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RE: President's Strategy Committee Consultations - 19 March 2007

  • To: psc@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: RE: President's Strategy Committee Consultations - 19 March 2007
  • From: mark@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 20:10:04 -0700

Ah, the miracle of technology!  Just as Paul turned to me on the call, my
phone went dead here in Prague.  I apologize and hope that a few short notes
via email could be sent to the members of my committee in lieu of the
comments I had prepared for the call.  May I ask that, if you deem it
fitting, these notes be shared with the committee and panel participants as
a view of what I would have said were I still on the call?


I'm afraid that I would have been amongst the chorus singing many of the
same songs about transparency and openness in ICANN.  Part of building and
improving the trust model for ICANN is clearly related to the perception
that more than is necessary happens within ICANN in opaque ways.


That much said, the committee's report requires an important component in my
view - the need to clearly establish well defined problem statements when
addressing structural changes to the organization.  Having been a part of
the organization from the beginning and a sometime willing participant in
the early reform processes, one of the things that is evident is that, when
there are no clearly established goals for structural changes, there can be
no metrics for deciding if those changes were effective.  Making changes to
the structural organization of ICANN should only be done in the context of
clear and well-articulated statements of intent.  Those statements need to
be able to be quantified in meaningful way, so that the CED, board and broad
community can judge the relative success of structural change.


In any recommendation that the committee makes, I hope that a clear
statement of what the changes are intended to achieve is presented.  I also
hope that the committee makes clear statements on the weaknesses that the
changes are intended to address.  


I would also hope that the committee were more concrete in its
recommendations.  Rather than a set of options under broad headings, I would
hope that the committee could prepare a white paper with actual
recommendations that could be shared for comment with the community.  Such a
white paper might provide background on the problems the committee
considered, the options they thought about to address them, and the
rationale for the recommendations they have been made.  While I know this
might stretch the committee a bit, it also makes the committee's work
transparent in an important way.


While I was on the call I heard no comments regarding Root Zone
Transparency.  As an ISP and an individual in the connectivity industry I
can only say that the public face of IANA's work in this area has improved
dramatically.  In fact, I would say to the committee that the transformation
and success of IANA in the last 12 months is one of the great recent success
stories in ICANN.  At the current point, the problems with Root Zone
Transparency are primarily political and not technical.  It would not shock
any of the committee if I said that politics and technical coordination are
not and cannot be separated - even in IANA.  With that in mind, I ask the
committee to carefully consider its statement about simple changes within
the IANA.  Recent experience suggests that even minor administrative changes
may have substantial political import.  To suggest that the eIANA would
further transform the root zone landscape may be optimistic.  Politics may
always be a part of even the most trivial changes in the root zone - we need
to ask ourselves how best to live with that situation, not how to change it.


I welcome the news that the Board has a timetable for reviews, but I believe
that the committee should suggest prioritization of those reviews in a
manner that is consistent with the by-laws.  No person would suggest that
the reviews of all parts of ICANN are essential to its ongoing improvement
and transparency.  However, it is also clear that some parts of the
organization would benefit from review - and natural improvement - sooner
than others.  I think the committee should consider this prioritization as
part of its commitment to ongoing accountability: a way to respond to
clearly identified changes in scope, mission or organization of specific
parts of ICANN's many supporting organizations and committees.


The committee also suggests that work should move forward on establishing a
clear typology of participants in ICANN.  This may be a dangerous process if
not entered into with understanding.  Many people play a variety of roles in
ICANN - at the same time.  I'd suggest that many members of the committee
are in this category.  If asked to name only one role that that played in
ICANN, I'm sure that several committee members would openly revolt!
Instead, we need to recognize that participation is diverse and that people
and organizations who use the Internet have diverse needs and interests.  It
is hardly likely that participation in ICANN can be divided into a taxonomy
and it is not clear what problem would be solved if it could.  I strongly
suggest the committee reconsider the language of this part of its draft.


I'd like to support the concept of improving the accountability of the board
by having a larger number of the board member elected rather than appointed.
I've been on both sides: the NomCom and in the gNSO and ASO.  While the
process is uniformly messy and ungainly, the results appear to have been
better when the messy process of public discussion and transparent
participation is used.


Again, my thanks for including me and my apologies for having technology
desert me at the very moment Paul asked me to speak.  I hope these notes
assist the committee in some small way as it moves forward.


Mark McFadden

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