23 November, 2010

Where to place the blame?

The discussion on the at-large list began with this comment from IETF Board Liaison Thomas Narten:

"I believe your issue is not with staff, but with the board. Blaming (and venting at) staff, especially when they are not at fault does not help anyone and makes it that much harder for ICANN as a community to get work done."

 A reply from Evan Leibovitch quickly followed:

"The authors and gatekeepers of the DAG -- ICANN staff -- have interpreted GNSO Guideline "H" in a manner that operates completely against the public interest (in the longtime view of At-Large and other ICANN constituencies).  The curent implementation subjects applicants and objectors to spend vast amounts of money on a needlessly litigious process, opening wide opportunities for gaming while forcing ICANN to make (or subcontract) judgments of comparative morality. The CWG was explicit in charting a path that was simpler, less expensive and still accomplished the necessary goals of ensuring that objections were properly evaluated well in advance of any necessary Board action. It fully implemented Guideline H while receiving full community consensus. Yet the Board never heard the case for that path -- I know this because that's what we were told in subsequent conference calls with TLD staff.

Then John Levine enters into the fray:

"There's plenty of blame to go around. ICANN's board has never exercised meaningful authority over the staff. This sort of screwup happens all the time, and I do not know the staff well enough to tell to what extent it's ineptness and to what extent it's insubordination, although it hardly matters. If I had one question for potential board members, it would be "how will you make the board take control of the staff?"

Finally Avri Doria weighs in with this remark:

"I wonder to what extent you or anyone on the Board really knows what the Staff is up to. As I understand it, your only real interface to the Staff is through the CEO, and that the Board does not accept Staff oversight as one of its jobs. I would suggest that those who work with the staff at all levels know better what is actually going on, as we deal with it every day in so many different ways. And let me point out that most all of the staff is doing their best to do what they think they are supposed to be doing, but that does not mean that this is necessarily what is best for ICANN. Determining what is best for ICANN is the job of those of us in the community, including the Board, and not the staff. So when Evan and others describe what is going on, people should take that seriously as opposed to just dismissing it as more uninformed staff bashing.  I understand and commend the feeling that you, as Board members and Board Liaisons, feel that it is a duty to stand up for the staff, but it would be a lot more helpful, if you were doing so from a point of oversight where you actually knew what was up."

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