.org Reassignment: Commentary of Unity on Final Evaluation Report
30 September 2002
Unity Commentary on Final Evaluation Report
30 September 2002
Dear ICANN board members,
We respectfully submit that the evaluations provided by your staff have mistakenly overlooked or disregarded several key facts that show that the Unity Registry bid provides the best practical outcome for the .org community and minimizes the risks of transition to a new registry operator.
In order to ensure the best practical outcome for the ICANN Board’s constituency, the Board should consider all information provided through the procurement, rather than arbitrarily ignoring important facts or selectively excluding relevant data. This document addresses our key concerns in this regard, and we trust the Board will objectively consider all the facts provided herein.
The staff report analysis is critically based on "demonstrated ability" and, as the result of an arbitrary decision to disregard the experience that occurred after the original tender document was due on June 18, the Staff report simply ignores the key fact that the AusRegistry (Unity Registry Partner) Registry transition went live on July 1 and provides Unity Registry with the most pertinent "demonstrated experience" with a complex registry transition, at substantial scale, of any bidder. The staff report claims that experience must have occurred before the original bid was due in order to be considered. We suggest that the ICANN Board’s responsibility is to select the best bidder at the time of decision. If Unity’s actual, relevant, successful recent experience were considered, it seems likely that Unity would have received an "A" rating and, indeed, have been considered to present LESS risk than the other proposals.
To clarify what was disregarded by the evaluation committee, AusRegistry proved its "demonstrated ability" by smoothly transitioning and maintaining a registry of approximately 300,000 domain names, and maintaining agreed service levels from Day 1. This information was clearly outlined in answers to the questions which were submitted to all applicants with current registries and was provided within the requested timeframe as part of the bidding process. The AusRegistry transition was more complex than the one required for .org, as it included numerous domain extensions. It would be irrational and irresponsible for the Board to ignore this information or to rely solely on a staff report that inexplicably does so.
Just as the Board can consider the post-submission formation of the corporate entity to which a contract might be granted (as in the case of PIR), surely it can and must consider the fact that AusRegistry successfully implemented the previously described transition that gives it the most pertinent "experience" for the job at hand.
It also appears that much of the information provided in the comments on the Preliminary Report and the subsequent responses from applicants were also disregarded by the Technical Evaluation Team (Review of the Usage Team’s documentation show significant alteration of some results based on clarified facts.) We ask that the ICANN Board members take the time to review the all responses and answers of all parties and consider the effect this information would have on Unity Registry’s and the other applicants’ Technology ratings. However in summary:
The final evaluation does not reflect any reassessment in light of misleading statements in ISOC’s bid. Despite evidence provided by Unity and Chris Disspain (Chief Executive Officer of auDA) that ISOC/Afilias did not "supervise" a transition as claimed, but rather merely "tested" the work performed by AusRegistry in building the .au registry, there was no substantial change in the evaluation’s conclusions. Any evaluation of the best technological alternative, and "demonstrated ability" would seem to need to be altered if credit for experience had been attributed to the incorrect party. See Supplementary Questions 7 and Chris Disspain’s letter in the public comment forum.
Unity Registry’s desire to raise the standards of service by providing strong, specific and financial guarantees of performance levels beyond those currently provided have also had little apparent effect. As representatives of the stakeholders, in striving to make the best decision, the ICANN Board should not merely consider service levels offered in the past but also consider new service levels which are likely to have an impact on the .org experience. See Supplementary Question 14.
Questions raised regarding the Database Management System selection of the various proposers, a choice which lies at the heart of the registry, had no apparent material effect on the rating. Once transition is smoothly completed, the major risk facing a registry is scaling. Our proposal is clearly superior to ISOC’s on this critical factor. (See Supplementary Questions 13). While we accept that this might be mitigated "at some expense", the interaction effects of a limited open source database need to be considered in relation to the significant risk posed by such a design choice to the overall stability of the .org registry.
We urge the board to consider all the relevant facts in making their decision on what provides the optimal benefit to the people they represent by minimising risk and improving service.
The staff report stresses the importance of a stable registry and a smooth transition. AusRegistry (a Unity partner) is the only one of the highly rated applicants to have successfully completed a smooth, full, large scale transition. The low transition rating by Gartner was clearly caused by a staff decision to entirely disregard this information. Once again, the ICANN Board should consider all the facts and seek to provide the best experience for the ICANN Board’s constituency.
To ensure the smoothness of this transition, Unity Registry proposed to negotiate a financial deal with Verisign that would induce Verisign to proactively provide intermediate services during the transition phase. The Unity bid is thus the only one that includes a financial undertaking that assures VeriSign's active collaboration. The Staff report and technical evaluation reports simply ignored this key feature of our proposal.
Unity has now finalised an agreement with VeriSign on price and key performance terms for VeriSign’s active transition involvement, as projected in our original proposal. Only the Unity bid offers the assurance of a VeriSign guarantee that a smooth transition will occur and that operations will be stable for the first year. Our fulfilment of this critical, promised task confirms that the Unity proposal offers the lowest risk of all proposals.
The staff evaluation clearly stated it did not consider price as long as the proposed price was under US$6, as the staff considered any amount less than $6 to be "affordable". (See final note on staff report.) We would suggest that price is always relevant as it is directly related to value. If price was not to be a relevant consideration, then one would have expected the tender to have read: "Describe what services can be provided assuming a price of US$6 per name."
If this is how it was originally meant to read, Unity Registry would be pleased to invest the extra 16% (the price difference between our bidding price and the $US6 price) of revenue into providing further systems redundancy, greater support for the .org community and even further hands on assistance to registrars with transition.
We feel that it is the ICANN Board’s role to ensure that the stakeholders they represent receive the best value for money in their consideration.
While the "Usage" evaluation has been largely glossed over in the staff report, we believe corporate governance is critical to any decision. The risk of bad corporate governance for .org could severely affect the stability of the internet as a whole.
Unity Registry is the only bidder that received a "very high" rating of "6" on governance issues, by providing an open and transparent corporate governance model. This compares with a "low" "2" rating for ISOC (Refer page 14 NCDNHC report).
The ICANN Board have a duty of care and should consider their direct responsibility and accountability in ensuring the organisation they select to run the .org registry has strong corporate governance.
Unity Registry is the only bidder to be given an "A" rating by the community that this RFP proposes to serve. We believe that this ensures that our goals and those of the community and ICANN are aligned. Once the Board considers the key technical facts that were excluded from the staff analysis, and our unique undertaking to make payments sufficient to induce proactive involvement of the incumbent in assuring success, we trust the Board will conclude that Unity offers the lowest risk AND the highest likelihood of success.
The Unity Registry SA Team
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