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ICANN Resolutions » Next Steps in Community Priority Evaluation Process Review

Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.

Next Steps in Community Priority Evaluation Process Review


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 15 Mar 2018
Resolution Number: 
2018.03.15.08 - 2018.03.15.11
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the Board directed the President and CEO or his designees to undertake a review of the "process by which ICANN [organization] interacted with the [Community Priority Evaluation (CPE)] Provider, both generally and specifically with respect to the CPE reports issued by the CPE Provider".

Whereas, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) determined that the review should also include: (i) an evaluation of whether the CPE criteria were applied consistently throughout each CPE report; and (ii) a compilation of the research relied upon by the CPE Provider to the extent such research exists for the evaluations that are the subject of pending Reconsideration Requests relating to the CPE process (collectively, the CPE Process Review). (See https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/minutes-bgc-2016-10-18-en.)

Whereas, the BGC determined that the following pending Reconsideration Requests would be on hold until the CPE Process Review was completed: 14-30,1 14-32,2 14-33,3 16-3, 16-5, 16-8, 16-11, and 16-12. (See https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/disspain-letter-rev... [PDF, 405 KB].)

Whereas, the CPE Process Review was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc.'s (FTI) Global Risk and Investigations Practice and Technology Practice.

Whereas, on 13 December 2017, ICANN organization published the three reports on the CPE Process Review (the CPE Process Review Reports).

Whereas, the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee (BAMC) has considered the CPE Process Review Reports (the conclusions of which are set forth in the rationale below) and has provided recommendations to the Board of next steps in the CPE Process Review.

Whereas, the Board has considered the three CPE Process Review Reports and agrees with the BAMC's recommendations.

Resolved (2018.03.15.08), the Board acknowledges and accepts the findings set forth in the three CPE Process Review Reports.

Resolved (2018.03.15.09), the Board concludes that, as a result of the findings in the CPE Process Review Reports, no overhaul or change to the CPE process for this current round of the New gTLD Program is necessary.

Resolved (2018.03.15.10), the Board declares that the CPE Process Review has been completed.

Resolved (2018.03.15.11), the Board directs the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee to move forward with consideration of the remaining Reconsideration Requests relating to the CPE process that were placed on hold pending completion of the CPE Process Review in accordance with the Transition Process of Reconsideration Responsibilities from the BGC to the BAMC [PDF, 42 KB] document.

Rationale for Resolution: 

CPE is a contention resolution mechanism available to applicants that self-designated their applications as community applications.4 CPE is defined in Module 4.2 of the Applicant Guidebook, and allows a community-based application to undergo an evaluation against the criteria as defined in section 4.2.3 of the Applicant Guidebook, to determine if the application warrants the minimum score of 14 points (out of a maximum of 16 points) to earn priority and thus prevail over other applications in the contention set.5 CPE will occur only if a community-based applicant selects to undergo CPE for its relevant application and after all applications in the contention set have completed all previous stages of the new gTLD evaluation process. CPE is performed by an independent provider (CPE Provider).

The Board directed the President and CEO or his designees to undertake a review of the "process by which ICANN [organization] interacted with the [Community Priority Evaluation] CPE Provider, both generally and specifically with respect to the CPE reports issued by the CPE Provider" as part of the Board's oversight of the New gTLD Program (Scope 1).6 The Board's action was part of the ongoing discussions regarding various aspects of the CPE process, including some issues that were identified in the Final Declaration from the Independent Review Process (IRP) proceeding initiated by Dot Registry, LLC.

Thereafter, the Board Governance Committee (BGC) determined that the review should also include: (i) an evaluation of whether the CPE criteria were applied consistently throughout each CPE report (Scope 2); and (ii) a compilation of the research relied upon by the CPE Provider to the extent such research exists for the evaluations that are the subject of pending Reconsideration Requests relating to the CPE process (Scope 3).7 Scopes 1, 2, and 3 are collectively referred to as the CPE Process Review. The BGC determined that the following pending Reconsideration Requests would be on hold until the CPE Process Review was completed: 14-30 (.LLC),8 14-32 (.INC),9 14-3310 (.LLP), 16-3 (.GAY), 16-5 (.MUSIC), 16-8 (.CPA), 16-11 (.HOTEL), and 16-12 (.MERCK).

