ICANN Resolutions » New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase (ODP): Scoping Document, Board Resolution, Funding and Next steps

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New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase (ODP): Scoping Document, Board Resolution, Funding and Next steps


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Sun, 12 Sep 2021
Resolution Number: 
2021.09.12.01 – 2021.09.12.02
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, on 18 February 2021 the GNSO Council approved the Affirmations, Recommendations, and Implementation Guidance (collectively, referred to as "Outputs") that were determined to have received either Full Consensus or Consensus designations as documented in its New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process

Whereas, the Board has begun its deliberations to consider whether the Outputs in the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Final Report are in the best interests of the ICANN community or ICANN.

Whereas, the Board wishes to utilize the Operational Design Phase (ODP) process to assess all of the Final Report Outputs and to gather more information as part of its deliberations.

Whereas, the ODP for the Final Report Outputs will be an initiation and an integral part of the preparation work for a possible next application round for new gTLDs based on the existing new gTLD policy of 2008, as modified by the GNSO Subsequent Procedures recommendations, if and when those recommendations are approved, and the costs incurred during the ODP phase are considered part of the necessary development costs for that possible next round.

Whereas, the ICANN President and CEO and the Board Caucus on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process have recommended that the Board authorize the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to initiate and conduct an ODP on all of the Final Report Outputs from the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process.

Whereas, the Board recognizes that the ODP is a significant undertaking and will require a considerable amount of ICANN org resources to execute, thereby creating the need for a range of US$7-$9M in spending to fund the necessary resources.

Whereas, the ICANN President and CEO and the Board Finance Committee have recommended that the Board authorize the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to spend up to US$9M to fund the resources needed for ICANN org to initiate and conduct the ODP and any additional related work that may be required to support the ICANN Board's consideration of the New Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Final Report.

Resolved (2021.09.12.01), the Board directs the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to conduct the Operational Design Phase (ODP) by addressing the questions outlined in the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase Scoping Document. The Board further directs the President and CEO, or his designees(s), to take the steps needed to organize the resources required to begin work on the ODP, and to advise the Board when the work of the ODP is initiated within the organization. The Board requests regular updates on the progress of the work and delivery of the Operational Design Assessment (ODA), the expected output of the ODP, within ten months from the date of initiation, provided that there are no unforeseen matters that could affect the timeline, of which any such matters are to be communicated to the Board immediately upon identification.

Resolved (2021.09.12.02), the Board authorizes the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to contract for, make disbursements for, or spend, on any one or more pieces of work, a total of up to US$9M to fund the internal project needed for initiation of the ODP, the execution of the ODP including community engagement, formation and delivery of an ODA to the Board, and any additional related work that may be required to support the ICANN Board's consideration of the New Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Final Report until such a time when the ICANN Board has made its determination regarding said report. This work is considered the initiation and an integral part of the preparation for the next round, and its costs part of the development costs for the next round. The source of the funding for the ODP is intended to be the New gTLD Program funds, composed of the remaining funds of the 2012 round.

Rationale for Resolution: 

Why is the Board addressing the issue?

The Board is taking action today to take a key step as part of the Board's requirement to consider the consensus policy recommendations and other outputs approved by the GNSO Council to enable moving forward with subsequent rounds of new gTLDs. Due to the required resource investment and complexity of the Affirmations, Recommendations, and Implementation Guidance (collectively, referred to as "Outputs") that were determined to have received either Full Consensus or Consensus designations as documented in the New Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Final Report ("Final Report"), initiating an ODP for the Final Report Outputs is essential to inform the Board's deliberations, including whether the recommendations are in the best interests of the ICANN community or ICANN, as noted above. The ODP will assess the potential risks, anticipated costs, resource requirements, timelines, and other matters related to implementation of the Final Report, as detailed in the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase Scoping Document. The ODP will provide additional transparency into the information provided to and considered by the ICANN Board in support of its obligation to act on the Final Report in accordance with the ICANN Bylaws.

What is the proposal being considered?

The Board is taking action to initiate the ODP and directs ICANN org to prepare an assessment of the operational requirements and impact of the Final Report Outputs according to the scope specified by the Board for the purpose of facilitating the Board's determination of the recommendations.

Which stakeholders or others were consulted?

