GNSO Council response to the independent review
This response was discussed at the Council meeting of 13 January, and the Council agreed to forward this to the comments forum if no comments were received from Council members within 7 days. Regards, Bruce Tonkin Chair, GNSO Council Recommendation 1: The Council has made a significant contribution to other ICANN core values such as outreach, bottom-up consensus based policy development, geographical diversity and transparency. It has endeavoured to make good use of the ICANN meetings to conduct outreach activities with other ICANN organizations and with the broader internet community. The Council should plan to expand and enhance these activities. Council response: The Council will continue to review ways to improve outreach. At the Cape Town meeting the Council introduced a GNSO Public Forum to present more in-depth information on current policy issues and seek public input as part of the policy development process. Recommendation 2: The appointment of liaisons is a good step in building links with other parts of the ICANN structure. Again consideration needs to be given to the best way that these liaisons can be used to raise awareness of Council issues. The crafting of a "role description" or "partnership agreement" may assist with setting clear expectations and maximizing outcomes. Council response: The Council has encouraged the appointment of liaisons to the GNSO (e.g ALAC, cctlds, GAC), but would like to see more reciprocal liaisons where members of Council could act as liaisons to some of these other groups. The Council agrees that the crafting of a role descriptions and agreements that set out the goals of liaisons between specific parts of the ICANN srtucture would be useful. Recommendation 3: While it is healthy that the Council has representation from four of the ICANN regions, the Council should develop a plan for increasing representation so that all regions are covered Council response: The Council doesn't have any direct control over appointments to Council. Each constituency independently elects representatives from geographically diverse regions. The ICANN Nominating Committee process is currently the primary mechanism whereby gaps in the geographic coverage of the Council can be addressed. Recommendation 4: Furthermore, consideration needs to be given to ways in which people from non-English speaking backgrounds can participate more actively in Council. This may involve making greater use of face to face time at ICANN meetings (where communication is easier) in addition to telephone conferences. The availability of translations of key documents would also assist, but this would need careful consideration as it could easily become a very expensive exercise. Council response: The Council acknowledges that it is difficult for people from non-English speaking backgrounds to participate actively in teleconferences. The Council is investigating augementing teleconferences with messaging technogoglies that would allow Council members to see text summaries of the discussion in real-time, and also be able to send text messages for viewing by other Council members. Recommendation 5: The Council should seek approval from the Board for a revised policy Development Process. The alternative process should have the following elements: * Scoping phase (history of the issue, key questions, contractual issues, terms of reference, timelines, milestones including deliverables and check points for legal opinion) which should be done as quickly as feasible, probably within the timeframe of the current issues report * Policy work (including research, consultation with constituencies, periods for public comment) with timelines set in the scoping phase according to the complexity of the task * Regular reporting to Council on milestones as established in the scoping phase * A final report and public comment period as in the current PDP * A Council vote as in the current PDP Council response: The Council supports the recommendation of the external reviewer for more flexibility in the timelines of policy development. Recommendation 6: The Council should develop a formal process for seeking input from other ICANN organizations for each of the policies it is developing. Council response: The Council through its liaisons does request input from other ICANN organisations, and the most effective way of doing for each organisation is subject to ongoing development. Recommendation 7: In addition to these changes, the Council should consider other measures to speed up the consensus process, including the greater use of time at ICANN meetings to discuss issues face to face, and possibly the use of facilitators to move more quickly to understanding of issues and building of consensus. Council response: The Council has been moving progressively to increasing the amount of face-to-face meetings during the ICANN meetings. Appropriate preparation of written materials prior to face-to-face meetings is important. The GNSO Council seeks to achieve a balance between policy development work and other events during ICANN meetings, and the cost and time involved for participants to attend for a longer period of time. Recommendation 8: ICANN should move to put in place a high calibre staff policy support person at the earliest possible opportunity. Council response: The Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 9: The Chair of the GNSO Council and VP Supporting Organizations should oversee an effective handover from the current staff support person to ensure that lessons learnt over the past year are not lost. Council response: The Council will work with the VP Supporting Organisations regarding managing the induction and orientation process for the new staff members. Recommendation 10: The Chair of the GNSO Council and the VP Supporting Organizations should establish a service level agreement between the GNSO Council and ICANN management that specifies the amount and type of support that is to be provided. Where possible, this should include measures (eg turnaround times for legal opinion, delivery of reports by agreed dates, minutes posted within a certain number of days). The Chair should consult the Council to ensure the targets meet the needs of the Council and its taskforces. The VP Supporting Organizations and Chair of GNSO Council should meet quarterly to review performance measures and report these to the President. Council response: The Council will work with the VP Supporting Organisations to establish clear expectations regarding staff support. Recommendation 11: The Council should work with the ICANN General Counsel to establish clear communication channels for the request for and provision of legal opinion. At a minimum this should include detailed legal input at the scoping phase of each PDP. Wherever possible, "check points" for further legal input should be established as part of the scoping study. Council response: The Council will work with the VP Supporting Organisations regarding managing the interface to the legal resources of ICANN. Recommendation 12: The Council needs to ensure the viability of implementation of each of the policy recommendations that it makes to the Board. Council response: The Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 13: ICANN needs to put in place a compliance function to monitor compliance with policies. Council response: The Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 14: The Council needs to work with ICANN operational staff to develop a compliance policy with graded penalties. Council response: The Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 15: Council needs to have a built in review of the effectiveness of policies in the policy recommendations that it makes to the Board Council response: The Council agrees with this recommendation. In recent policies such as transfers, the Council has built in formalised reviews of the effectiveness of the policy. Recommendation 16: The GNSO Council should utilize the Ombudsman and any reports produced by the Ombudsman as source of systematic analysis of complaints and therefore of issues that may need to be addressed through the PDP. Council response: The GNSO Council believes that reports from both the independent Ombudsman as well as the operational ICANN staff are important for analysing complaints and the effectiveness of new policies. Recommendation 17: The Council should continue to explore ways in which the Nominating Committee members can add value to the Council process. Council response: The GNSO Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 18: The Council should draft "role descriptions" for the Nominating Committee which describe the skills, expertise (especially technical expertise) and attributes that are needed for the Nominating Committee members to be optimally effective members of the Council. Council response: The GNSO Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 19: The Council is working well with three representatives from each constituency. No one who is involved with the Council perceives that having three representatives hinders the workings of the Council. The Board should change the bylaws to put in place three representatives from each constituency. Council response: The GNSO Council agrees with this recommendation. Recommendation 20: The GNSO Council should overhaul the website so that it better meets the needs of all who are interested in the work of the GNSO. Council response: The GNSO Council will help provide requirements and suggestions to ICANN staff for website design.