NomCom leadership refuses to respond to criticism

One day after ICANN's crucial nominating committee was faced with serious accusations of misconduct, its leadership has responded… by refusing to discuss any of the allegations made against them.

Councillors of ICANN's main policy body, the GNSO, were surprised yesterday when chair Vanda Scartezini and chair-elect Yrjo Lansipuro refused to respond to allegations made by former chair-elect Rob Hall.

Hall resigned after he said he was "sickened" by the committee's behavior as it chose three members of the ICANN Board earlier this year. He claims that committee members had engaged in serious lobbying; ignored formal advice from the ICANN Board; promoted colleagues ahead of better qualified candidates; and used the committee as a source of free travel and accommodation to ICANN meetings.

"These are some very serious allegations," a GNSO councilor told Scartezini and Lansipuro, "what measures will you take to ensure they are precluded next year?" Lansipuro responded that he "did not recognize" the committee as described by Hall, nor the "person who was quoted".

A second councilor pushed back: "This criticism of the way the NomCom operates is not new. I am wondering whether the NomCom plans to respond to such allegations and set things straight."

Scartezini refused. "The NomCom is an independent group supported by ICANN. We supply information to the Board about what is going on. It is not for the NomCom to react. The NomCom will not feed any gossip."

GNSO chair Stephane van Gelder interjected: "My advice would be for the committee to try to understand if there is some truth in these allegations - something that is missing from your reaction."

Scartezini again stonewalled: "You will have a chance to comment on Wednesday at a public session… We are a group of volunteers, we are not there to accept accusations."

That response was not met with enthusiasm. "I would expect a more thorough response," one councilor noted.

After the meeting, new chair-elect Yrjo Lansipuro again refused to answer questions about the allegations, stating that he was under a confidentiality contract and was not allowed to discuss what had happened.

Lansipuro did note that the previous committee has made recommendations, and the new committee for 2013 would consider them. However, he admitted that those recommendations would not be made public. Nor will the agenda of the committee meeting where they are due to be discussed; nor that meeting's time, place or date.

Asked if the Nominating Committee's leadership intended to ignore Hall's criticisms, Lansipuro answered simply: "Yes."

Comments

Appointments Committee

While ICANN borrowed it names from the IETF Nomcom, it did not borrow some of its most important elements.

1. That the slate of nominees is approved by someone. In the case of ICANN, there needs to be a way to get community approval to the slate. It is inappropriate for a nominating committee to be able to make appointments with no notion of community approval.

2. The members are picked at random from the participants who volunteer, and not by power brokers who can hold their representatives to task.

3. The process itself is completely transparent. What is under a shield of confidentiality are the identities of those considered. How the committee works is open for all to see and to question.

ICANN needs to fix these elements. While I still would prefer to go back to the notion of voting that was savaged in the change to ICANN 2.0, if we are going to use a nominating committee, we need to learn how to do it properly. Until we do, its results will always be suspect.

recommendations

penultimate paragraph, the recommendations from the 2012 NomCom can be read in the 2012 NomCom report, linked from http://nomcom.icann.org Item 12 in the index.

Adam

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Recommendations in full

Those recommendations from the report - downloadable here - are reproduced in full below:


NOMCOM 2012 PROCEDURES RECOMMENDATIONS

These recommendations are additional to the existing procedures. They may be new rules or just clarifying existing rules.

General Rules of Participation:

NomCom operates under multiple and competing pressures. It has to maintain both confidentiality and transparency. It has to listen to the advice from the Board, Supporting Organizations (SOs), Advisory Councils (ACs), and constituencies but keep its independence. It has to be free to gather information from all sources, but it has to be independent-minded enough to repel attempts to inappropriately influence its choices, wherever they come from. NomCom members should develop common understanding of the above facts.

NomCom is, by definition, a diverse cultural and linguistic group. All members should speak slowly and in understandable English, avoiding colloquialisms that may cause differing interpretations or incomprehension amongst non-native English speakers. All members should encourage colleagues to express their opinions and give time to each member to do so.

Ethics

  • NomCom recommends the creation of either (a) an ICANN Chief Ethics Officer or (b) an ICANN appointed outside ethics contact for the NomCom (An experienced ethics attorney, for instance).
  • NomCom selection meetings may be supported by a member of ICANN’s General Counsel’s office, at the discretion of the Chair.

    NomCom members are forbidden to identify any person as candidate to anyone in any conversation outside NomCom. It remains to the candidate’s discretion as to whether to make his/her candidacy public.

