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ICANN Resolutions » Organizational Review of the At-Large - Final Report and Recommendations

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.

Organizational Review of the At-Large - Final Report and Recommendations


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Meeting Date: 
Sat, 23 Jun 2018
Resolution Number: 
2018.06.23.11 – 2018.06.23.15
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the second organizational review of the At-Large commenced in May 2016, in accordance with the ICANN Bylaws, Article 4, Section 4.4, which requires the ICANN Board to "cause a periodic review of … each Advisory Committee … to determine (i) whether that organization, council or committee has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure, (ii) if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness and (iii) whether that organization, council or committee is accountable to its constituencies, stakeholder groups, organizations and other stakeholders."

Whereas, the independent examiner that conducted the second At-Large Review produced a Draft Report that was published for Public Comment in February 2017 and a Final Report, published in May 2017.

Whereas, the ICANN community provided input via public comment on the Draft Report.

Whereas, the At-Large Review Working Party drafted the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan, approved by the At-Large Advisory Committee.

Whereas, the Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the ICANN Board (OEC) received a briefing from the independent examiner on the Final Report and the At-Large Review Working Party on the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan during its meeting on 21 September 2017.

Whereas, the OEC approved a document mapping the underlying issues noted in the Final Report and the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan, during its meeting on 6 December 2017.

Whereas, the mapping document highlighted differences between the Final Report and the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan and the OEC included a set of questions to the RWP, because the OEC agreed that "further discussion with the Review Working Party is required on this topic, prior to making a recommendation to the Board on the Final Report or the Feasibility Study."

Whereas, in response to the mapping document, the At-Large Review Working Party drafted the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, approved by the ALAC and submitted the same for the OEC's consideration.

Whereas, after submission of the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group and Contracted Parties House of the GNSO Council submitted additional correspondence to the ICANN Board on the review, and the ALAC provided additional information to the OEC in response to those letters. The OEC believes that the ALAC has adequately taken the concerns raised into account.

Whereas, the OEC considered all relevant documents, and public comment input at a 29 May 2018 meeting in order to reach a recommendation to the Board on how to proceed with the organizational review of the At-Large.

Resolved (2018.06.23.11), the Board receives the At-Large Review Final Report from the independent examiner.

Resolved (2018.06.23.12), the Board accepts the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan, approved by the ALAC on 22 August 2017, and the Review Working Party's At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, approved by the ALAC on 20 April 2018.

Resolved (2018.06.23.13), the Board directs the ALAC to convene an At-Large review implementation working group that oversees the implementation process of the implementation proposals contained in the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, including through the development of a detailed implementation plan. The Board expects that the implementation plan will expand on the implementation steps detailed in the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, including through identification of metrics for each implementation, a concise overview of the current state for each of the ALAC's proposals, a clearly defined goal of the implementation objectives, and a methodology of how to measure implementation progress on an ongoing basis.

Resolved (2018.06.23.14), the Board directs the ALAC to work with ICANN organization to include expected budgetary implication for each of the implementation steps into its detailed implementation plan. The implementation plan shall incorporate a phased approach that allows for easy-to-implement and least costly improvements to be implemented first, with those items with more significant budget implications addressed via subsequent budget cycles. Any budgetary requests should be made in line with ICANN organization's budgeting processes. The detailed implementation plan shall be submitted to the Board as soon as possible, but no later than six (6) months after the adoption of this resolution.

Resolved (2018.06.23.15), the Board directs the At-Large review implementation working group to provide to the OEC semiannual written implementation reports on progress against the implementation plan, including, but not limited to, progress toward metrics detailed in the implementation plan and use of allocated budget.

Rationale for Resolution: 

To ensure ICANN's multistakeholder model remains transparent and accountable, and to improve its performance, ICANN conducts ICANN Bylaws-mandated organizational reviews of its Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees as prescribed in Article 4, Section 4.4 of its Bylaws. The second At-Large Review started in May 2016.

Independent Examination

ITEMS International was appointed as the independent examiner for the At-Large Review in May 2016, in accordance with ICANN's procurement process that involved ICANN organization personnel and the Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board (OEC), which is responsible for overseeing the organizational review process. During its work, ITEMS reviewed relevant documentation, conducted over 100 face-to-face interviews with members of the At-Large community, the ICANN community, the ICANN Board, and the ICANN organization. ITEMS' survey gathered 242 individual responses. In addition, ITEMS held 15 calls, three face-to-face meetings with the RWP, and two community-wide webinars. A Draft Report [PDF, 2.31 MB] was published for public comment, following the standard ICANN process.

The RWP also provided direct feedback to the independent examiner on initial drafts of the Draft Report [PDF, 2.31 MB] and the Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB]. ITEMS considered this feedback, incorporating those elements that it deemed appropriate based on its independent role and professional judgement.

