US government scraps IANA bidding process

Update: The NTIA has said it will relaunch the bid process later this year. Full information.

The US government has cancelled the rebid process for the crucial IANA contract, effective immediately.

The unexpected decision, just days before an announcement was expected, was made through an amendment posted to the RFP process. It leaves the way open for ICANN to announce this week that it has retained the contract, due to end on 31 March.

However it remains unclear why the NTIA cancelled the RFP process "in its entirety" rather than simply award the contract through its RFP terms to ICANN - which is what everyone expected.

By canceling the RFP, many of the changes to the contract - including a schedule of deadlines for improvements - may not apply to a rewarded IANA contract, raising the question: why did the US government bother with the process in the first place?

ICANN has been desperate to retain control of the IANA contract - and so effectively act as the maintainer of the Internet's main directory - and the RFP process was widely seen as a warning shot across ICANN's boughs that it needed to improve and should not take the contract for granted.

In the lead-up to the renewal last year, ICANN seemed to be doing exactly that, telling the US government in the face of its criticism that it should be awarded the contract on a co-operative basis. The demand was publicly dismissed.

Whether ICANN has pulled off an unlikely win and persuaded the NTIA to go that route, we will most likely find out next week at ICANN's conference in Costa Rica. After a tough year in which the organization has been roundly criticized from all sides, it could do with a success story.

What the amendment says

Amendment 3 to the IANA RFP says simply:

"The purpose of this amendment is to cancel RFP SA1301-12-RP-IANA.

"The Department of Commerce (DoC) hereby cancels RFP SA1301-12-RP-IANA in its entirety."

Cancellation amendment282.77 KB