ICANN Reform Committee on Board selection
Date: Friday May 10 2002, @05:03AM
Topic: Board of Directors
jamielove writes "The May 9, 2002 Committee on ICANN Evolution and Reform
Working Paper on the
ICANN Structure and the Nominating Committee Concept is out, and it is an
important document, particularly if taken together with the working papers
policy making process.
The Committee wants a process that produces a board
"composed of persons with diverse skills and perspectives and the right
personalities, that can act collegially and effectively to make decisions."
Selected groups would be allowed to participate in a board managed
process, where the nominees would possibly be ultimated choosen by
the board itself. The Committee notes: "while it is hard to imagine what
entity other than
the Board could reasonably ratify nominees, we welcome suggestions or
comments on whether ratification of
NomCom selections is desirable, and if so by what entity and under what
Below are the CPTech comments. Jamie
CPTech comments Regarding ICANN Structure and and Nominating Committee Concept.
- What are you mixing up is both the nomination and the election process.
The term "nominatng committee" is misleading if the committee nominates and
- I find it completely wrong to have the board members having any say over
who gets elected to the board. Here is just one reason. Suppose it is
well known that the only way to get on the board, is to be selected by the
board itself. Suppose then you have a choice of speaking out in favor of
something the board is doing or opposed to what the board is doing. What
are the odds you would ever be elected to the board if you criticized the
board? Ok, where does this dynamic lead?
- Every member of the board should be elected by non-board members, no
matter who they are. This should be basic. This is not like a family
trust, foundation or other non-profit organization that is run by self
perpetuating boards, it seems to me. If Bill Gates wants to put up his own
money to advance some charitable purpose, he gets to set up a self
perpetuating board. If ICANNWatch, CDT, EPIC, EFF, CPTech or anyone else
wants to create a self perpetuating board, that's fine too, this a basic
right of association. But it isn't the right model for something that
wants to be a global Internet regulator.
- If the ICANN BOD wants authority, it has to give up control over the
election of its members to others, who have some creditable basis for doing
so. The process should not be designed to produce a board of persons who
will not be critical or will not dissent.
- I'd rather have SOs electing board members, including SOs that represent
user interests, than having the board elect itself. There may be other
ways of doing things too.
- Has the reform committee decided to junk the at large membership voting
idea? I just want to have some clarity on this, since I was just elected to
some panel to organize such an at large membership (coming out of the ALSC
process and the go forth and multiply Accra thing).
- How about things like term limit or rotating chairs, to reduce the
danger of empire building?
- Who elects the board is closely related to what powers the board will
have. If it can do literally anything in the name of Internet stability,
then you need an election process that is quite representative of the
public. If it coordinates six technical tasks and that is the end of its
authority, then maybe all sorts of less representative structures are
II. The Nominating Committee Concept
The Lynn proposal suggested a fifteen-person Board, with five ex officio and
ten At Large members - with five of the At Large members to be selected,
somehow, by governments. The rationale was two-fold: (1) a less directly
representational Board would likely be a better Board in the long run, and
(2) the government-selected At Large trustees would provide a voice for the
general public interest, and thus respond to the accountability/legitimacy
issues that generated much of the motivation for At Large online voting. The
Lynn proposal further suggested that the five At Large trustees not selected
by governments (and about half of each Policy Council Steering Committee) be
selected by a Nominating Committee (NomCom) made up of three Board members
and four other persons selected by the Board.
As indicated earlier in this paper, for purposes of this discussion we
assume that governments will select no Board members in the relevant time
frame. Thus, the NomCom on this assumption would be responsible for filling
vacancies in the ten At Large Board seats, not just five as suggested in the
A. The Rationale for a Nominating Committee
The major criticism of the NomCom idea to date has been that, since it was
made up of Board members and Board appointees, it was too controlled by the
Board, and thus formed a "closed circle" that was too self-reproducing,
preventing needed renewal, corrections, and adjustments as the Internet
evolves. This criticism appears to the Committee to have some merit, and
thus we solicit comment on a modification designed to respond to that
criticism while retaining the perceived benefits of a NomCom process.
We would like to solicit comments on the following concept: a NomCom
consisting of delegates from identified constituencies (possible examples
would be such groups as registries, registrars, RIRs, large business users,
consumer organizations, academic or other non-commercial organizations,
etc.) Such a NomCom might have a non-voting chair appointed by the Board
(possibly a Board member, possibly not), and it might also include one or
more liaisons (IAB, GAC, etc.) that could either have voting rights or not.
These could serve to provide insights about particular needs on either the
Board or a Policy Council Steering Committee, and about the strengths or
weaknesses of particular people being considered based on prior knowledge or
experience. Another way to accomplish this goal is to have some ex officio
members (voting or non-voting) on the NomCom from the Board.