On 13 December 2017, ICANN organization published three reports on the CPE Process Review.

For Scope 1, "FTI conclude[d] that there is no evidence that ICANN organization had any undue influence on the CPE Provider with respect to the CPE reports issued by the CPE Provider or engaged in any impropriety in the CPE process…. While FTI understands that many communications between ICANN organization and the CPE Provider were verbal and not memorialized in writing, and thus FTI was not able to evaluate them, FTI observed nothing during its investigation and analysis that would indicate that any verbal communications amounted to undue influence or impropriety by ICANN organization." (Scope 1 Report [PDF, 160 KB], Pg. 4)

For Scope 2, "FTI found no evidence that the CPE Provider's evaluation process or reports deviated in any way from the applicable guidelines; nor did FTI observe any instances where the CPE Provider applied the CPE criteria in an inconsistent manner." (Scope 2 Report [PDF, 313 KB], Pg. 3.)

For Scope 3, "[o]f the eight relevant CPE reports, FTI observed two reports (.CPA, .MERCK) where the CPE Provider included a citation in the report for each reference to research. For all eight evaluations (.LLC, .INC, .LLP, .GAY, .MUSIC, .CPA, .HOTEL, and .MERCK), FTI observed instances where the CPE Provider cited reference material in the CPE Provider's working papers that was not otherwise cited in the final CPE report. In addition, in six CPE reports (.LLC, .INC, .LLP, .GAY, .MUSIC, and .HOTEL), FTI observed instances where the CPE Provider referenced research but did not include citations to such research in the reports. In each instance, FTI reviewed the working papers associated with the relevant evaluation to determine if the citation supporting referenced research was reflected in the working papers. For all but one report, FTI observed that the working papers did reflect the citation supporting referenced research not otherwise cited in the corresponding final CPE report. In one instance—the second .GAY final CPE report—FTI observed that while the final report referenced research, the citation to such research was not included in the final report or the working papers for the second .GAY evaluation. However, because the CPE Provider performed two evaluations for the .GAY application, FTI also reviewed the CPE Provider's working papers associated with the first .GAY evaluation to determine if the citation supporting research referenced in the second .GAY final CPE report was reflected in those materials. Based upon FTI's investigation, FTI finds that the citation supporting the research referenced in the second .GAY final CPE report may have been recorded in the CPE Provider's working papers associated with the first .GAY evaluation." (Scope 3 Report [PDF, 309 KB], Pg. 4.)

The Board notes that FTI's findings are based upon its review of the written communications and documents described in the three Reports. The Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee (BAMC) considered the CPE Process Review Reports as part of its oversight of accountability mechanisms and recommended that the Board take the foregoing actions related to the CPE Process Review. The Board agrees. In particular, the BAMC is ready to re-start its review of the remaining reconsideration requests that were put on hold. To ensure that the review of these pending Reconsideration Requests are conducted in an efficient manner and in accordance with the "Transition Process of Reconsideration Responsibilities from the BGC to the BAMC" [PDF, 42 KB], the BAMC has developed a Roadmap [PDF, 30 KB] for the review of the pending Reconsideration Requests.

The Board acknowledges receipt of the letters to the ICANN Board from dotgay LLC on 15 [PDF, 238 KB] and 20 January 2018 [PDF, 130 KB], and from DotMusic Limited on 16 January 2018 [PDF, 49 KB], regarding the CPE Process Review Reports. Both dotgay LLC and DotMusic Limited claim that the CPE Process Review lacked transparency or independence, and was not sufficiently thorough, and ask that the ICANN Board take no action with respect to the conclusions reached by FTI, until the parties have had an opportunity to respond to the FTI Report and to be heard as it relates to their pending reconsideration requests. (See https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 238 KB]; https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 130 KB]; and https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 49 KB].) The Board has considered the arguments raised in the letters. The Board notes that dotgay LLC and DotMusic Limited (among other requestors) each will have an opportunity to submit supplemental materials and make a presentation to the BAMC to address how the CPE Process Review is relevant to their pending Reconsideration Requests. Any specific claims they might have related to the FTI Reports with respect to their particular applications can be addressed then, and ultimately will be considered in connection with the determination on their own Reconsideration Requests.