On 1 May 2017, ITEMS submitted its Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB] to ICANN. The Final Report included a narrative of underlying issues identified by the independent examiner, and 16 recommendations designed by the independent examiner as proposals to address those issues. At the core of the recommendations was the proposal to reorganize the At-Large based on a so-called 'Empowered Membership Model'.

At-Large Review Working Party/ALAC Input

The RWP agreed with some of the issues raised in the Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB]. The Board notes that the RWP raised concerns that many recommendations, including the Empowered Membership Model, were either not implementable or, if implemented without modification, would be harmful to the At-Large community as the recommendations would lead to a deviation from the organization's mission and function as stated in the ICANN Bylaws Article 12.2(d). The RWP provided detailed rationale of its concerns in the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan [PDF, 556 KB], approved by the ALAC on 22 August 2017.

The RWP drafted the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, approved by the ALAC on 20 April 2018, in which it provided additional comments on the review findings and stipulated alternative proposals to address those underlying issues identified by the independent examiner with which the At-Large community agreed.

Input from ICANN community

In addition to the responses collected by the independent examiner through interviews and online surveys, during the public comment on the independent examiner's Draft Report [PDF, 2.31 MB], 15 comments were submitted, five authored by individual contributors, and ten by organizations (including five organizations affiliated with the At-Large community). See Staff Report of Public Comment Proceeding [PDF, 1.07 MB]. Overall, the comments from the At-Large community, including the ALAC, RALOs, and some ALSs, were critical of ITEMS' Draft Report. Notably, the ALAC stated that its "strong belief of the ALAC and the Review Working Party that with no Working Groups (WGs); overloaded ALAC Members serving the dual role of RALO leaders; Rapporteurs with minimal knowledge and experience interfacing with their AC/SO WGs and authoring statements; effectively getting 'old-timers' out of the way and minimally visible; and Liaisons unable to do their jobs (or being rejected by their target organization), we would have succeeded in ensuring that At-Large would no longer be of service to ICANN or able to defend the interests of end-users."

Other contributors were less critical of ITEMS' report, supporting at least some aspects of the Empowered Membership Model proposal and agreeing with many of ITEMS' assessments and recommendations. For example, the Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) noted that "we support the conclusion that At-Large's mission is important to ICANN but that the delivery of that mission has been limited by At-Large's current form." The Commercial and Business User Constituency (CBUC) "endorses some aspects of the Empowered Membership Model (EMM)." Similarly, the Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) believes that "many of the problems identified by the ITEMS report do exist. In particular, that: It is too focused on internal committees and procedures, and that it is too focused on enlarging the power and resources received by ALAC in the ICANN ecosystem."

OEC and Board Considerations and Actions

The OEC, as the ICANN Board committee overseeing organizational reviews, reviewed all relevant documents pertaining to the At-Large review in detail. Specifically, it considered the Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB] and the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan [PDF, 556 KB] and received presentations and input from the independent examiner and the RWP, respectively. Following those presentations, the OEC then ordered ICANN organization to produce a mapping document [PDF, 707 KB] that was issued by the OEC to the RWP and included a number of questions. The mapping document in turn led the RWP to draft the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal. That document, although not responding to the questions contained in the mapping document, provided detailed comments oriented to address the issues raised by the independent examiner; it also produced a set of ALAC-approved implementation proposals.

Following the publication of the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, the CPH [PDF, 60 KB], the NCSG [PDF, 163 KB], and a group called Atlarge.watch, which submitted its letter anonymously, wrote to the ICANN Board. The CPH and NCSG both followed up on their public comments and raised concerns that the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal does not, in their view, address the questions in the mapping document [PDF, 707 KB], nor does it respond to specific criticisms raised in the At-Large Review report. The NCSG stated that the Implementation Proposal "will not address some of the most important and fundamental problems that were identified by the reviewers and the broader community." Both the NCSG and CPH called for an updated implementation overview to address all questions from the mapping document and the outcome to "be presented to the whole ICANN community, so that any further input from, or discussion with, the community can be arranged, to see the Review through to an appropriate end."

The Board notes these concerns and has considered them together with all other community input received throughout this review process. The Board believes that conducting an additional round of public comments is not in line with the organizational review process, and would unnecessarily prolong the second At-Large Review and the implementation of improvements. Regarding the letters sent by the CPH [PDF, 60 KB] and NCSG [PDF, 163 KB], the OEC's recommendation, and the resulting Board action was compelled by the fact that the ALAC took on this fruitful discussion and responded [PDF, 177 KB] in a substantive and detailed way. In consideration of the responses provided, the OEC recommended, and the Board agrees, that it is appropriate to move the At-Large Review forward, based on the discussion and assurances provided by the ALAC, and that there is no further need for the RWP to provide answers to the questions raised in the mapping document [PDF, 707 KB].

