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Selecting ICANN’s Next CEO - Letter 2

In November 2011, a group of “friends of ICANN” from various countries sent a letter to the Chair of ICANN’s Board, expressing concern about the process used previously, and suggesting improvements.

Towards the end of 2011, the ICANN Board set up a Search Committee, chaired by George Sadowsky, and some significant improvements have been integrated into the selection process:

• In the previous round, in 2008-09, some members of the Board had self-appointed themselves to form a Search Committee, which began consultations many weeks before a Board resolution even established it. This time, proper process has been respected.

• In its previous incarnation, the Search Committee had chosen an external consultant without any semblance of a competitive bid, which was odd at a time when the whole of ICANN was gearing up to reaffirm its commitments, including being able to escape “capture” resulting from any conflict of interest. This time, the firm was selected through a call for tenders.

• In 2008-09, responsibilities were blurred between the Search Committee and the consulting firm, each doing a bit of the other’s job. This time, applications from candidates are received solely by the consulting firm, which does all the vetting, due process and pre-selection, in (we are told) an independent fashion.

• Transparency has improved; for example, the profile of the CEO job was posted, and the ICANN community invited to review it.

• Previously, the job of CEO had not been advertised other than on the ICANN website, in spite of strong demands by some Board members who remarked that a lack of adequate international publicity weakened the corporation’s transparency and reputation. This time, an ad was placed in a world-class weekly, attracting much attention.

In the 2nd letter to the Chair of the Board, 2 questions were raised about the way the ad was run in The Economist:

• Why was ICANN not referred to, simply, as a “not-for-profit” organization?

• Why was the usual “multi-stakeholder organization” description dropped?

Do these two notable departures from long-standing and widely accepted definitions imply that ICANN is considering a change in its identity? In his reply, the Chair of the Board answers these points.

The 2nd letter from these “friends of ICANN”, and the reply from the Chair of the Board, can be viewed in full here.

By Jean-Jacques Subrenat, Ambassador (ret.)

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