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Public Comment on ICANN AoC and Organisational Reviews - Westlake Governance Limited

  • To: comments-proposed-aoc-org-reviews-process-15may15@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Public Comment on ICANN AoC and Organisational Reviews - Westlake Governance Limited
  • From: Richard G A Westlake <richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2015 08:31:26 +1200

On behalf of Westlake Governance Limited, we appreciate the opportunity to 
submit public comments to the Review Working Party. We make our comments from 
the perspective of an organisation that ICANN has engaged as the Independent 
Examiner on three Organisational Reviews. Hence, in contrast to most of the 
views being expressed, our perspective is from the outside (of ICANN), inwards.

1.      Background

Westlake Governance is the Independent Examiner contracted to ICANN for the 
current Review of the GNSO. We have previously worked with ICANN on several 
occasions, among which we were the Independent Examiner for earlier Reviews of 
the ALAC (2007-2008) and the RSSAC (2008-2009), so our comments are derived 
from our experience over several years.

We provide these comments to reinforce and complement Richard Westlake's verbal 
comment during the Public Session held at ICANN53 on 24 June 2015.

We have been involved only with ICANN’s Organisational Reviews, as mandated in 
its By-laws, so our comments relate specifically to these Reviews and not to 
reviews conducted under the AoC.

2.      Support for comments from the GNSO Review Working Party

To avoid the need for repetition, we endorse the comments submitted by Jen 
Wolfe, Chair of the GNSO Review Working Party. We agree in particular that the 
extensions of time for the GNSO Review, made at the request of the community, 
have allowed for a better outcome and end result. We recommend that additional 
time be built into the programme for future reviews, to allow in particular for 
adequate consideration of draft findings and the first draft report.

We also acknowledge the heavy workload imposed on the volunteers who undertake 
the work on behalf of their communities. We consider it is essential that the 
timetable should take this into consideration and should strive not to put 
undue demands on their time (including allowance for traditional holiday 
periods - July/August, December/January) - recognising also that many 
volunteers may be working on several projects and/or Working Groups or Working 
Parties, at the same time.

3.      Review Methodology

We understand and acknowledge the desire to standardise the process for 
Organisational Reviews as far as practicable. The key method for collecting 
information is intended to be the "360 Survey,” as used in the GNSO Review. The 
draft question set for the Survey was produced by members of the GNSO Review 
Working Party, and it was refined in discussions between the Working Party and 
the Independent Examiner. The Survey generated in total about 250 responses, of 
which about 150 could be regarded as complete, so we obtained much valuable 
information and comment. 

We consider, however, that this process has a logical flaw and some limitations:

i.      In our view the basis for the question set in the 360 suffered from 
being drafted largely by people who are already heavily involved in the GNSO’s 
activities - ‘insiders'. They provided the questions that they considered 
appropriate. However, as the Review progressed, many of the key issues related 
to concerns of ‘outsiders’ - people who were not currently involved, but who 
wished to be and who perceived significant barriers to effective participation. 
Several of these issues emerged fully only as we conducted our ‘limited 
interviews’ after the 360 had been finalised. To develop a more relevant 
questions set for the 360, we believe that, in addition to questions developed 
by the Review Working Party, a limited number of interviews or small focus 
group meetings should be conducted, by the Independent Examiner, before the 
questions for the 360 are finalised.

ii.     The 360 resulted in large amounts of data, but it should be 
acknowledged that, even with up to 150 responses, exclusively in English (from 
a large global community of indeterminate size), the results cannot be 
considered statistically valid in a quantitative sense. Rather, they provide 
qualitative guidance about the questions they answer. The responses also help 
to indicate whether there is a significant range of views on an issue, or 
whether most of the responses are consistent. In our view it would be wrong to 
seek (or claim) statistical validity, because no ICANN review to date has 
generated a larger number of responses, and we consider that significantly more 
responses would be required before they could validly claim any quantitative 

4.      Overview Comment

We note that ICANN’s By-laws require reviews of the individual components of 
ICANN. However, to our knowledge, there has never been a comparable 
Organisational Review of ICANN as a whole. Since ICANN’s operations have 
evolved significantly in the last decade, and usage of the Internet has also 
changed dramatically over that time, we would recommend that at some stage in 
the relatively near future (but, we would suggest, after the IANA Stewardship 
Transfer Project has concluded), such a review, which would incorporate ICANN 
as a whole with its component parts, might generate valuable strategic insights 
into how it might adapt to remain relevant and fit for its purpose over the 
next decade and beyond. 

The current review system results largely in an ICANN that is the sum of 
several well-reviewed parts, with no comprehensive examination of the whole.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments.

Richard Westlake
For and on behalf of 
Westlake Governance Limited.

2 July 2015

Richard G A Westlake
Westlake Governance 

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