Comments on ATRT Draft Recommendations
The following comments are being made on solely my own behalf.I strongly support the overall direction and tone of the draft ATRT report. I do however have comments on several recommendations.
1. Board SkillsWhile I support the concept that the Board needs skills in a number of areas (and probably more areas than there are NomCom-selected Board members), there is a danger in focusing too much on this selection criteria.
What the Board does NOT need are silos of expertise each defending and fighting for what they think is important. The Board does need people who are comfortable with being presented with complex, multi-faceted issues where a balance must be reached between the conflicting requirements. It could be said that this is the reason that the Board needs experts in conflict management. However I believe that what the Board needs are people (whether experts or generalists) who can assess the various issues and needs and based on careful analysis, find central ground. All Board members need this kind of comfort and ability at conflict-resolution (as opposed to formal professional conflict resolution experience).
The Board needs people who are passionate, not just about their particular area of specialty, but about the Internet and ICANN. But passion alone will not suffice. There must be a level of comfort in working in an area where the ground is constantly moving, challenging the varied interests that are making competing demands.
7. AC/SO ConsultationI strongly support this recommendation. It does require, however, that there be proper notice of what the Board will be addressing, and when. In recent Board meetings, the agenda is often peppered with vague one-line titles and it takes a crystal ball to even figure out what the topic is. Moreover, to take a recent example, the Board meetings that were held along with the two retreats were about as opaqueness as possible. The first was not announced until shortly before it happened, with no details provided, and the second was (as far as I could determine) not even announced at all prior to the results being published. Even when agendas are published with proper notice, it is insufficient to allow comment. There needs to be a much longer focus.
To make matters worse, the Board has decided to dive deep into specific policy issues and make small adjustments to policy that has been formulated by community groups. The current example is the adjustment to the number of days for response to a URS notice. This point had been hammered out with great difficulty by the STI group and the result was very much a compromise between competing factions. But there WAS final agreement. Those who wanted a shorter time of course made comments, and the Board listened to them, I suspect without fully understanding the nuances and associated compromises that had been made by the cross-community group. If notice had been given, there would have been a chance for all sides to present their case, and not just the squeaky wheels.
10. Transparency of Board decision processWhile I fully support the intent, I am wondering how effective the measures will be, and how accurately the output will reflect reality. To say the Board must say how they arrived at a decision really translates to Staff writing what they believe were the issues that contributed to a decision. How accurate it will be will depend on the ability of staff to read minds, and to rationalize after the fact the de facto decision.
It would be far better to have winning and losing groups of Directors write papers a la a Supreme Court decision. But the reality is our Directors do not generally have the time, skill or interest in doing that after the decision has been made. They want to more on to the next issue.
Somehow this recommendation must be made in such a way that the results are truly meaningful instead of just massive make-work efforts that may not reflect the actual decision process.