|A Proposal to the Markle Foundation
for Grant Support of ICANN's At Large Membership and Election Program
21 October 1999
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers seeks grant support from the Markle Foundation in the amount of $200,000 for the initiation of its At Large Membership program. These funds will be used to (a) complete plans for the creation of the At Large membership component of ICANN, (b) engage staff to manage and implement the program for the next six months, (c) obtain necessary computer and network resources to support the membership database and applications, (d) provide administrative and logistic support for the At Large Membership Task Force, which will advise and assist ICANN with outreach, public awareness, and the creation of a broadly representative and diverse At Large membership, (e) prepare and distribute accessible informational materials to explain ICANN and educate potential members in several major languages, and (e) support the first phase of At Large membership elections.
A grant of $100,000 will afford ICANN the minimum financial support necessary to launch the At Large Membership and elections; a larger grant of $200,000 would allow ICANN to dedicate significantly greater resources toward outreach, member recruitment, and public awareness initiatives, such as well-designed and accessible educational materials in major non-English languages.
Although the Board of Directors places a high priority on the earliest possible creation of its At Large membership, ICANN does not at this time have the financial resources to begin the At Large membership program without external support. The corporation is currently in a transition period: up to the present, its initial operations have been funded by private contributions; in the future, its permanent funding base will come primarily from Internet registries and registrars. ICANN has incurred substantial debt during the 1998-99 startup period, and will not likely have any discretionary funds with which to support At Large membership for at least a year without the one-time support sought in this proposal. The requested grant funds will be used solely for incremental, direct expenses of the At Large membership program as described in Section VI below, which will not include any overhead or indirect costs of the corporation.
ICANN is organized as a California non-profit corporation and has applied to the Internal Revenue Service for recognition of its tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The significance of ICANN's At Large membership election process is enormous; accordingly, so are the risks of failure and the opportunities of success. The ICANN At Large elections will represent the first time in which every interested member of the global Internet community will have the opportunity to participate in the online election of Internet policymakers. A successful round of elections (i.e., elections that are free, fair, efficient, and globally representative) will help to establish the viability of effective self-regulation by the global Internet community. Failure in this process (i.e., elections marked by fraud, capture, or low participation) will likewise damage the future prospects for meaningful self-regulation. Providing crucial one-time support for the successful launch of the ICANN At Large membership and election process is thus consistent with the Markle Foundation's mission to promote democracy online.
In July, 1997, the Clinton Administration published an executive order calling for privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) and began an open and consultative policy development process which lead to the publication of a document entitled "Management of Internet Names and Addresses," commonly known as the White Paper, in June, 1998 [see <http://www.icann.org/general/white-paper-05jun98.htm>]. The White Paper stated the desire of the U.S. Government that a private, nonprofit corporation be formed to assume responsibility for the Domain Name and IP addressing systems and certain related functions, and called for proposals to be submitted to accomplish this goal.
A. White Paper Position on Representation in new DNS Corporation
With respect to representation, the White Paper stated,
"The new corporation should operate as a private entity for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole. The development of sound, fair, and widely accepted policies for the management of DNS will depend on input from the broad and growing community of Internet users. Management structures should reflect the functional and geographic diversity of the Internet and its users. Mechanisms should be established to ensure international participation in decision making."
Speaking further to actions to be taken by the Board of Directors of the new corporation, the White Paper proposed that the entity's organizational documents:
"2) direct the Interim Board to establish a system for electing a Board of Directors for the new corporation that insures that the new corporation's Board of Directors reflects the geographical and functional diversity of the Internet, and is sufficiently flexible to permit evolution to reflect changes in the constituency of Internet stakeholders. Nominations to the Board of Directors should preserve, as much as possible, the tradition of bottom-up governance of the Internet, and Board Members should be elected from membership or other associations open to all or through other mechanisms that ensure broad representation and participation in the election process."
B. Department of Commerce Requirement concerning ICANN Membership
Subsequently, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) recognized ICANN -- the corporation proposed by Dr. Jon Postel in September, 1998 -- in a Memorandum of Understanding/Joint Project Agreement dated November 25, 1998.
With regard to membership, the MOU specified that ICANN and DOC would,
"8. Collaborate on the design, development, and testing of appropriate membership mechanisms that foster accountability to and representation of the global and functional diversity of the Internet and its users, within the structure of the private-sector DNS management organization."
