[CCWG-ACCT] Staff accountability

David Cake dave at difference.com.au
Mon Jul 20 05:02:01 UTC 2015

> On 18 Jul 2015, at 2:38 am, Kieren McCarthy <kieren at kierenmccarthy.com> 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?

	Frankly, the same could be said of most ICANN accountability measures. It is the hope of this entire CCWG process that with sufficient leverage, we have a historic opportunity to make some of them far more effective than they were in the past.
> 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.
> 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 ICANN.

	I said ‘strengthened’. I would assume both of these issues can be significantly mitigated by changes to the role - particularly, rewriting of the agreement with the ombudsman if it weakens the office, and some process for increasing resources of the office when/if required. But the extent to which such changes might be effective can be discussed in the WS2 work on the ombudsmans role.

	I do think that there are issues where there is a need for someone who has the authority to see documents that may have legitimate grounds to be considered confidential (personnel records, security issues, etc) and make judgements as to what information should be released, and that person needs to be very familiar with ICANN in order to perform the role effectively. There absolutely are some legitimate reasons for information to remain confidential, and I think an external enquiry model is likely to make that problem worse (in the sense of leading to escalating legal obstruction from ICANN legal to every request) not better.

	An ongoing Independent Inspector General role or similar would seem to be an interesting alternative - but my original point was that such a role would have large overlap with the Ombudsmans existing role, and it might be far more practical to fix an existing role rather than add a new one.


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