During its meeting on 25 August 2022, the GNSO Council approved the GNSO Guidance Process (GGP) Initiation Request to perform work on Applicant Support. At its meeting on 20 October the GNSO Council agreed to amend the Working Group structure of the GGP to one (1) Member and one (1) Alternate per invited group, from one (1) Member per invited group, in response to a request from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). At the end of October all groups that have agreed to participate in the GGP were advised of the change. The Working Group has subsequently been formed and began its work in November 2022. The Working Group has developed a work plan and timeline, which has been confirmed by the GNSO Council. It has completed Tasks 1 and 2, and is working on Tasks 3, 4, and 5.
The New gTLD Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) Final Report envisioned some levels of substantive work taking place during the Implementation Review Team (IRT) phase of the work, after ICANN Board adoption of the recommendations. For instance, in Topic 17: Applicant Support , Implementation Guidance 17.5, the report suggests the creation of a dedicated IRT and it be charged “with developing implementation elements of the Applicant Support Program. In conducting its work, the Implementation Review Team should revisit the 2011 Final Report of the Joint Applicant Support Working Group as well as the 2012 implementation of the Applicant Support program.” This dedicated IRT was to be charged with making substantive decisions on outreach activities and allocation of scarce resources (e.g., when there are more qualified applicants than available funds), among other activities.
Sometime after the submission of the Final Report, some community members made informal requests to the ICANN staff and Board that formation of this “dedicated IRT” be pulled forward in time (i.e., before Board approval of the Final Report) with the rationale that: (1) it would ensure there was sufficient time to competently complete this complex task to design an effective Applicant Support Program; (2) since this was to be a dedicated team, the effort would not unnecessarily extend the effort of the traditional IRT; and (3) regardless of the timing of the Board approval, having developed an effective Applicant Support Program would be of benefit to ICANN.
On 12 September 2021, the ICANN Board resolved to initiate an Operational Design Phase (ODP). The ODP was officially launched at the beginning of 2022. The ODP Team, in reviewing the recommendations related to Topic 17, was concerned that the work recommended by SubPro was potentially out of scope of the role envisaged by an IRT, per the PDP Manual and Consensus Policy Implementation Framework (CPIF). The Council responded, without opining on whether the work presented a scope issue, but rather, committed to providing guidance on select topics where additional substantive work was envisaged by the recommendations and implementation guidance contained in the Final Report.
The Council has determined that the provision of guidance is best accomplished via the GNSO Guidance Process (GGP). This would accomplish the twin goals of pulling the work forward to avoid becoming the “tall pole” in the next round launch and providing sufficient time and the correct resources to devise an Applicant Support program that would expand the regional and language diversity of the new gTLD Program.
The Council, in consultation with the ODP Team via its liaison, also understands that there are a select number of topics and Outputs where additional work may be necessary prior to the official Implementation phase. This GGP is currently limited to the topic of Applicant Support, but the Council may add additional topics as deemed necessary and agreed upon by vote of the Council.
This GGP will operate as a Working Group, which may initiate sub-teams if the need arises. This GGP Working Group will follow the method of operation as detailed in the GNSO Working Group Guidelines, with the additional provisions below. The GGP Working Group will employ a “Representative + Observers” model, consisting of Members and Observers.
The “Representative + Observers” model is chosen to enable the GGP Working Group to conduct and conclude its work in an efficient/effective manner while allowing for inclusive community participation. As this GGP builds on the existing SubPro work and is intended to conclude in an expeditious manner, Members must either possess a level of expertise in previous deliberations and/or knowledge that may have been lacking during those initial deliberations.
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