The Board also acknowledges receipt of the letter to the ICANN Board from dotgay LLC on 31 January 2018 [PDF, 2.32 MB], which attached the Second Expert Opinion of Professor William N. Eskridge, Jr., addressing FTI's Scope 2 Report and Scope 3 Report on the CPE Process Review. (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 2.32 MB].) The Board has considered the arguments raised in the letter and accompanying Second Expert Opinion, and finds that they do not impact this Resolution, but instead will be addressed in connection with dotgay LLC's pending Reconsideration Request 16-3.

First, and as an initial matter, the Board does not accept dotgay LLC's assertion that "a strong case could be made that the purported investigation was undertaken with a pre-determined outcome in mind." (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 2.32 MB], at Pg. 1.) Neither dotgay LLC nor Professor Eskridge offers any support for this baseless claim, and there is none. (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 2.32 MB].) Second, dotgay LLC urges the Board to entirely "reject the findings made by FTI in the FTI Reports", but dotgay LLC has submitted no basis for this outcome. All dotgay LLC offers is Professor Eskridge's Second Expert Opinion, which, at its core, challenges the merits of the report issued by the CPE Provider in connection with dotgay LLC's community application for the .GAY gTLD. (See Response to dotgay LLC at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/wallace-to-ali-05ma... [PDF, 122 KB]; see also Response from dotgay LLC at https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-wallace-07ma... [PDF, 226 KB].) Dotgay LLC will have the opportunity to include such claims in that regard and if it does, the claims will be addressed in connection with their reconsideration request that is currently pending.

The Board also acknowledges the 1 February 2018 letter [PDF, 537 KB] from applicants Travel Reservations SRL, Minds + Machines Group Limited, Radix FXC, dot Hotel Inc. and Fegistry LLC (regarding "Consideration of Next Steps in the Community Priority Evaluation Process Review (Reconsideration Request 16-11)." These applicants that submitted Request 16-11 claim that the CPE Process Review lacked transparency or independence, and ask that the Board address the inconsistencies to "ensure a meaningful review of the CPE regarding .hotel." (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/reconsideration-16-11-trs-et... [PDF, 537 KB].), Pg. 4.) The Board understands the arguments raised in the letter, and again reiterates that the individual requestors with reconsideration requests that were placed on hold pending completion of the CPE Process Review will have the opportunity to submit additional information in support of those reconsideration requests, including the requestors that filed Reconsideration Request 16-11.

The Board acknowledges receipt of DotMusic Limited's submission to the ICANN Board, on 2 February 2018 [PDF, 1.02 MB], regarding the CPE Process Review Reports. First, and as an initial matter, the Board does not accept DotMusic Limited's assertions that FTI's "objective was to exonerate ICANN and the CPE panel", that "the intent of the investigation was to advocate in favor of ICANN and [the CPE Provider]", and that "ICANN carefully tailored the narrow scope of the investigation and cherry-picked documents and information to share with the FTI to protect itself." (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/roussos-to-marby-02... [PDF, 1.02 MB], ¶ 109, Pg. 65, ¶ 69, Pg. 48, ¶ 74, Pg. 49, ¶ 76, Pg. 49.) DotMusic Limited offers no support for these baseless claims, and there is none. (See Response to DotMusic Limited, https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/wallace-to-roussos-... [PDF, 126 KB]; see also Responses from DotMusic Limited, https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/ali-to-icann-board-... [PDF, 227 KB].) DotMusic Limited otherwise reiterates the claims made in its 16 January 2018 [PDF, 49 KB] letter to the ICANN Board, namely that the CPE Process Review lacked transparency and was too narrow. DotMusic Limited asserts that it would be unreasonable for the ICANN Board to accept the conclusions of the FTI Report and reject DotMusic's Reconsideration Request 16-5. The Board has considered the arguments raised in DotMusic Limited's submission, and finds that they do not impact this Resolution. As noted above, DotMusic Limited (among other Requestors) will have an opportunity to submit supplemental materials and make a presentation to the BAMC to address how the CPE Process Review is relevant to its pending Reconsideration Request 16-5, such that any claims DotMusic Limited might have related to the FTI Reports can be addressed then, and then ultimately will be considered in connection with the determination on Reconsideration Request 16-5.

