In a previous post, I had copied a letter from a group of "friends of ICANN" to the Chair of the Board of ICANN, about the process leading to the recruitment of the next CEO (English original here, translation into French here but scroll down, and into Chinese here).
This group of "friends" considered that a follow-up was necessary, and recently sent a new letter to the Chair of the Board, who graciously replied. The content of both messages is reproduced below.
24th of January 2012
Dear Dr. CROCKER,
In November 2011 we, as a group of friends of ICANN from various parts of the world, had shared with you and your colleagues of the Board our concerns about the process leading to the choice of ICANN’s next CEO, and offering some recommendations. You had graciously acknowledged this letter. Today we are writing as a follow-up to that correspondence.
We note with satisfaction the improvements the Board has brought to the selection process:
1) a Search Committee was properly formed, with an experienced and respected personnality as its Chair,
2) the external consultant was chosen among firms having responded to a call for tenders,
3) the preselection process is being carried out by the search firm, not by the Board or its Search Committee,
4) transparency has improved: the community was invited to comment the draft of the job profile, and elements of the selection process have been posted online,
5) the position of CEO was advertised in a leading weekly publication with a worldwide distribution, not restricted to the USA.
We wish to commend the Board, under your leadership, for having taken these measures which improve the internal governance of ICANN and enhance its image.
The recent publication of the job profile in The Economist is, in itself, a welcome innovation, which we had advocated. However, this advertisement gives rise to new questions:
a) ICANN is not described as a not-for-profit organization. This omission introduces a degree of ambiguity about the nature of ICANN, both for prospective candidates and to its worldwide community. Is this departure from well-established wording meant to indicate that, somehow, ICANN is evolving into a commercial corporation looking for the usual type of CEO?
b) As an established practice, ICANN has always described itself as a “private-sector led multi-stakeholder organization”. For its advertisement in The Economist, ICANN is said to fulfill its mission "by engaging with a global community of thousands of actively participating stakeholders (governments, businesses, academia, NGO's, technical operators and individuals), all of whom have a role in keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable". Although this latter formulation was probably meant to make the notion of “multi-stakeholder” more widely understood, it weakens the principle according to which stakeholders are on an equal footing, at the heart of ICANN’s originality and value.
If the advertisement in The Economist is to be published again, it might be worthwhile considering some changes. Additionally, ICANN could easily modify the online job profile to restore clarity.
With best wishes to you and the Board of Directors, we remain
Nashwa ABDELBAKI, from Egypt,
AIZU Izumi, from Japan,
Yrjö LÄNSIPURO, from Finland,
Evan LEIBOVITCH, from Canada,
Alejandro PISANTY, from Mexico,
Nii QUAYNOR, from Ghana,
Carlton SAMUELS, from Jamaica,
Jean-Jacques SUBRENAT, from France,
XUE Hong, from China.
On behalf of the above:
(signed) Jean-Jacques Subrenat
It is a pleasure to hear from you again and it warms my heart to see that you are following the recruiting process closely.
The ad in the Economist was a deliberate departure from the process we used last time, and I am not surprised that we might not have gotten it exactly right. Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that we have received a strong response to the ad and, far more importantly, we have received from a variety of sources a good list of strong candidates. Whatever misunderstandings might have arisen from the wording in the ad will surely be sorted out during the interview process.
Nothing in the ad should be interpreted as altering the fundamental nature and structure of ICANN. Just as an example, there is no prospect of evolving ICANN into a commercial corporation. The comments that you have provided are good, and perhaps if we had thought even more about the content of the ad, we would have included them. The absence of 'not for profit' in the description is unfortunate, since that would have provided another clue in addition to the phrase 'public service' regarding the fundamental nature of ICANN.
We do not plan to run another ad during this recruiting process. We will keep your comments in the file for the eventuality some day in the future when we have to do this again.
Again, thanks!Steve CrockerChair, ICANN Board of Directors
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