We all know that ICANN spends a small fortune commissioning outside consultants to review TLD applications (makes you wonder what the large fortune spent on the staff is good for). I had thought the consultants were, like so many consultants, housebroken, and just gave the advice the client wanted to hear. That's how it so often works in the world. But here's the amazing thing: not all the consultants were totally housebroken after all. Sometimes the consultants gave advice the staff didn't like. They didn't want to reward all the insiders all the time. But when ICANN doesn't like the consultants' advice, it blithely ignores them, as it did in .travel. Since all important ICANN Board meetings are secret, no one ever knew, until the news slipped out in Vancouver.
Meanwhile ICANN has ratched up the secrecy one more level: it has secret press conferences. ICANNWatch.org has asked repeatedly to be on the ICANN press mailing list, but we don't get notice of them. (We did for a short period; then it stopped.) Nor either do working journalists present at ICANN's meetings if ICANN thinks them unfriendly. Even dictatorships and, in the day, communist countries were more open than that.
Read all the details, and more about the continuing total failure to embrace any sort of process decency, much less process values, in Edward Hasbrouck's blog entry. Mr. Hasbrouck has been waiting for a hearing on his Independent Review Panel (IRP) request for many months. The ICANN staff has been stalling and stalling ("lost" his emails; were "under the impression" -- for no reason other than wishful thinking -- he'd abandoned his claim). It all has the look of cover-up, and the consultant's report likely was part of what was being hidden.
Note that if the report had been public, ICANN would have avoided making a bad decision. It might also have earned a little respect for hiring outside experts with a little backbone. Now, instead, it looks again like honest advice is the last thing ICANN wants to hear...