The Board also acknowledges the 22 February 2018 letter [PDF, 516 KB] from applicants Travel Reservations SRL, Minds + Machines Group Limited, Radix FXC, dot Hotel Inc. and Fegistry LLC (regarding "Consideration of Next Steps in the Community Priority Evaluation Process Review (Reconsideration Request 16-11)." These applicants that submitted Request 16-11 reiterate their claim that the CPE Process Review lacked transparency, and further assert that ICANN organization continues to be "non-transparent about the CPE deliberately" insofar as ICANN organization has not published a preliminary report of the BAMC's 2 February 2018 meeting, which these applicants claim is required pursuant to Article 3, Section 3.5(c) of the ICANN Bylaws. (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/reconsideration-16-11-trs-et... [PDF, 516 KB], Pg. 2.) First, the Board notes that Article 3, Section 3.5 relates to Minutes and Preliminary Reports of meetings of the Board, the Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations. (See Article 3, Section 3.5(a).) In this regard, the timing requirements relative to the publication of preliminary reports provided by Article 3, Section 3.5(c) of the Bylaws relates to the publication of "any actions taken by the Board" after the conclusion a Board meeting, not Board Committees meetings. In either case, the minutes of the BAMC's 2 February 2018 meeting have been published and reflect that the BAMC considered the recent letters to the ICANN Board regarding the CPE Process Review. (See https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/minutes-bamc-2018-02-02-en.) Second, the Board did timely publish, in accordance with Article 3, Section 3.5(c), a preliminary report regarding "Next Steps in Community Priority Evaluation Process Review – UPDATE ONLY", which reflected the Board's discussion of the CPE Process Review, including the fact that "the Board has received letters from a number of applicants … [, that] the BAMC [has] taken the letters and reports into consideration as part of its recommendation to the Board, [and that] the proposed resolution has been continued to the Board's next meeting in Puerto Rico to allow the Board members additional time to consider the new documents." (Preliminary Report | Regular Meeting of the ICANN Board, available at: https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/prelim-report-2018-02-04-en). Third, the Board understands the arguments raised in the letter, and again reiterates that the individual requestors with reconsideration requests that were placed on hold pending completion of the CPE Process Review will have the opportunity to submit additional information in support of those reconsideration requests, including the requestors that filed Reconsideration Request 16-11.

The Board acknowledges receipt of a letter from the Head of Institutional Relations at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to dotgay LLC, with a copy to the ICANN Board regarding its "disappointing experience with the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) process." (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/mazzone-to-baxter-0... [PDF, 154 KB], Pg. 1.) The EBU raised very generalized concerns about the CPE process but did not provide any level of specificity about those concerns. Because the letter lacks specificity and does not detail the EBU's precise concerns, the Board regards the letter as support for the positions expressed by dotgay LLC and will be considered as part of the Board's evaluation of dotgay LLC's pending Reconsideration Request.

The Board also acknowledges receipt of letters from SERO and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce on 18 February 2018 [PDF, 371 KB] and 1 March 2018 [PDF, 1.16 MB], respectively, expressing support for dotgay LLC's community application. These letters will be considered as part of the Board's evaluation of dotgay LLC's pending Reconsideration Request.

Taking this action is in the public interest and consistent with ICANN's Mission, Commitments and Core Values as it will provide transparency and accountability regarding the CPE process and the CPE Process Review. This action also ensures that ICANN operates in a manner consistent with the Bylaws by making decisions that apply documented policies consistently, neutrally, objectively, and fairly without singling out any particular party for discriminatory treatment.

This action has no financial impact on ICANN and will not negatively impact the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.

This decision is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment.