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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    ICANN Staff and Structure Nomcomm Bell Tolls - For Thee?
    posted by Mueller on Sunday April 20 2003, @04:10PM

    The crux of ICANN 2.0 is the Nominating Committee - better known as "NomComm." Nomcomm replaces democratic elections for half the ICANN Board with selection by a committee that is dominated by, but not completely subordinate to, members appointed by the existing ICANN Board. The committee composition is a blend of the Board self-selection sought by ISOC and ICANN old-timers and a more representative process. But it's still a long ways from being an open membership with elections.

    In ICANN's new structure, Nomcomm is quite powerful. It selects 8 Board members, puts 3 members on the GNSO Council, and appoints 5 members to the At Large Advisory Committee. It will make its initial round of selections in time for the Montreal meeting.

    Nomcomm is now calling for recommendations for Board members and the other positions. Somewhat surprisingly, given all the fierce battles that have been fought over ICANN politics, the response has been less than enthusiastic. Has cynicism about ICANN grown to the point where people don't really care who runs it, or is everyone just exhausted? Or do people just not understand that this is happening?

    If one adopts the cynicism interpretation, how the current Nomcomm performs its duties will be critical to building legitimacy.

    It will take some time to see how Nomcomm politics work out. It took about a year, for example, for the old DNSO Names Council to become dominated by an axis consisting of the Business & Commercial constituency, the Intellectual Property Constituency, and the ISP semi-constituency (all three of which have great overlap, consisting of trademark lawyers and a few big multinational telephone companies with major brand names to protect).

    But the old DNSO was deliberately constructed to bias the results; it is not clear that the NomComm was so biased, except insofar as it gives sitting Board members (more precisely, whatever faction currently dominates the Board) a disproportionate amount of power. The Nomcomm's initial membership is fairly balanced, and their increasingly plaintive calls for participation indicate that they realize that this time, ICANN's credibility - and perhaps its future - really is on the line.

    One simple way for Nomcomm to boost confidence and raise the level of interest in its process is to let the involved community see who is being nominated as the nominations are made. As far as this writer can tell, no such postings are made.

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  • initial membership
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    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Nomcomm Bell Tolls - For Thee? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 13 comments | Search Discussion
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    by vbertola on Monday April 21 2003, @12:56AM (#11508)
    User #3435 Info | http://bertola.eu.org/
    Personally, I absolutely support the idea that the list of candidates under consideration should be public, and this is something that I and other members of the ALAC have been telling to several NomCom members in the last weeks. However, it seems that the NomCom's current decision is to not publish it, to increase chances of participation by well known people who might not like the idea of being discarded publicly. This is understandable, and yet I think that, given the very characteristics of this process, there is the need for absolute transparency, so I hope that in the future the details on process and nominations will be made public.

    --vb. (Vittorio Bertola)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
    Let's stop the euphemisms...
    by KarlAuerbach on Monday April 21 2003, @12:08PM (#11510)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    Let's stop the euphemisms and begin calling it what it is, the "Appointing Committee". The word "nominate" implies that there is another step in the process to transform "nominees" into sitting board members. There is no such step, the "nominating" committee does not nominate, it appoints.

    Beyond that - the job description put forth my the appointments commitee woefully understates the amount of work that it takes to be an informed (as apposed to a mindless rubber-stamp) board member. I figure that it takes 30 to 60 hours a week to keep up with what ICANN's staff is doing and to maintain contact with the Internet community. With the number going up to about 168 hours per week during the time of a "public" board meeting.

    And the appointments committee does not inform applicants of the potential significant, indeed, huge, personal liability risks that come from being on the board of a non-profit corporation. That is why I strongly urge any potential candidate to seek advice from their personal legal advisor(s).

    I figure that being on the ICANN board has cost me perhaps $10,000 to $20,000 yearly in direct costs and at least several hundred thousands in lost opportunity costs. (At least one other director has put the cost at about $300,000/year in lost income. I find that number highly credible.)

    The Internet is far too important for the public interest to be represented through a part-time board of directors who do not have the time to form their own truly independent judgements and who do not have the information gathering and analysis resources to avoid having to slavishly accept the recommendations of ICANN's so-called "staff".

    The appointment committee tends to portray the job of an ICANN director as a kind of friendly collegial body in which the job is to occassionally peek at "staff" and provide a few gentle nudges of guidence.

    That is a misstatement of what a Board of Directors is. Instead, a Board is a place where alternative views are to be aired and resolved, even if that means that there is open disagreement and dispute. But for there to be a valid debate on the board, the individual directors must each be aware of the issues and not be utterly dependent on "staff" for information and analysis.

    Thus I believe that we ought to consider whether ICANN should pay a meaningful director's fee so that directors can afford to spend at least a few days a week on ICANN matters. Alternatively ICANN ought to provide directors with funds for each director to hire his/her own staffer.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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