Having considered the ALAC position, including its response to community concerns, the Board believes that the ALAC has demonstrated accountability and transparency in this organizational review process. Furthermore, the Board believes that the At-Large Implementation Overview Proposal provides an appropriate response to the concerns raised by the review, and is hopeful that the proposal will lead to a much-improved At-Large and further improve end user participation within ICANN's multistakeholder model. While the recommendation path that is being pursued veers significantly from the recommendations of the independent examiner, the Board considers, based on all that it has seen, that the implementation recommendations are appropriate to address the well-stated issues from the independent examiner's report. Implementing the ALAC-proposed improvements is a significant step in assuring that the post-review At-Large is able and capable to fulfil its Bylaws-mandated role and responsibilities.

In order to confirm that the ALAC proceeds appropriately, the Board is directing the ALAC to provide it with an expanded implementation plan, including a concise overview of the current state for each of the ALAC's implementation proposals, a clearly defined goal of the implementation objectives, prioritization and resource implications, and a methodology of how to measure implementation progress on an ongoing basis. The Board believes that these metrics will help ensure an accountable and transparent implementation process, leading to meaningful improvements to further enhance the At-Large's crucial role of representing end user interests within ICANN, as defined in the Bylaws.

Generally, the Board notes the importance of the organizational review process, as defined in Bylaws Section 4.4. Since the start of the At-Large review process, the OEC and the ICANN organization have already implemented changes to the broader organizational review process to address the procedural issues observed within this At-Large review, and particularly to keep from other reviews suffering from the same inability of the RWP and the independent examiner to agree on how to address the underlying issues and appropriate recommendations. Notably, the organizational review process (for all reviews convened after this second At-Large review) now consists of two phases, with the first phase focusing solely on an assessment of the organization under review. The second phase, which begins once substantial agreement is reached on the assessment between the independent examiner and the organization under review, then focuses on developing recommendations for improvements. This two-phased approach will mitigate against a similar outcome as occurred during the At-Large review, and it will help bolster the organizational review process and the accountability of the organizations under review.

The organizational review process is an iterative process, and the Board hopes that all parts of the ICANN community will continue to work productively to understand the unique roles and viewpoints that each SO/AC brings to ICANN, to its policy development work and cross-community efforts, and we look forward to the next iteration of reviews to continue refinement and process improvement.

What is the proposal being considered?

The Board considers the proposal to accept the Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB], the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan [PDF, 556 KB], and the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, both approved by the ALAC. In addition, the Board considers instructing the ALAC to form an implementation team. The implementation team shall draft an implementation plan and provide the OEC with semiannual written reports detailing the implementation progress. Due to the fact that some of the independent examiner's recommendations were either not implementable or, if implemented without modification, would lead to a deviation from the At-Large's mission and function, the Board is considering whether to instruct the ALAC to use the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal in lieu of the Final Report to reasonably address the underlying issues identified by the independent reviewer to guide the implementation process.

What significant materials did the Board review?

The Board reviewed: the independent examiner's Review of the ICANN At-Large Community Final Report [PDF, 4.04 MB] containing 16 recommendations; the At-Large Review Recommendations Feasibility Assessment & Implementation Plan [PDF, 556 KB] approved by the ALAC; the mapping document [PDF, 707 KB] requested by the OEC and prepared by the ICANN organization; and the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal approved by the ALAC. The Board also reviewed all public comments, and the staff summary of public comments [PDF, 1.07 MB], including the letters sent by the CPH [PDF, 60 KB] and the NCSG [PDF, 163 KB]. Based on this, and the recommendations made by the OEC, the Board agrees that the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal should serve as the guide for the implementation work.

Are there fiscal impacts or ramifications on ICANN (strategic plan, operating plan, or budget)?

The work to improve the effectiveness of the ALAC and the At-Large, as detailed in the At-Large Review Implementation Overview Proposal, may require additional resources beyond those included in the Board-approved FY19 Operating Plan and Budget. With this action, the ALAC is directed to form a team, which will plan, execute, and report on implementation efforts. A detailed implementation plan shall be drafted, including budget/resources impact (where applicable), and the plan should incorporate a phased approach that allows for easy-to-implement and least costly recommendations to be implemented first, with more significant budget implications addressed via the FY20 budget cycle.

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

This action is not expected to have a direct impact on the security, stability, or resiliency of the DNS.

Is public comment required prior to Board action?

A Public Comment was opened following the publication of the Draft Report [PDF, 2.31 MB] in February 2017. No further public comments are required.

Consistency with ICANN's Mission and Serving the Global Public Interest

This action is consistent with ICANN's mission and serves the global public interest by supporting the effectiveness and ongoing improvement of the accountability of all parts of ICANN.