The Board followed closely relevant stakeholder discussions related to a possible launch of an ODP for the Subsequent Procedures Final Report Outputs.1 During ICANN71, The Board also had constructive exchanges on this topic in its meetings with the GAC. The Board also notes that during ICANN71 ICANN org provided the GAC with an update on the status of a potential ODP for the Subsequent Procedures Final Report Outputs and on 24 June 2021, the ICANN Board had a similar discussion with the GNSO Council.

The Board will consider community input on the substance of the Final Report once the Operational Design Phase has concluded and the Board is considering the approval of the Final Report.

What concerns or issues were raised by the community?

Some groups within the ICANN community have raised concerns regarding a potential Board request for an ODP for the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Final Report Outputs. The three main concerns raised are:

The time it will take to conduct an ODP may lead to delays in the launch of subsequent rounds of new gTLDs.
The need to address dependencies before the application window for subsequent rounds of new gTLDs opens.
Concern that the ODP assessment may inappropriately impact the intention or substance of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Final Report Outputs
The Board acknowledges the community's concerns and considered them prior to taking its decision to move forward with requesting an ODP. In evaluating the concerns, the ICANN Board considered that the work done during the ODP is expected to streamline the implementation phase due to the investment in advance preparations, and thus not lead to delays in the launch of subsequent application rounds. Additionally, the ICANN Board considered that the ODP is expected to address the concerns as it provides the opportunity to define, clarify, and resolve dependencies and the ODP has built in protections, such as the ICANN Board setting the limited scope of the ODP and the inclusion of a GNSO liaison as part of the ODP process to identify any policy questions that may arise during the course of the ODP.

What significant materials did the Board review?

The Board reviewed the Final Report, including minority statements, to decide whether the complexity of the outputs merits the launch of an Operational Design Phase to better inform the Board's determination whether the recommendations are in the best interest of the ICANN community or ICANN, as noted above. The Board has also reviewed the public comments received in the comment period from 22 April 2021 to 1 June 2021. The Board will ultimately consider these inputs, as well as the Operational Design Assessment derived during the Operational Design Phase, as well as other relevant materials, in its determination on the Outputs in the Final Report.

What factors did the Board find to be significant?

To help facilitate the Board's determination whether the Outputs contained in the Final Report are in the best interest of the ICANN Community or ICANN, as noted above, the Board considered the following factors to be significant:

The volume and complexity of the Final Report Outputs:
The Final Report contains over three hundred Outputs.
Not all of the Final Report Outputs were approved by the GNSO Council.
Significant demand on resourcing to implement the Final Report Outputs.
The value of assessing the Final Report Outputs as a whole rather than on an individual basis:
A significant number of the Outputs are interrelated or have dependencies.
Some rules and procedures from the 2012 round have been reaffirmed, others have been amended, and others are new.
A need to understand what resourcing is required to launch subsequent rounds of new gTLDs based on the Outputs contained in the Final Report:
An overview of expected costs, including staffing, contracting, systems, and other long-term costs involved in implementing and operating future rounds is important for organizational planning.
This includes an overview of one-off costs versus those that will be ongoing.
Are there positive or negative community impacts?

The overall impact of the ODP on the community is positive. The ODP will provide additional transparency into the Board's consideration of the SubPro PDP Working Group's Outputs: the ODP is a transparent process and the community will be kept updated throughout. The ODP team will provide regular updates via webinars, blogs, dedicated webpage presence, community sessions, and progress updates, thereby further enhancing transparency.

ICANN org will also seek appropriate community feedback on the facts, figures, and assumptions that will be included in its ODP assessment, providing the community with an opportunity to submit feedback on the materials the Board will review before its decision. While the conduct of the ODP may extend the time the Board will take to resolve on the Outputs, the ODA, which includes a high-level, end-to-end operational design model of the Outputs, will become an invaluable tool to help streamline the implementation timeline.

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

Initiating and conducting an ODP for the Subsequent Procedures Final Report Outputs is a significant undertaking and will require a considerable amount of ICANN org resources. The President and CEO and the Board Finance Committee (BFC) recommended that the ICANN Board authorize a range of US$7-$9M in spending to fund the needed resources2.

The resolution includes approval to spend up to US$9M to fund the additional resources required to initiate and conduct the ODP. The ICANN Board approved the upper limit of the estimated US$7M-$9M to provide the ICANN org with the maximum flexibility to ensure prudent planning and to minimize time during the ODP in the event that org would need to come back to the Board to request additional funding.

