Comments of .org Foundation
on .org Preliminary Evaluation Report
August 29, 2002
To: ICANN Board and Staff
From: Terry Drayton
Greetings to the ICANN Board and Staff:
We appreciate the efforts the ICANN Board and Staff have exerted in overseeing the evaluation process of the 11 bids submitted to become the .Org registry. We know there were not only time and financial pressures involved, but also that each bid had its own complexities. We are submitting this summary of issues regarding The .Org Foundation's proposal for becoming the .Org TLD registry for your review. We are confident that an accurate and diligent review of our bid will place The .Org Foundation at the top of the list.
The Academic CIO and the ICANN General Counsel Evaluation Reports were disappointing in many respects. Our main concern is that no relevant data was provided to substantiate the rankings given to each bid. This creates a sense that the reports are overtly subjective and biased in their conclusions. We hereby request that if the Academic CIO and the ICANN General Counsel Evaluation Reports are to be accepted by the ICANN Board and Staff that the supporting data and criteria of evaluation be published on the ICANN web site. If not then we believe these reports must be not used by the ICANN Staff and Board as a basis for evaluating the bids.
Our biggest concern is that there were serious material inaccuracies regarding the evaluation of our bid in both the Gartner and the NCDNHC Evaluation Reports. The Preliminary Staff Report is a merged summary of all the above-mentioned reports, (Gartner, NCDNHC, Academic CIO, and ICANN General Counsel Evaluation Reports). The inaccuracies of these reports are inherently reflected in the Preliminary Staff Report and call into question the conclusions and recommendations.
First and foremost, The .Org Foundation requests that the NCDNHC Evaluation Report be completely discarded. We are truly alarmed that the NCDNHC Report stated on page 20 that The .Org Foundation "did not respond to the NCDNHC questions, nor to any other substantive questions on the list". This is a completely false and highly prejudicial statement. The .Org Foundation responded on July 18, 2002 to the NCDNHC questions posted July 1, 2002 on the ICANN Public Forum website (See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D360C9B000000C0). We also responded to all substantive questions addressed to all bidders that were posted on this site (Response to questions posed by Shelton Johnson: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D4F1055000001CC and questions posed by Clint White: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D4883FB000001A7). Based on the inaccurate premise that the Foundation did not respond, the NCDNHC committee gave our bid an extremely negative ranking. We feel that this low ranking is undeserved and does not reflect the true merits of our bid. The Executive Director, Mr. Feld, on August 21, 2002 sent us an email acknowledging we had submitted the requested information in time and that the NCDNHC had mistakenly omitted it in their evaluation process and ranking.
Regarding the Gartner report, based on the significant inaccuracies stated as justification for our low ranking we hereby request that Gartner or the ICANN Staff re-evaluate our proposal and publish the findings. The Gartner report states that The .Org Foundation "Did not propose real-time updating of Zone files and Whois database" (see the Gartner .org Reassignment-RFP Review page 23). This is not true. In our detailed response summary we give several references from our proposal as proof that eNom, our registry service provider, currently supports and will continue to support real-time zone file updates. In another example, there is a Gartner finding that does not relate to our proposal, but clearly calls into question the objectivity of Gartner's report, is their finding that a proposal that utilized Verisign as their registry was ranked 4th overall. As the current operator of .org, .com, and .net and the largest registry in the world, this ranking is simply absurd.
We have attached a detailed response summarized by the Criteria for Assessing Proposals provided by ICANN which documents our comments, noting inaccuracies and omissions, and requesting re-evaluation of the unwarranted low rankings given to The .Org Foundation's submitted bid.
We assert that The .Org Foundation's proposal best meets the technical requirement of the .Org registry and is best organized to respond to the needs of the global .Org community. We request that the ICANN Board and Staff, not the outside consultants, correct the technical inaccuracies and the corresponding erroneous conclusions that were drawn regarding our bid. For example, by correctly acknowledging that eNom was one of the first to provide and will continue to provide real-time zone file updates, currently provides services to over 1.2 million registrants, has production experience with both RRP and EPP protocols, has implemented a number of other IETF protocols, and has received outside verification from F5 Networks, Inc. and Ciber, Inc. validating eNom's registry software's compliance with the RRP protocol and its registry architecture, The .Org Foundation's bid should be ranked in the top 3 for technical merit.
Please contact me with any questions you may have regarding our response to the evaluation reports.
