Accountability Framework Assistance Project: Preliminary Framework
29 July 2002

Accountability Framework Assistance Project
Preliminary Framework


The ICANN Evolution and Reform Committee (the "ERC") has requested assistance in the form of recommendations for implementing several specific aspects of the Blueprint dealing with accountability. These include suggestions for the charter of the Office of Ombudsman, the independent review arbitration process for alleged bylaw violations, and appropriate modifications of the Reconsideration Policy of ICANN. Project recommendations will follow the core values laid out both by the ERC in its report entitled "ICANN: A Blueprint for Reform" (the "Blueprint") and by the ICANN Board, in its action on June 28 in Bucharest, Romania accepting and endorsing the Blueprint. These values require ICANN to operate under processes that: (i) encourage bottom-up policy development by affected groups, (ii) encourage broad, informed participation of affected parties reflecting the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet; (iii) are open and transparent; (iv) ensure that ICANN is accountable to those entities most affected by its decisions; and (v) ensure the neutral and objective application of documented policies. Project participants will work to develop recommendations regarding (i) improvements to current processes to advance ICANN’s core values of openness and transparency and (ii) improvements to ICANN’s structure and appeal processes to ensure fairness while limiting frivolous claims.

The work will also take into account the comments of the Department of Commerce and the Governmental Advisory Committee that ICANN clarify and limit its mission and responsibilities, and reform its decision-making processes to provide for transparency and accountability and to permit the views of all Internet stakeholders to be heard.
I have asked a number individuals to assist me in this undertaking. These individuals bring a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and significant expertise to this undertaking. I expect to be in a position to announce the working group participants in the next several days.

General Overview

I. High Level Topics

I have asked project participants to proceed on the following assumptions:

  1. No single mechanism will ensure that ICANN is accountable to parties affected by its decisions.
  2. Accountability requires clear processes for facilitating public understanding of ICANN’s work and appropriate public participation in ICANN’s policy development and other decision-making efforts.
  3. The role of the Manager of Public Participation is to prevent disputes with ICANN staff and the Board by increasing public understanding of and enhancing public participation in ICANN’s work.
  4. The remaining accountability mechanisms should be designed to air and resolve disputes with ICANN’s Board and staff fairly and efficiently.
  5. The accountability mechanisms identified in the Blueprint (Ombudsman, Reconsideration, and Independent Review) provide accountability under different circumstances and should be individually tailored to those circumstances.
  6. At the same time, the accountability mechanisms should, collectively, ensure that all persons materially affected by ICANN decisions have meaningful access to an appeals process that ensures fairness while limiting frivolous claims.

II. Deliverables

Our final recommendations will include proposed charters/job descriptions and implementation guidelines for each of the accountability mechanisms described in the ERC's Blueprint.

Respectfully submitted by:
Becky Burr
Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering

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