The ODP for the Subsequent Procedures Final Report will be an integral part of the preparation work for the next round of subsequent procedures for new gTLDs and will be incurred regardless. As such, the costs incurred during the ODP phase are considered part of the development costs for the next round and will be incurred regardless.

The funding to pay for such development costs, including those for an ODP for the Subsequent Procedures Final Report, will come from the new gTLD application round remaining application fees. These funds are intended to be used on the program, are not specifically earmarked for a specific round, and are therefore being recommended to fund the ODP relating to this new round.

ICANN org is working under the general assumption that there will be subsequent rounds of new gTLDs. The estimated resource requirements for the ODP have been calculated to ensure that, under the assumption there will be future rounds, following a Board decision regarding the New Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Final Report, ICANN org will be well positioned to not only support the ODP itself, but to use the additional resources to support implementation planning, implementation, and ongoing operations of the approved policy recommendations.

A key component of the anticipated resource expenditures will be additional staffing for ICANN org to increase its capacity to meet the additional demand on resources. ICANN org will be seeking a combination of temporary staff and FTEs to support the ODP, which will vary and be dictated by the type and duration of the work being performed. Each FTE or temporary resource translates to approximately 1,800 working hours per year. ICANN org will leverage the opportunity, where needed and appropriate, to begin hiring and training full-time staff to support the ODP and who will be trained and ready to support implementation planning, implementation, and ongoing operations following the Board's decision regarding the Subsequent Procedures Final Report. In cases where the additional staff resource requirements are shorter term or less permanent, ICANN org will leverage the most appropriate staffing solution.

ICANN org will also utilize the approved funds to seek outside support and expertise where relevant, e.g., regarding legal matters, operational support, and technical matters. In light of the ICANN Board's 15 July 2021 resolution, ICANN org included in its estimated resource requirements a line item to investigate whether it is feasible for ICANN org to facilitate small in-person or hybrid community meeting(s), should travel and meeting conditions allow, to begin generating awareness in underserved regions regarding the potential opportunity of subsequent rounds, to initiate discussions regarding how ICANN org will provide support for linguistic needs and Internationalized Domain Names, and to provide information regarding ICANN's mission and the goals of the new gTLD initiative.

As this ODP request will be funded from the New gTLD Program fund, a specific source of funds that is separate from ICANN org's day-to-day funding source, the risk that conducting this will have a negative impact on ICANN org's operations is mitigated.

ICANN org's Strategic and Operating plans include goals and initiatives, respectively, which are directly tied to the work of the Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group and the preparation for new gTLD application rounds. The request for an ODP assessment of the Final Report Outputs from the Subsequent Procedures PDP is in alignment with ICANN org's overall planning and communications regarding both the Strategic and Operating plans.

Throughout the ODP, ICANN org will provide the community with periodic updates, opportunities to provide feedback, and an opportunity to review the work, thereby impacting community member resources as well.

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

The ODP will consider the impact that the Outputs may have on the security, stability or resiliency of the DNS, including from both an operational perspective and a risk perspective.

Is this decision in the public interest and within ICANN's mission?

As part of the ODP, the Board will explore public interest considerations, if any, that could result from implementation of the Final Report Outputs. The mechanism that will be used for ascertaining the public interest is the Global Public Interest Framework that was developed in collaboration with the ICANN community and Board, and that the Board agreed to pilot in FY21. The Framework will only be used as an evaluative tool for the Outputs.

Under ICANN's Mission, Commitments, and Core Values, ICANN is tasked with the following:

Operating with efficiency and excellence, in a fiscally responsible and accountable manner.
Promoting and sustaining a competitive environment in the DNS market, where feasible, and introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names, where practicable and beneficial to the public interest.
Coordinating the allocation and assignment of names in the root zone of the Domain Name System and coordinating the development and implementation of policies concerning the registration of second-level domain names in generic top-level domains.
Is this either a defined policy process within ICANN's Supporting Organizations or ICANN's Organizational Administrative Function decision requiring public comment or not requiring public comment?

This is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment, but it should be noted that the Final Report Outputs were the subject of public comment, and the ODP Process was developed in collaboration with the ICANN community. Additionally, the ODP itself is an open and transparent process and it is foreseen that stakeholders will be able to provide comments and feedback throughout the design phase.