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ICANN is about as fast as a pregnant elephant

Kevin Murphy, May 24, 2012, 15:48:11 (UTC), Domain Policy

Making a binding policy at ICANN takes about the same amount of time as gestating a human fetus, but only when the organization and community are working at their absolute fastest.

It’s much more often comparable to an elephant pregnancy.

That’s according to a timetable researched by ICANN senior policy director Marika Konings and circulated to the GNSO Council this week.

Konings found that the latest iteration of the GNSO’s Policy Development Process has to last for a bare minimum of 263 days, three days shorter than the average human pregnancy.

However, that deadline would only be met if ICANN staff were fully resourced, all community participants were firing on all cylinders, and there was full agreement about the policy from the outset.

That’s obviously a completely fanciful, largely theoretical scenario.

The more realistic estimated average time for a PDP to run to completion – from the GNSO Council kick-starting the process with a request for an Issue Report to the ICANN board voting to approve or reject the policy – is 620 days, Konings found.

That’s slightly slower than the gestation period of an Asian elephant.

In other words, if some hypothetical policy work were to start in the GNSO today, we could not reasonably expect to see an outcome one way or the other until February 3, 2014.

Konings’ findings were accompanied by an assessment of eight relatively recent PDPs, which took between 415 days and 1,073 days to reach a board vote. The median time was 639 days.

Some GNSO Councilors think ICANN needs a fast-track PDP for no-brainer policies. I tend to agree.

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Comments (3)

  1. Avri Doria says:

    Well we are comparing apples and pears here.

    The non by-law timings of the new process can be shortened in the g-council should it decide to do so; what was counted was the recommended average time. Also one of the difficult timing items in this equation is the timing for Board mandated comment/response periods. If the Board creates a policy for shortening these when necessary, it may speed u[p the process, especially since the Policy Development Process includes several Public Comment Periods; and not all of them may, e.g., need a response time. The new Policy Development Process allows for a certain amount of flexibility.

    On the other hand, the 600+ day process is the older process, which could meander on forever since the timing was always wrong from the initiation of the process. Under the current Policy Development Process, on day 0, the PDP was already behind schedule

    So we really have no basis to compare. At least not yet.

    But maybe you are right, and the GNSO should set out on another year of PDP process development to develop a a ‘fast-track PDP’. After all what else is it going to do with its resources?

    Finally, I would also think that you have been around long enough to know there are no no-brainer policy issues in ICANN. Well, none that are more of a no-brainer than any of the others, Certainly in the GNSO, generally, one person’s no-brainer is another person’s hard problem.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I think the “no brainer” example that’s come up most often recently was the policy relating to registrars publishing contact details on their web sites. Even the registrars were down with that, iirc.

  2. Ken Stubbs says:

    If you want to see “slow”, try the ITU or the UN policy bodies on for size !

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