the issue back to the Board.

What is the proposal being considered?

The proposal under consideration is to defer the GNSO3 Review based upon the determination that the review is not feasible at this time. The Board is being asked to defer the initiation of GNSO3 Review until the Board, community, and organization better understand the implications of ATRT3 recommendations and in consideration of the current GNSO workload. To further collective understanding of the implications of ATRT3 recommendations, the Board is asked to direct ICANN org, in consultation with the community, to develop a comprehensive plan for the timing and conduct of the next Organizational Review cycle. ICANN org shall provide an update to the Board on progress towards such plan.

Which stakeholders or others were consulted?

In a transmittal letter to the Board on 01 June 2020, the ATRT3 "strongly suggests that the ICANN Board implement a moratorium on launching any new Organizational and Specific Reviews until it has made a decision on this recommendation."

In a letter on 12 October 2020, the Chair of the ICANN Board reached out to GNSO Council and GNSO Stakeholder Groups and Constituency Leaders to understand the GNSO community's views about the timing of the GNSO3 Review. The Commercial Stakeholder Group, the Registry Stakeholder Group, the GNSO Council, and the Registrar Stakeholder Group responded to the letter.

What concerns, or issues were raised by the community?

The Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) reported its view that the GNSO3 Review depends entirely on the scoping of the Holistic Review recommended by ATRT3, and offered to contribute to the Holistic Review scoping process. The CSG also acknowledged the large volume of work currently underway and waiting to be initiated within the GNSO as a reason to support the deferral.

The Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) supported the suggested GNSO3 Review deferral and ATRT3's suggestion that the Board implement a moratorium on launching any new Organizational or Specific Reviews until it has reached a decision on the ATRT3's recommendation on Reviews. In addition, the RySG indicated that it would not make sense to initiate the GNSO3 Review until it is clear how ATRT3 recommendations will be implemented.

The GNSO Council supported the suggested deferral of the GNSO3 Review, mindful of the potential impact of the recommendations from ATRT3, and the full slate of policy development work underway.

The Registrar Stakeholder Group agreed with postponing the GNSO3 Review to allow for the Holistic Review, to permit resources to be directed at other pressing priorities, and to take into consideration the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What factors did the Board find to be significant?

The Board considered its prerogative to defer Organizational Reviews based on feasibility. The Board also considered the dependency on prioritization and implementation of the ATRT3 recommendations which will impact the Organizational Reviews cycle. Considering the GNSO3 Review is the first review of the next Organizational Review cycle, this deferral provides an opportunity for ICANN org, in consultation with the community, to develop a comprehensive plan for the timing and conduct of the next Organizational Review cycle, considering the timing of the implementation of the ATRT3 recommendations. ICANN org shall provide an update to the Board on progress towards such plan.

Additionally, the Board considered the precedents set by the deferrals of the GNSO2 Review in 2013, and the ccNSO2 Review in 2017.

Are there positive or negative community impacts?

This Board action is expected to have a positive impact on the community by reducing the pressure on GNSO volunteer time, considering the high volume of on-going GNSO work efforts. In addition, the deferral will allow for the development of a comprehensive plan to address the next cycle of Organizational Reviews, considering the implications of ATRT3 recommendations. This will have a positive impact on the overall community work through planning.

Are there fiscal impacts or ramifications on ICANN (strategic plan, operating plan, budget); the community; and/or the public?

The fiscal impacts on ICANN are positive in the sense that the budget set aside for this review will be used when deemed appropriate to result in an effective outcome to benefit the GNSO, and the ICANN community in line with the intentions of the ATRT3. Conducting more comprehensive planning for the timing and conduct of the next Organizational Review cycle will have a positive impact on the overall planning and resourcing effort for ICANN as a whole.

There is a benefit in deferring the additional work of an Organizational Review for the GNSO and ICANN community considering the scope of that work is unclear, pending further planning to better understand implications of the ATRT3 recommendations.

Are there any security, stability or resiliency issues relating to the DNS?

This Board action is not expected to have a direct effect on security, stability or resiliency issues relating to the DNS.

How is this action within ICANN's mission and what is the public interest served in this action?

The Board's action is consistent with ICANN's commitment pursuant to section 4.1 of the Bylaws to ensure ICANN's multistakeholder model remains transparent and accountable, and to improve the performance of its SO/ACs. This action will serve the public interest by fulfilling ICANN's commitment to maintaining and improving its accountability and transparency and by allowing the ICANN's Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees to devote the proper resources to considering their accountability and ongoing purpose in the ICANN system.

Is public comment required prior to Board action?

No public comment is required.