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ICANN to issue update on IANA contract

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2012, Domain Policy

This weekend’s shock news that ICANN’s bid to renew its IANA contract with the US government failed is still without an official, detailed explanation, but ICANN may soon reveal more specifics.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Saturday that no bidder for the IANA contract had met its requirements, and that it was canceling the RFP until a later date.
It extended ICANN’s management of IANA for another six months.
CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a press conference here at the public meeting in Costa Rica today that ICANN cannot comment on the reasons its bid was rejected for now.
However, it’s going to meet with the NTIA soon to discuss the matter and may issue an update later.
“We were invited to have a debriefing with them to learn more about this,” Beckstrom said. “Following that discussion we will share any information we are allowed to share.”
Here in San Jose, there are several theories floating around the show floor.
The first hypothesis, which was popular on Saturday but which since seems to have fallen out of favor, is that it was a deliberate attempt to, in the words of one attendee, “fuck with” Beckstrom.
His contract expires in early July, and it was speculated that the NTIA would prefer to deal with his successor on the IANA contract, forcing him to leave the organization on a bum note.
I don’t really buy that. I can’t see the NTIA playing personality politics to that extent, not with the future of internet governance on the line.
The other theory doing the rounds is that ICANN fell foul of some rather esoteric US procurement guidelines – that the NTIA was legally unable to approve its bid.
Others speculate that ICANN just submitted a really crappy response to the RFP, or a response that failed to take the NTIA’s requirements seriously enough.
This seems more likely.
Whatever the reason, the way the news broke – apparently catching ICANN off-guard as much as anybody else – certainly suggests that the NTIA either screwed up its communications or that it wanted to make one of its trademark pre-show sabre-rattling statements.