[CCWG-ACCT] Staff accountability

Avri Doria avri at acm.org
Fri Jul 17 19:44:25 UTC 2015


On 17-Jul-15 20:38, Kieren McCarthy wrote:
> > some personnel issues should remain confidential, 
> I don't understand why people keep putting this strawman out there. No
> one is suggesting, or indeed has ever suggested, that personnel issues
> be included in a proper accountability mechanism.


> > Why would a strengthened ombudsman not be a good fit for this role?
> I'll give you three good reasons:
> 1. The Ombudsman was created in 2004. Despite numerous efforts to make
> the role effective, it has never happened. Why keep making the same
> mistake?

Previous failure is not a mistake.
I believe we can succeed at doing this.

And the Ombudsman can get access to any information.  It is uncertain
how much he can do with it at this point, but at least someone who is
trusted can look and can give testimony about the validity of redactions.

Sure I would like to see ICANN live of to ATRT obligations,  take on CSR
seriously, have reasonable RR and stronger independent reviews and
audits &c., but we should not give up the partial successes because they
are not right yet.  WS2 will focus on strengthening the ombudsman role
and I think we can do it.

> 2. The Ombudsman is completely reliant on ICANN corporate. For access
> to people and documents, for resources, for salary, for technical
> support, for logistical support, for an office, for a room at ICANN
> meetings, for everything except his own body. And his role and what he
> can do is determined by ICANN's legal department in the rules that
> they wrote. The Ombudsman also signs a very strong confidentiality
> agreement with ICANN that effectively ties their hands on everything
> except illegal activity. See point 1.

Ombudsman in general are paid for by the company they work for.  And
they often still have strong independence.  Some even have power to fix
things.  We should fix the aspects of the ombudsman support that need to
be fixed, we should not give up.

See response to point 1.

> 3. An Ombudsman is a single person. And one completely reliant on
> ICANN. This provides an enormous degree of control by ICANN and very
> little freedom for the accountability role the Ombusdsman is supposed
> to fulfill. There are numerous people able to testify that ICANN
> corporate has no hesitation in applying significant pressure on
> individuals if they act in a way that it deemed a potential threat.
> All of those people are however under confidentiality agreements with

Actually we have an Ombudsman's office with 2 people in it.

It either needs to be fixed or we need to walk away from ICANN.  Some of
us have done so and are probably making a good living picking on ICANN,
and some of us are thinking of walking away just to make a living
(volunteering is a difficult vocation).  But those who do stay need  to
keep trying to fix it for as long as they do stay.  And new people come
to the effort all the time, determined to succeed where we fail.

For anyone who says ICANN never improves, I ask them to think back to a
decade ago and compare.  Problems there still are, but it is nowhere
near as bad as it once was. Could be a lot better, but also could be a
lot worse.

> The only way to bring actual accountability to ICANN is to have people
> that are not dependent on ICANN and are not muzzled by confidentiality
> agreements asking the questions.

True they are necessary.  But they are only one part of the story.  They
need internal allies.
And it is my impression that though not as effective as he could have
been due to conditions you describe, the ombudsman has helped in many
cases.  And does as much as possible to support the people who need help.

> And those people are... the 2,000 people that turn up to ICANN
> meetings. The community.

Actually aren't most of them there to wheel and deal? 
Only hundreds go to meetings dedicated to doing the policy stuff.

And they need the support of a strong ombudsman office.
and a CSR officer, and ...

That is what this process is all about.


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