In the Gartner Evaluation Report in the Findings Detail - .Org it states, "Did not propose real-time updating of Zone files and Whois database"1. This is not true. As stated in several places in our proposal and in our presentation in Bucharest, eNom was one of the first to provide real-time zone file updates and will continue to do so as the .Org registry provider. Please see The .Org Foundation proposal Section II [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_II.htm], subsections C12 (page 9), C14 (page 11), C15.2 (page 14, 15, 16, 21, and 22), Section III [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_III.htm], subsections C17.1 (page 27 and 31), C17.3 (page 35), C17.4 (page 48), Section V [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_V.htm], subsections C26 (page 64 and 65), C28 (page 69), Section VI [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_VI.htm], subsection C31 (page 73 and 74), and Section IX [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_IX.htm], subsection C41.1 (page 80). Real-time zone updates are also noted in our Executive Summary [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/default.htm#exec] (page 4 and 5).
The Gartner report also states we propose no OT&E environment. Again, this is not true. Please see The .Org Foundation proposal Section III [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_III.htm], subsections C18.1 (page 51,and 52), C18.2 (page 54), and Section IV [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_IV.htm], subsection C22.
This section was the most weighted of the Gartner evaluation criteria and was based on erroneous data. Such glaring inaccuracies in the Gartner report call into question its conclusions.
To ensure stability and functionality of the .Org registry we sought confirmation of the technical capabilities of our registry service provider. eNom received outside verification from F5 Networks, Inc. and Ciber, Inc. of their technical competence to operate a stable and responsive registry. Both letters, which were posted on the ICANN public forum website2, validate eNom's registry software's compliance with the RRP protocol and its registry architecture.
In addition, Microsoft's grant of over $800,000 worth of stable, widely-used operating systems, database software and other operational software, including development environments, contributes greatly to the stability and well-functioning services of the registry. Since usage of the software as the basis of the registry and the DNS (both high-profile Internet infrastructure applications), will reflect on Microsoft, this grant also demonstrates Microsoft's belief that the registry's architecture, technologists, and transition plan were, from the basis of a solid registry, worthy of such a grant. All other bidders based their software on non-Microsoft based platforms, while our bid was the only Microsoft-technology based proposal. The diversification of software used as the basis of registries brings differentiation to our registry, while at the same time brings additional stability to the Internet as a whole.
This criterion was evaluated by the ICANN General Counsel, which gave no data substantiating the ranking given to each bid. The report gives no recognition of eNom, Inc., our selected service provider. eNom is the sixth largest registrar and is known for its technological expertise, customer satisfaction, and has been fully ICANN accredited for the past four years. As stated in our proposal, eNom has been and will continue to be fully supportive of all ICANN developed policies, including the support of RPP end EPP protocols. Other bidders who scored higher in this section have not entered into any contractual agreements with ICANN. So there is no basis in fact to draw such conclusions.
"One of ICANN's core principles is the encouragement of competition at both the registry and registrar levels. A major purpose of the reassignment of the .Org registry is to diversify the provision of registry services by placing the .Org registry under different operation than the .com and .net registries. Consideration will be given to the extent to which proposed arrangements are consistent with this purpose". 3
It makes good sense for ICANN to fulfill this core principle by assigning the .Org registry to The .Org Foundation and, in the process, creating a strong new registry to serve the .Org community. We are fully confident that eNom has the technical knowledge and capacity to operate the .Org registry. Please see the Enhancement Of Competition section of our proposal at: http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_VI.htm
Another way that The .Org Foundation's bid enhances competition is by proposing the lowest registration price of $4.95/name/year (without requiring an unrealistically large number of new registrants or demanding a 10 year commitment before offering a lower price). This can spur other registries to lower their prices and motivate registrars to pass these savings to the .Org community.
Finally, Microsoft's participation as a tangible contributor to The .Org Foundation as operator of the .Org registry, as stated in their support included with our proposal4 and followed by a specific financial donation of software and services detailed in a letter recently posted to the ICANN public forum website5, brings them into the ICANN registry process, which could use more Internet-industry participants of all types, now and in the future.
As stated in the response that we posted to the NCDNHC questions6 the issue of differentiation and marketing the .Org TLD revolves around persuading registrars to abide by the .Org registry marketing plan. Registrars, being for-profit and market-driven, are free to implement any marketing strategy they wish. Therefore, the influence registries have over them is financial incentives and differentiation marketing to the noncommercial community registrants.
