[atrt2] Question about the role of AOC Review Teams within ICANN

Steve Crocker steve at shinkuro.com
Thu Apr 25 02:59:33 UTC 2013

Alan, Avri, et al,

At some point I will try to write a longer paper with my view about the role of advice to ICANN covering all of the different sources of advice, i.e. AoC reviews, Advisory Committees, various ad hoc expert committees, etc.

In brief, there are two key points.

First, we always take advice seriously.  We recognize that each group takes its role seriously, brings a lot of expertise to the process, and works very hard.  Under no circumstances do we *ignore* advice.  Per the next point, however, we do go through a decision process related to *all* advice.  Regarding the source of the advice, yes, there is a somewhat stronger onus and considerably more process involved regarding advice from the GAC, and I would say that advice from the AoC review teams is given essentially the same weight.  In general, our preference is to accept advice, but the decision whether to accept the advice is necessarily up to the Board.  (Another absolutely important source of "advice" are the policies recommended by the SOs.)

Second, the Board has to go through a diligence process whenever we receive advice.  For me, there are three questions we have to answer.   Sometime the process is implicit and immediate; in other cases the process is more explicit.

1. Is the advice clear enough to understand what's being recommended?

2. What resources will be required and who will be responsible for implementation if we accept the advice?

3. Last, and certainly not least, is the advice relevant and appropriate?

There is obviously a lot of judgment in each of these questions, and there aren't any hard and fast rules.  No advisory body has absolute authority, and, at the same time, the Board has a very strong obligation to document and explain its decisions.

In the case of the recommendations from the Whois Review Team, we tried to accept the advice but felt some modifications were required in light of the three questions above.


On Apr 25, 2013, at 5:56 AM, Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca> wrote:

> My answers are generally in line with David's. RTs issue 
> "recommendations" and the AoC requires the Board to "take action". 
> Within that scope, I believe there is wriggle room for the Board to 
> choose not to implement the intent or the letter of a recommendation, 
> but to do so should, at the very least, require a strong reason for 
> taking that decision.
> You make reference to RT recommendations being akin to those of 
> Advisory Committees. As you well know, there are several flavours of 
> ACs and they both currently and historically have been treated VERY 
> differently. I would like to think that the GAC model is closer to 
> what we should expect, than anything else. Our recommendations should 
> be honoured and if that is not to be, there should be both 
> explanation AND good-faith interaction both understand the issue (on 
> both sides) and see if there is any common ground that could be reached.
> Alan
> At 24/04/2013 10:32 AM, Avri Doria wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I hope this is on topic, and wanted to bring it up head-on because I 
>> am not sure that all have a similar understanding.
>> When I first read about the AOC I understood it to be a 'soft' 
>> oversight mechanism that was replacing, at least in part, the 
>> previous oversight mechanisms as had been part of the MOU and more 
>> directly of the previous contract with ICANN.  Of course direct 
>> oversight still exists of the IANA functions and of the Verisign 
>> operations on the root.  I found this new form of bottom-up 
>> multistakeholder oversight quite an exciting possibility and put a 
>> lot of faith in its potential.
>> While I understand that the full nature and practice of the new 
>> ICANN oversight mechanism is still unfolding and in some sense 
>> experimental as one of the first bottom up multistakeholder 
>> oversight mechanisms of its kind, I beleive the review teams are 
>> supposed to act as oversight to ICANN: Board, Paid Staff (including 
>> CEO and Senior Executives),  and Volunteer organizations.  Due to 
>> reputed California legal constraints regarding corporate fiduciary 
>> responsibilities of Board of Directors, it is only soft oversight in 
>> that its recommendations, especially with regard to financial 
>> fiduciary maters, are not legally binding despite the fact that they 
>> are normative recommendations.
>> As I interact with many in the community, including some senior 
>> staff members, I gather that my understanding does not match their 
>> understanding.  So I am wondering: do I have it wrong?
>> Do we in ATRT2 have the responsibility to see ourselves as part of 
>> an ongoing bottom-up multistakeholder oversight within the 
>> organization.  Can we look at the recommendations of the previous 
>> review teams as oversight mandates that must be respected and 
>> implemented.  Or does a prevailing impression I get from many on 
>> senior staff and some on the Board that these are recommendation 
>> that like the recommendations of Advisory Committees: only advisory 
>> and ignorable.
>> I think getting this straight within this group and between ATRT2 
>> and the Governing structure of the organization is critical to the 
>> judgements we need to make during the course of our work.   I 
>> beleive we, the collective members of the various review groups, are 
>> responsible for overseeing the organization we care about so 
>> much.  I do not have the impression that the powers that be in ICANN 
>> see it that way.
>> What do others think?
>> Do I have it completely wrong?
>> Are we just another advisory committee?
>> avri
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