C. ICANN Membership Advisory Committee
The ICANN Bylaws provide for four organizational units having membership attributes. Three of the units are named "Supporting Organizations" (SO) and are designed to provide specific mechanisms for the participation of business and technical interests in the policy development and consensus mechanisms of ICANN. The fourth is an At Large membership designed to ensure adequate representation, on a worldwide basis, of the interests of all Internet users. Each SO names three ICANN Directors, while the At Large membership names nine, for a total of eighteen elected Directors and an ex officio voting Chief Executive Officer.
Consistent with both Internet tradition and the guidance of the White Paper, the ICANN Board has worked closely with the Internet community to support bottom-up and self-organizing efforts for all four of its membership entities. As of August, 1999, constituents of each of the Supporting Organizations had submitted and received approval of proposals for their creation and self-administration.
Seeking advice from the community on the complex issues associated with creation of an At Large membership, ICANN created a Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) in January, 1999, and asked for its recommendations on a range of membership policy and procedural issues. An interim report was given to the Board at its meeting in Singapore in March, 1999 and a final report was delivered at its meeting in Berlin, in May, 1999 (see <http://www.icann.org/committees/membership/commentary-26may99.htm>).
D. ICANN Board Actions to Create At Large Membership
By resolution at its Berlin meeting, the ICANN Board asked staff to review the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) report and commentary and make recommendations to the Board, for consideration at its Santiago, Chile, meeting in August, 1999, on an implementation plan that was responsive to the MAC's suggestions.
Also in Berlin, the Board adopted four general principles to guide the creation of an At Large membership for ICANN:
1. "Members" should be individuals, and only "members" should vote for At Large Directors.
2. The election process for At Large Directors should take place in stages, to allow for adjustments in the process based on experience.
3. At Large Directors should be geographically diverse and broadly representative of the Internet user community.
4. The costs of At Large membership should be borne by the At Large members.
Two staff reports on At Large membership were prepared for the Santiago meeting, one dealing with analysis and recommendations on an implementation plan, and the other dealing with legal questions concerning membership provisions in California nonprofit corporation statutes (see <http://www.icann.org/santiago/membership.htm>).
After considering the staff reports and hearing public comment, the Board took a series of actions on At Large membership at the recent Santiago meeting. Together with its Berlin resolutions and the recommendations of the MAC, these decisions establish the basic structure for an ICANN At Large Membership.
In addition, to give some sustainable momentum to the planning and implementation of a large and globally diverse membership, the ICANN Board authorized the creation of a Membership Implementation Task Force, whose members will initially focus on membership outreach.
After considering a range of issues affecting structure, the ICANN Directors have adopted an indirect representation mechanism in which an At Large membership of a minimum size of 5,000 individuals will elect an At Large Council composed of up to eighteen members. While ICANN will endeavor to attract a significantly larger membership, the 5,000-member minimum threshold constitutes a safeguard against the potential effects of a small and unrepresentative electorate.
As currently conceived, the At Large Council will in turn select nine individuals to become the At Large Directors of ICANN. (As with the other elements of the At Large membership and election process, the Board's decision on this point is subject to further input from the Internet community and the nine newly elected Directors from ICANN's supporting organizations). Up to ten members of the At Large Council will be elected from each of the five geographic regions into which ICANN is currently divided, with no two regional members coming from the same country. The remaining up to eight members will be elected from a single global pool of candidates, with no restrictions on geographic origin.
Balancing a desire to encourage wide participation in ICANN membership on a worldwide basis with the need to protect against election fraud, the minimum requirements for an individual to become an At Large member will be (a) completion of an online membership application, including a statement of a commitment to participate in ICANN's activities and to abide by ICANN's bylaws; (b) a working Internet email address; and (c) a single physical residence verified by a postal mail address.
The initial appointed At Large Directors of ICANN wish to proceed expeditiously with implementation of the At Large membership so that their elected successors may take office as soon as possible. However, translation of the membership structure that has been adopted by the Board into detailed plans and procedures that can operate faultlessly in a worldwide, interactive Internet environment requires significant staff and technical resources.
The membership implementation plan, which is being developed under the direction of interim President/CEO Mike Roberts, has six program elements, which will proceed in a parallel and coordinated manner.
(1) Identify a funding source sufficient to meet the minimum expenditure requirements of the initial phase of the At Large membership program. A minimum estimated budget of $100,000 has been adopted, which is described in the following section of this proposal.
(2) Engage staff to manage and implement the program for at least the next six months. A membership program manager position has been defined and created. A search for qualified applicants will begin as soon as funding is assured.