The common practice has been for registrars to align their marketing plans for particular TLDs with those of the registry by using the registry's freely available marketing materials. Some registrars have participated in co-marketing campaigns where the registry pays for a portion of the registrar's marketing if it conforms to the plan of the registry. Providing financial incentives to registrars who abide by the registry's marketing plans is a useful tool as long as the registry provides the same incentive opportunity fairly to all registrars.
We challenge the NCDNHC report statement "no innovative services were proposed."7 We included several innovative services in our proposal. They include better handling of deleted names, real-time zone file updates, free transfers, self-categorization, and an EPP polling mechanism (see Section II, subsection C12) [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_II.htm]. Just because The .Org Foundation has decided not to charge for these services does not mean they are not innovative or differentiating.
We also challenge the NCDNHC report statement "No relationship with registrars was defined".8 Throughout our proposal, especially Section III Technical Plan [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_III.htm], we addressed the structural needs and defined parameters between the .Org registry and registrars. Our selected service provider, eNom, Inc., is an accredited ICANN registrar serving over 1.2 million registrants and over 3000 resellers who actively utilize eNom's API. In the registry service provider agreement eNom specifically stated they will not be a registrar for .org registrations. As the sixth largest registrar in the world, eNom is fully aware of the needs of registrars.
We take exception to the NCDNHC report's assertion that "It (The .Org Foundation) has no relationship with the noncommercial community"9. The .Org Foundation included letters of support from numerous noncommercial organizations and we announced our alliance with Digital Partners10 at our presentation in Bucharest, Romania. We have also secured many endorsements from noncommercial organizations which we posted on the ICANN public forum website. We have garnered the endorsement of the United Nations Fund for International Partnership (UNIP)11 and was an invited participant at the July 12, 2002 United Nations meeting "Digital Bridge to Africa" sponsored by the UNIP and Digital Partners. This gathering of over 100 organizations from around the world addressed the digital divide that exists between for-profit and nonprofit organizations, specifically on the African continent.
As for our staff, as stated in our proposal12, Mr. Terry Drayton, Executive Director, has personally launched several commercial and noncommercial organizations and held Board of Directors positions on many others. This is also true of Sheila Richardson, Director of Development, who has founded and been a Board member of several noncommercial organizations. Melessa Rogers, Operations Director, has worked for over 20 years as a noncommercial professional, most recently as Director of Operations for a nationally known nonprofit and has been a Board member for many noncommercial organizations.
In response to the low ranking we received on "Input/Governance"13 we wish to bring attention to our Executive Summary [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/default.htm#exec], Governance Plan and By Laws [http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/appendix_a.htm and http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/appendix_d.htm], as well as in Section VII Responsiveness to the Noncommercial Internet Community [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_VII.htm]. These references clearly state our commitment to serve the noncommercial Internet community and our intention to fully include the .Org community in the basic structure of The .Org Foundation reflecting as much diversity as possible. Ours is the only proposal that intends to have a majority of our Board of Directors elected directly from the .Org community with our proposed EPP polling mechanism.
We would like to reiterate that the NCDNHC report has acknowledged and apologized for not including The .Org Foundation's response to the NCDNHC questions that were posted on the ICANN public forum website. This negates the low rating given to The .Org Foundation in the "post-bid" category.
We wish to know why the summary of The .Org Foundation support was not included with the other bidders in Annex 4? This omission calls into question what information the NCDNHC committee used in giving a negative evaluation and low ranking for The .Org Foundation in this section.
We take exception to the NCDNHC Report assertion "The geographic scope of endorsements is extremely narrow. Nearly all the entities are based in Seattle, WA."14 We received many international letters of endorsement including a letter from the Vice Chairman of India which was posted to the ICANN public forum website.15 Many of the individual endorsements were not counted because they were commercially related to eNom, our registry service provider. Our assertion is that these endorsements are valid. They support eNom's technical competence, were sent by satisfied eNom customers, and reflect a global community. We received 200 plus endorsements from over 50 countries. That equates to a broad geographic scope.