We use the word "delegate" intentionally. For ICANN to be the most effective
organization it can be, its Board should be as neutral and objective, and as
capable, as is possible under the circumstances. We do not believe that a
Board composed primarily of representatives of specific interested groups is
the best way to reach this goal. By contrast, we believe that a Board
composed of persons with diverse skills and perspectives and the right
personalities, that can act collegially and effectively to make decisions
that are grounded in the best interests of the overall communities affected
would serve both the public interest and the long-term interest of all
direct participants in ICANN. This view suggests that on the NomCom, the
general public interest could be represented by those delegates selected by
consumer organizations and user groups, while the providers would also
supply delegates to the NomCom. We do believe it is both appropriate and
useful to have those constituencies that are directly and consistently
involved in ICANN to have an important role in the selection of Board
members, but we respectfully suggest that it is more consistent with the
goal - a consistently high-quality, effective Board - that all constituency
representatives on the NomCom (whether from providers, consumer groups, or
users) think of themselves as "delegates," not as "representatives" - in
other words, as bringing a particular perspective and knowledge to the joint
process of selecting good ICANN Board members, rather than "representing"
the narrow interests of the particular constituency that brought them to the
This is not, in our view, metaphysical semantics. The only way that an
ICANN-type entity can be effective is if it advances the common good. Now,
this is of course a composite of the legitimate interests of all
participants (as well as non-participants), but it may in any particular
case not directly reflect any one of those interests. What is needed in
ICANN, not only at the Board level but also in the policy-development
bodies, is less political log-rolling and more genuine efforts to find
consensus solutions. This effort will be advanced if we establish a culture
and tradition of looking for the common good of the community, even if this
occurs through the perspective of a particular interested party or group.
B. Specific Issues on Which Comments are Invited
Q24. Comments Requested: We invite comments on this general
articulation of the NomCom concept. This approach basically seeks to move
from a Board made up of representatives to a Board made up of capable,
interested, effective persons, who may or may not have a direct involvement
in the day-to-day activities of those entities most involved in ICANN. We
seek to accomplish that by pushing direct representation away from the Board
itself to the body that selects a majority of the Board, creating a buffer
(the representational NomCom) between particular interest groups or
constituencies and the Board itself.
Q25. Comments Requested: We also invite comment on the specific
identities of the groups or constituencies that should be represented on
such a NomCom, in addition to the question of whether and how new groups or
constituencies would be allowed to gain participation on the NomCom.
Q26. Comments Requested: We also invite comment on exactly how the
NomCom would function. We envision that that particular self-organized
groups (whether called forums or constituencies or some other name), as well
as the general public, could recommend persons to the NomCom, which would
then through a process of discussion and debate generate nominations that
had broad consensus support throughout the community.
Q27. Comments Requested: Another point on which we solicit comment is
whether NomCom members should be prohibited from themselves being nominated
for at least their tenure on the NomCom and perhaps for a short period
afterwards. This would reduce fears of self-dealing, but potentially at the
price of diminishing the available pool of candidates.
Q28. Comments Requested: Another issue on which we solicit comments is
whether, and if so what, particular criteria or standards should apply to
the process by which the NomCom makes selections. In the ICANN context,
these could include (at least for the Board and probably for the Steering
Committees as well) geographic diversity, functional diversity, etc. Such
standards should probably be measured in the aggregate, not for any
particular opening, so that some but not necessarily all would be relevant
to any given nomination cycle. In addition, there could be specific
perceived needs in any given cycle, either for the Board or for a particular
Steering Committee, that could be communicated to the NomCom by the Board,
perhaps through the non-voting Chair, and/or decided by the NomCom itself,
based on inputs from its members and/or any liaisons. Any comments on these
ideas are welcome.
Q29. Comments Requested: There is also the issue of whether the Board
should be permitted to reject a nominee or a slate of nominees, and if so
whether that should require a super-majority vote of some kind. While it is
hard to imagine what entity other than the Board could reasonably ratify
nominees, we welcome suggestions or comments on whether ratification of
NomCom selections is desirable, and if so by what entity and under what
Q30. Comments Requested: We also invite comments on the terms of
NomCom members. Assuming an appropriate transition and staggered terms, the
NomCom in any given year would likely select 3-4 Trustees and 1-2 members of
each Steering Committee. This seems a manageable task. Should each NomCom
exist for a one-year or two-year cycle, and then be reconstituted with
different members, or is there some value to continuity? If it was thought
necessary to provide continuity, members could serve with staggered terms,
so some portion were replaced each year. This may not be necessary if there
are sufficient liaisons and/or ex officio members. Would the formation of
new NomComs each year appropriately balance the need for renewal and
inclusiveness with the need for continuity and stability? Can the NomCom and
its make-up be isolated from cumbersome and ultimately
effectiveness-reducing politics? To what extent would a NomCom procedure
isolate the Board from such politics? Comments are welcome.
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