ICANN had no idea IANA rejection was coming
by Kieren McCarthy | 10 Mar 2012 |
In a worrying turn of events, it appears that ICANN had no idea about the rejection of its bid for long-term running of the IANA contract prior to an announcement being posted on the NTIA's website today.
The organization - which has run the IANA functions for over a decade - is also waiting to hear why the US government feels it has failed to meet the RFP criteria that defined a new, more open approach to the contract.
In a series of sudden and unexpected announcements earlier today, the NTIA first announced it was canceling the entire rebid process for IANA, then that it was canceling it because no one had met its criteria, and then that it was extending ICANN's IANA contract for six months to give it time to re-run the RFP process.
ICANN was aware of the IANA contract extension, having held some discussions in recent days but it appears it was completely unaware that its RFP bid had been rejected - alongside any others that may also have bid - and still has no idea what the reasons are for the rejection.
Update: According to a USG representative we spoke to, since the RFP was run under Federal procurement rules, there are strict laws prohibiting the sharing of information about contract bids, so the USG/NTIA was not in a position to give ICANN forewarning of the rejection of its bid.
The situation is just the latest manifestation of an almost complete breakdown in communication between ICANN and the NTIA.
Normally it would be expected that ICANN was given confidential feedback or at least a heads-up about the rejection of its bid for such a crucial part of the Internet's infrastructure.
Such is the level of mistrust however, particularly surrounding ICANN's CEO Rod Beckstrom and his immediate team, that the organization was apparently given no notice of the decision.
The relationship between ICANN and the NTIA has never been good - it reached an unimpressive peak just prior to the ending of the Joint Project Agreement. But given the importance of the IANA contract not just to the two parties but also to the overall stability of the Internet, a second short-term extension to the contract solely in order to deal with failures in the tendering process is beginning to make it a matter of real concern.
From the NTIA's perspective, it is trying to force ICANN to up its game and start treating the IANA contract like a professional contractor; from ICANN's perspective, it thinks the NTIA is using the IANA contract as a blunt tool to force it to make the changes that it wants to see.
What the outside world is increasingly looking at however is the dangerous politicization of a crucial technical function. Behind the puppet show of Internet governance, the hidden hands of influence are popping into view.