They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Living in a nation currently embroiled in an ongoing war in Iraq, I am sensitive to the need for "exit strategies". It is now time for us to establish a suitable exit plan for the ALAC so that this suffering beast may humanely be put out of its misery. In this matter, we are best guided by precedent. When ICANN retired the Protocol Supporting Organization (PSO), it did so in a manner that compacted a large entity into a tiny handful of participants: the ICANN Technical Liason Group. The IAB, together with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the International Telecommunications Union's Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are now all members of the 8-person ICANN Technical Liaison Group (TLG) whose role is described in Article 11-A, Section 2 of the ICANN Bylaws. In similar fashion, the ALAC and its RALOs and ALSs may be deconstructed. First, as all the ALSs are non-commercial organizations, there is no difficulty in asking them to voluntarily migrate to the NonCommercial House of the GNSO wherein they may associate and interact with their non-commercial peers. As for the ALAC itself, we want to make sure that whatever happens, it retains some of the power that it formally wielded. Yes, I can hear you laughing... you're probably asking: "what kind of power does the ALAC have as no one gives any credence whatsoever to the Statements that it regularly releases? ...true, but the ALAC was granted one unique power: the ability to invoke an Advisory Committee Initiation of the GNSO PDP Process (bylaws Annex A1c). ... and what exactly does that mean? Essentially, it's the right to say to the GNSO Council: "Wake up guys! There's a problem here that requires a policy solution!" In other words, the ALAC's power resides in its ability to function as a Suggestion Box. Sure, the GNSO may disregard the request, but they may also act on the request -- and this is what's really important -- it's a highly needed function as the GNSO itself has no other formal intake mechanism for unscheduled comments from the general public. But, do we need a full team of 15 people to perform this function? Nope. This is our chance to get rid of the dead wood. Let the Chair designate a small Steering Group drawn from the actual worker bees in the hive. While you could call it the User Steering Group (USG), that acronym is already reserved for someone that the ICANN Board actually listens to, so you'll have to find a new acronym... but we all know how much ICANN loves to create new acronyms in their reform processes, so this might be viewed as the fun part of the plan. Ideally this group would have no more than six members -- the Chair and a delegate from each region (each replacable at the Chair's discretion but all subject to ratification by the Board). Of course, just like the TLG, this Steering Group would also have a non-voting liaison to the Board (just as the ALAC has now). Through this process you retain the influence of the ALAC without all the unnecessary trappings, you significantly reduce costs, and you provide a more focused service to the GNSO. Mull it over.