We wish to stress that The .Org Foundation proposed the lowest bid (and our maximum price) of $4.95/name/year without requiring a huge number of registrants or demanding a 10 year commitment before lowering the price. Our proposal also provides all the services now available from Verisign and includes new services that will be provided at no additional cost.16 A note of interest: 6 bids (Unity Registry, ISOC, Neustar, Global Name Registry, DotOrg Foundation, and Register Organization) all proposed a higher actual cost with no substantial services added and yet they all received a higher rating in this category than The .Org Foundation. Why?
eNom is one of the few technical team members of the submitted proposals that has production experience with both RRP and EPP protocols and has implemented a number of other IETF protocols. eNom has received outside verification from F5 Networks, Inc. and Ciber, Inc. of their technical competence to operate a stable and responsive registry. Both letters, which were posted on the ICANN public forum website17, validate eNom's registry software's compliance with the RRP protocol and its registry architecture. Given this and the fact the eNom currently provides superior service to over 1.2 million registrants, we question the mediocre ranking our bid received in this section.
Given that the Gartner report positively states our bid has "Reasonable detail shown of actual technical migration plan...Overall sound plan..." and the report erroneously states "registrants and users will be minimally affected", we feel our lower ranking in this section to be inaccurate. For the record, in our proposal we state there will be no affect on registrants and Internet users different from currently accepted practices.18
The .Org Foundation is a nonprofit organization that fully qualifies to receive the VeriSign endowment. The .Org Foundation gave considerable attention to crafting the best possible solution to serve the .Org community. We identified eNom, known for its technical knowledge and capacity, to be the stable, dependable and responsive .Org registry service provider. We designed our governance plan to gain continuous input from the .Org community and developed our By Laws to have a majority of our Board of Director elected directly from the .Org community. We established our development strategy to build upon the VeriSign endowment to provide information services and funding resources for the noncommercial community. We have identified partner organizations that share our mission of fostering self-sufficiency for nonprofits through increased access to Internet technology. As stated in our proposal19, we have the support of the Microsoft Corporation. We have also finalized an agreement with the Microsoft Corporation for almost $1million in startup software and services that will ensure the stability of the .Org registry. We have posted to the ICANN public forum website the second letter from Microsoft20 which outlines the financial aspects of their donation of software and services to The .Org Foundation.
The .Org Foundation's proposal was noted complete and sound. It was also complemented on the letter of agreement between the Foundation and the selected registry service provider, eNom, Inc. Other bids ranked higher in this section have not provided any written agreement for their selected registry service provider. Why, therefore, did The .Org Foundation receive such a low ranking in this section?
Based on the preliminary findings of the evaluation reports, the material inaccuracies, information completely overlooked by the NCDNHC, such as our response to their questions, and reiterated aspects of our proposal we noted in Criteria 1 through 11 above, we assert that The .Org Foundation's proposal best meets the technical requirement of the .Org registry and is best organized to respond to the needs of the global .Org community.
We request that the ICANN Staff correct the technical inaccuracies and the corresponding inaccurate conclusions that were drawn regarding our bid. For example, by correctly acknowledging that eNom was one of the first to provide and will continue to provide real-time zone file updates, currently provides services to over 1.2 million registrants and over 3000 reseller who actively utilize eNom's API, has production experience with both RRP and EPP protocols, has implemented a number of other IETF protocols, and has received outside verification from F5 Networks, Inc. and Ciber, Inc. validating eNom's registry software's compliance with the RRP protocol and its registry architecture, The .Org Foundation's bid should be ranked in the top 3 for technical merit.
3. Reassignment of .org Top-Level Domain: Criteria for Assessing Proposals: http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/criteria.htm.
4. See our proposal appendix: http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/microsoft.htm.
5. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D6DB11F00000212
6. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D360C9B000000C0
10. Digital Partners is an international nonprofit organization committed to utilizing the digital economy to empower the poor (www.digitalpartners.org). Also see our proposal appendix for Digital Partners letter of endorsement (http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/digital.htm).
11. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D1A2EFF0000008F
12. See our proposal Section II [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_II.htm] subsections C15.1.
15. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D49DC16000001AB
16. See our proposal Section II [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_II.htm] subsections C12 and C14
17. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D61C158000001FB and http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D5AE61F000001EE.
18. See our proposal Section III [http://www.icann.Org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/dotorg_proposal_III.htm], subsection C18.4.
19. See our proposal appendix: http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/applications/orgfoundation/microsoft.htm.
20. See the ICANN Public Forum: http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?org;3D6DB11F00000212
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