[CCWG-ACCT] An important reminder from the past

Kieren McCarthy kieren at kierenmccarthy.com
Thu Jul 9 00:18:33 UTC 2015

I was reminded of a piece of ICANN history the other day and felt it might
be useful to share.

When ICANN did its last big self-review in 2000-2002 after an enormous
amount of discussion and back-and-forth and high-level review, the
community decided there needed to be a dedicated person to make sure that
it was easy for people to get involved in ICANN and to be the point person
for input from the community.

This was deemed so important that it was written into the bylaws: a similar
idea to the 'fundamental bylaws' we are looking at now.

In order to make sure the role was given the proper weight, the role would
report direct to the president.

The role of "manager of public participation" was clearly and deliberately
described and it had the full backing of the community following a long
consultation process. This was December 2002.

It is still in the bylaws - see
https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/governance/bylaws-en/#III, section 3.

However, once the pressure was off, ICANN the corporation simply ignored
the role.

Someone was hired to do corporate communications because of the United
Nations' WSIS process - in February 2004 - and the "participation" element
was added to the job title.

Kieran Baker became "General manager, communications and public
participation". The "communications" part was 95 per cent of the job.

When Baker left, ICANN hired a VP of corporate affairs and only then hired
someone specifically for its bylaws role of "manager of public
participation". That was me and it was December 2006 - four years after the
community added the role.

On taking that role, it was made plain to me by both senior management and
Board members that despite the job description being in the bylaws, things
had evolved and the job provided no authority over communication, or
participation, or the website.

My point in highlighting this piece of history is that despite:

* Community agreement after a long review
* The result of that review being added to the bylaws
* A very clear description having been produced

ICANN corporate was able to simply ignore and then repurpose the role.

The "general manager" of public participation became "senior director" and
then "senior director of participation and engagement".

There hasn't been anyone in the role since Filiz Yilmaz left in December

So, when considering what accountability changes need to be made to ICANN
in 2015, please don't be fooled into believing that just because:

* You describe things clearly
* You reach agreement
* You add it to the bylaws

That it will actually happen. If anything, reaching agreement on what needs
to be done is literally half the job.

The other half is making sure that it is actually implemented and
implemented in the right way while the pressure is still on ICANN.

Otherwise the first time something that you agree on now may end up being
addd to ICANN could be 2020. And only then in a way that ICANN corporate
wants it to be.

I hope this serves as a useful reminder.

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