  • Since it is important to have the feeling of the community, members can listen to any comments from people inside or outside the community to build their own picture about any candidate. Members may share the views with other members without identifying the source of the views.
  • The Conflict of Interest disclaimer agreed upon at the beginning of the committee’s work must be upheld during the whole year of the committee’s work. Any change in any member´s conflict during the period shall be disclosed to the NomCom’s Conflict of Interest committee. The information and conclusion of the committee shall be submitted to the whole NomCom. Members shall not come to the committee with a pre-determined candidate and lobby inside the committee. (Yes! But how to enforce or even prove?) Arguments in favor and against any candidate are free inside the committee, observing rules of general diplomacy when talking about any candidate with the whole committee or any other member.
  • The Chair and Chair Elect should remain impartial and refrain from expressing their
    opinions and preferences within the committee or outside of it. The Chair is a nonvoting member of the NomCom and his/her role is to facilitate the process of reaching consensus on selectees. The Chair Elect is a non-voting advisory member of the Committee. The Chair Elect’s role is to help the Chair in their tasks and help the members to understand their role and the processes, as well as preparing to chair the subsequent NomCom.

NomCom work and its Selection Process

  • NomCom starts its mandated work for a defined year immediately after the end of
    the ICANN Annual General Meeting* at a Face-2-Face (F2F) meeting.
  • Existing documents to support NomCom work process, such as procedures, guidelines, candidate application form, recommendations etc., shall be reviewed during the first F2F meeting* to consider any different approaches needed for the year.
  • Decisions with regard to enlisting a professional consulting company to help the NomCom with candidate evaluation process shall be made at the first F2F meeting to allow the administrative process to run in a timely fashion.
  • Decisions about phone calls and time to respond during the evaluation process shall be agreed to prior to the start of such process (considering time zones and possible time rotation).
  • The selection process should be defined, agreed upon and documented in advance of the start of such process (e.g. voting procedures as to the number of votes, number of run-offs, cut-off levels, collecting, organizing and reporting of the votes etc.).
  • Face to face (F2F) interviews are restricted to board candidates selected during the evaluation process.
  • The face to face candidate interviews should be limited to two full days.
  • NomCom members are strongly encouraged and must make every effort to attend interviews. As a matter of respect for the candidates, members should attempt to minimize distractions during the interview. Members should pay attention to the body language, content of the answers and tone of the interview, to build a clear view of each candidate.
  • Tools to facilitate the selection process shall be available and members shall have a session of training during the second F2F meeting*.

* ICANN promotes three public meetings each year: the first public meeting of the year occurs around the first quarter of the Gregorian Calendar (typically March).The second public meeting of the year occurs at the end of the second quarter (typically June) and the last public meeting of the year or Annual General Meeting (AGM) occurs during the last quarter (from October to December).

Logistics

  • The location of candidate interviews and selection meeting is not required to take place at the same location as the second public ICANN meeting* Decisions about when and where to have the interviews and selection meeting shall be decided in advance, taking into account Committee preferences and staff advice about cost.
  • As the outreach process is of huge importance, the first public meeting of the year* will be the first possibility for NomCom members to dedicate time to reaching the community and must be considered mandatory for all NomCom members.
  • The NomCom should meet (where possible) once a day during the outreach meeting (first ICANN meeting of the year*) to exchange opinions, suggestions, be trained on tools and work on the selection task they face.
  • The Chair and Chair Elect shall meet with each AC and SO to receive their recommendations about candidate skill sets, both for the Board and their own organizations. NomCom suggests having an additional meeting with the BGC. These meetings shall occur at the Annual General Meeting* and at the first ICANN public meeting of the year*.
  • NomCom will hold an open meeting in all ICANN meetings to update the community on the status of its work; allow the community to participate, take questions and hear suggestions for the improvement of NomCom.
  • Meetings with ACs and SOs are open to any NomCom Member available to attend and it will be at the discretion of each member to participate. The recommendations resulting from such meetings shall be documented and presented to NomCom members, the community and posted on NomCom web page.
  • The NomCom should receive regular statistics on the use and activity on the NomCom web page.
  • At the conclusion of the selection process the Chair shall provide a NomCom report with all results, statistics explaining the mapping between each candidate selected and the recommended skill sets received from the Board, ACs, SOs and constituencies.
  • Other relevant events for outreach, such as regional meetings or pre-IGFs are an opportunity for NomCom members to attend and talk about NomCom the opportunity for participation in ICANN. These events shall be identified and prioritized as soon as possible to decide who may attend on behalf of the NomCom. The Chair and Chair Elect have the main responsibility to represent the NomCom publicly in external meetings.

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