(3) Complete plans for the creation of an At Large membership component of ICANN. The membership program manager will be responsible for development of detailed plans, resource requirements and timing. The plan will be based on previous work by the MAC and ICANN staff, Board membership resolutions, and assistance from the new Membership Implementation Task Force.
(4) Obtain necessary computer and network resources to support the membership database and applications. The membership database and online server will be located at the ICANN administrative headquarters in Marina del Rey, California, using ICANN computer facilities and under the supervision of ICANN technical staff. Design, development, installation and testing of membership software and hardware will be contracted to a qualified technical services firm.
(5) Provide administrative and logistic support for the new Membership Implementation Task Force. The membership program manager will be primary liaison to the task force, whose intended functions include carrying out a worldwide outreach program to recruit At Large members, reviewing specifications for membership computer programs, assisting with organization of the At Large Council, providing independent oversight of the initial At Large Council election, and proposing a permanent funding mechanism for the At Large Membership.
Likewise, ICANN would welcome the assistance of the Markle Foundation in identifying one or more appropriate and interested third party organizations with experience and credibility in the area of election process design and oversight. Such an organization would provide (i) practical advice on, for example, rules for fair campaigning, minimizing fraud in online voter registration and balloting mechanisms, and increasing Internet community participation, and (ii) independent third party oversight, monitoring and verification of the election results.
(6) Specify, develop and test necessary interfaces, processes, and procedures and conduct the first At Large Council election. Depending on progress toward meeting the minimum At Large membership threshold requirement of 5000 individual members, the ICANN Board is expected to approve election procedures and set a date for the first election of members of the At Large Council at its first meeting in the year 2000, currently expected to be the first week in March. Prior to approving the election date, the membership staff, working with the task force, will have completed and tested the required computer programs and related fraud protection provisions of the election procedures.
In addition, the membership staff and Membership Implementation Task Force will be develop a fair and transparent process for online campaigning, including an election website with online forums and venues through which the candidates can communicate with the At Large Membership, and vice versa.
On a long term basis, the ICANN Board has determined that the At Large membership should fund its own costs of administration, as is the case with the three Supporting Organizations. However, initial funding is needed to create the membership and to support its first election of At Large Council members. Additionally, the Board has agreed with the MAC recommendation that membership fees be waived at least until such time as an elected At Large Council has had an opportunity to review and reach a conclusion on future funding.
The total estimated budget sets a minimum figure of $100,000, which will afford ICANN a single employee, together with the minimum necessary hardware, software, technical services, and expenses. A larger grant of $200,000 would permit ICANN to add additional staff and/or professional support for global outreach and public awareness efforts, which will otherwise depend primarily upon the efforts of ICANN's hardworking volunteers and supporters. For example, the commitment of additional Markle funds would enable ICANN to (i) expand and accelerate its efforts to establish reciprocal membership relationships with relevant associations, non-profits, and Internet-oriented membership organizations, and (ii) attract matching in-kind donations of advertising space from leading web portals and content providers
The following budget estimate has been developed to support the first six months of the At Large membership program:
(a) In addition to funding of the initial budget sought from the Markle Foundation, it is possible that some of the budget line items may be made available to ICANN as donations or in kind services. As a part of the At Large membership formation process, ICANN will undertake the important task of explaining what ICANN is, what ICANN does, and why the members of the global Internet community should be involved in its At Large Membership and At Large Elections. The funds for professional services requested in item (6) above would be dedicated to an aggressive global, multi-language outreach and public awareness campaign for ICANN's At Large Membership.
(b) The Membership program manager position is a permanent staff requirement but the funding requested from Markle is for only the first six months. This position may be filled on a consultant or other temporary basis, which would defer a permanent staff hiring decision to a future date.
(c) Computer hardware and software costs are only for incremental expenses necessary for the membership program. Router, firewall, etc., expenses are already covered in ICANN's regular budget. It is not intended that membership applications software will be developed uniquely for ICANN. The technical services contract assumes use of available software to meet ICANN requirements with a minimum amount of customization.
(d) The professional services for outreach identified in item (4) include assistance with design of both online and hardcopy information resources, contacts with Internet portal and ISP organizations for appropriate publicity, in-kind donations of advertising space, etc. The funds requested in item (7) would be dedicated to expand and accelerate efforts to leverage these outreach efforts by attracting matching in-kind donations of advertising space and public service announcements from existing web portals, membership associations, and other interested groups.
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