[NA-Discuss] quora

Danny Younger dannyyounger at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 24 03:48:47 UTC 2011


Thank you for your comment.  ICANN has previously found itself confronting the reality that sometimes individuals will attempt to take advantage of the organization's largesse.  I point you to a prior Ombudsman's report as one example of such behaviors -- see  http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/documents/repayment-expenses-report-17sep08.pdf

To deal with such considerations, most organizations establish policies that serve to guard against possible abuses.  I have called for the establishment of such a policy within ALAC, and I well understand that when one openly criticizes an organization, the typical organizational response is a concerted effort to circle the wagons, to adopt a bunker mentality and to declare that everything is just dandy within the group.  So be it.

My primary concern, of course, relates to whether work is actually getting done, or if we're looking at folks just going through the motions on ICANN's dime.  Obviously, I expect those that are travel fund recipients to be present at those meeetings that have been scheduled and to complete whatever assignments they have accepted.  ...and yes, I too have attended multiple ICANN meetings and am clearly aware that circumstances can arise.

Matters, of course, are complicated by the ALAC's informality.  Almost all other ICANN organizations will begin their sessions with a roll call, with a notation regarding apologies conveyed, proxies tendered, etc.  As such does not transpire within ALAC meetings, remote participants are unaware of circumstances that may have precluded participation.  All we know is that quorum was barely met with 9 out of 15 members in attendance.  

You are aware that at every ICANN session ALAC members and associates are asked to report to the community on the meetings that they have attended.  It's now the end of the week, and just like the last time around (and the time before that) there are almost no reports from these meeting participants (the sole exceptions are the contributions that I have noted from Darlene and Dev) -- see https://community.icann.org/display/atlarge/Singapore+18.06.11+Meeting+Reports -- this indeed makes one wonder whether any "work" is really being done.

Similarly, when you take the time to review the ALAC's Working Group archives, you will also note that almost no work is being done in those environments either.  Feel free to compare the level of dialogue therein with that to be found in any typical GNSO Working Group.  

Neither is substantive discussion occuring on the primary ALAC mailing list -- it's a wasteland almost totally devoid of commentary.  

In my estimation, the closest that the ALAC as organization comes to "working" arises in the context of Statement preparation.  The ALAC will hand a "pen" to one of its members to compose a draft statement (and it's usually the same small group of people that hold this pen).  When the draft is produced and submitted we then wait for comments which almost never materialize.  This is followed by the Chair asking for discussion at an ALAC session (and of course, there is almost never any discussion).  The matter is then put to a vote (almost always unanimous), and voila! ALAC work-product is achieved.

When I consider the fact that the Expense Area Grouping (EAG) reports At-Large and ALAC Support Activities budgeted at $5,427,000, I ask myself if we are getting five million dollars worth of service out of this At-Large endeavor.  Sorry, but I'm just not seeing the ROI.  

Recently the NARALO addressed the issue of pre-registrations, a topic area that could have been worthy of a WG effort, or which at the very least should have been worthy of some sustained discussion within the ALAC itself.  Our concerns certainly could have been raised to members of the Board, but of course I saw no mention of this regional issue in the Chair's report.  Of what value then is a regional construct if these matters are not recognized and/or transmitted?

Suffice it to say that I have heard the ALAC Chair announce that ALAC members are working very, very hard... sorry, but I just don't see it that way.  A few certainly go above and beyond, but collectively the end-result is far from what I would deem to be acceptable.

When I consider the history of ICANN and its various constructs I note that ICANN has certainly terminated some of its constituenct elements before (the PSO is gone, the DNSO General Assembly is gone), and we have withstood these changes without incident.  As such, I remain of the view that the entirety of the at-large could easily be parked within the non-commercial house of the GNSO (as almost all ALSs are either non-commercial orgs or individuals) at tremendous cost-savings to the organization.  At least within that body I would have confidence that ICANN's work would get done and that funds expended would be well spent.

In closing, I look at it this way... The ALAC has a choice.  It can maintain that all is rosy and that those subsidized to attend are all duly engaged in work, or it can assure us all of such by adopting a policy that would serve to limit any possible future inappropriate behaviors.   There has long been a perception that funded at-large participants care more about tourism than about ICANN, and I don't believe that I'm the only one that has had these thoughts.

The ALAC can address this preception by taking appropriate measures, or it can assert that nothing is wrong and that no policy is needed.  Whatever the case may turn out to be, as complaints such as mine have a way of taking on a life of their own, I will refrain from further remarks on the subject.

Again, thanks for your considered remarks.


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