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titleGNSO Review 2014 Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the 2014 Review of the GNSO. To see the most current FAQs on this page, please click here
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Why is there a GNSO Review?

ICANN’s Bylaws require that its structures, including the GNSO, be reviewed on a five-year cycle. According to the Bylaws, the goal of the review is “to determine (i) whether that organization has a continuing purpose in the ICANN structure, and (ii) if so, whether any change in structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness.” 

This review is part of ICANN’s commitment to continuous improvement, accountability and transparency. It uses mechanisms and measures to maintain public confidence in the viability, reliability and accountability of ICANN.

The GNSO Review addresses the new, improved approach to conducting reviews. It will inform the work on evolving ICANN’s Review Framework, as part of the broader accountability discussion.

What is the scope of the GNSO Review?

Based on direction from the Board, the current review comprises of an examination of the GNSO’s organizational effectiveness in accordance with the ICANN-provided objective and quantifiable criteria. The Structural Improvements Committee of the Board (SIC) is responsible for the oversight of ICANN’s structural reviews. 

Within the organizational effectiveness context, the review will focus on addressing areas such as purpose of the organization; its processes and means of conducting its work; and its outcomes. The operations of the GNSO Working Groups, the GNSO Council and the GNSO Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies will be evaluated. Structural topics are likely to come up as part of this work.

The current review will include an assessment of the effectiveness of structural changes that resulted from the last review, as it relates to the organizational effectiveness of the GNSO.  The 360 Assessment and interviews will provide the community with an opportunity to express their position on the GNSO structure. 

Whether structural changes are needed and when such changes should be considered would be topics for discussion after the GNSO review is finalized, possibly during the implementation planning, depending on the nature of findings and recommendations. 

What role does the Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board play in the GNSO Review?

The Structural Improvements Committee (SIC) of the ICANN Board is responsible for review and oversight of policies relating to ICANN’s ongoing organizational review process, as mandated by

Article IV,

Section 4.4(a) (Periodic Review of ICANN Structure and Operations) of ICANN’s Bylaws.  For more information see the Charter of the SIC.  In addition to providing oversight, the SIC confirmed the Independent Examiner, will accept the final report and the implementation plan and prepare recommendations for Board action.

Will the review propose changes to the GNSO Structure?

While we cannot speculate what the outcome of the Review will be, the mandate outlined in the Request for Proposal does NOT include proposing a new structure.

Based on the scope of the review of the organizational effectiveness of the GNSO, the review will focus on addressing areas such as purpose of the organization; its processes and means of conducting its work; and its outcomes. The operations of the GNSO Working Groups, the GNSO Council and the GNSO Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies will be evaluated. Structural topics are likely to come up as part of this work.

The review and its requirements will be managed in a clear and scheduled process, empowering the GNSO and broader community to be a part of the solution and improvement efforts.

Who will perform the Review?

While an Independent Examiner will perform the review, the GNSO community also has an important role: performing a self-assessment, providing direct input and implementing improvements.

How was the Independent Examiner selected?

The selection of an Independent Examiner is done in accordance with the process originally outlined in Systematization of Organizational Reviews Processes and ICANN’s procurement policy.  The process is adjusted to include continuous process improvements and lessons learned.   The selection involves Organizational Review and Procurement staff and the Organizational Effectiveness Committee of the Board (OEC).  A competitive bidding process was launched on 23 April 2014 with an open Request for Proposal for Review of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). Seven submitted proposals were carefully evaluated and the results and scores were presented for consideration and action by the ICANN Board Organizational Effectiveness Committee (formerly the Structural Improvements Committee).

In connection with the open competitive bidding process used to select the independent examiner, the seven proposals were reviewed and evaluated for all data responsive to the RFP, not just the low bid.   Price was one of many considerations.  Bids received ranged from less than $50,000 to over $1 million, with the lowest and highest representing significant outliers.  Westlake’s bid pricing was in the median range when adjusting for the significant outliers.  Once all bids were evaluated, Westlake was selected as the most qualified consultant relative to, but not limited to, the following high level selection criteria:

1) Understanding of the assignment

2) Knowledge and expertise

a. Demonstrated experience in conducting broadly similar examinations

b. Not-for-profit experience

c. Basic knowledge of ICANN

d. Geographic and cultural diversity, multilingualism, gender balance

e. Suitability of proposed CVs

3) Proposed methodology

a. Work organization, project management approach, timelines

b. Suitability of tools and methods or work

c. Clarity of deliverables

4) Flexibility, including but not limited to meeting the timeline

5) Reference checks

6) Financial value

7) Conflict of Interest

Who has been selected as the Independent Examiner?

Westlake Governance Limited was selected as the Independent Examiner for the GNSO Review.  Westlake Governance is a globally-focused, New Zealand-based consulting firm, serving clients from a wide cross-section of not-for-profit, commercial and government-owned sectors. The firm has performed reviews of ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee ("ALAC") and the Root Server System Advisory Committee ("RSSAC"). (See Announcement of Westlake Governance Appointment.)

Review Methodology

The methodology used for the GNSO Review followed best practices and professional standards for independence, proficiency and due professional care.  The current GNSO Review achieved 178 completed 360 Survey responses and 40 one-on-one interviews, compared with an average of 71 survey responses and 60 interviews for prior Organizational Reviews.  Information was collected through a variety of means – online 360 Survey with quantitative and qualitative aspects, one-on-one interviews that resulted in twice as many individuals interviewed as originally planned, extensive desk review of documents and in-person observations during three ICANN meetings.  Additionally, Westlake participated in the majority of the 21 GNSO Review Working Party calls and 23 public sessions held at ICANN meetings and considered feedback provided by the GNSO Review Working Party as well as by others through formal  public comment process and other feedback means.  The Independent Examiner provided their rationale in response to community feedback throughout the process (for example, see Comparison Chart).

How can individuals and groups within the GNSO structure get involved?

You can get involved in a variety of ways. For groups, a call has gone out to each GNSO Stakeholder Group and Constituency to consider designating a representative to join the GNSO  Review Working Party. Other Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees interested in joining the GNSO Review Working Party can appoint an observer.

Any interested individual is invited to provide direct input to the GNSO Review Working Party by contacting and/or by participating in the 360 Assessment.

What is the 360 Assessment and how will it be used?

A new component within the organizational review, the 360 Assessment is designed to gather data for the Independent Examiner to use in the GNSO Review process and also may inform GNSO self-improvement efforts. This online tool will collect feedback from the GNSO community, other ICANN structures and community members, the Board and staff. The 360 Assessment questions have been developed based on criteria that will be used for the overall GNSO Review.

The 360 Assessment will be launched in August 2014 with a public announcement and all interested individuals are invited to participate. 

The 360 Assessment has been formulated and implemented by the Independent Examiner.  The GNSO Review Working Party has provided extensive feedback on the design and the questions, but the actual 360 Assessment will be conducted and implemented by the Independent Examiner with support from staff.   The Independent Examiner used the feedback provided by the GNSO Review Working Party and other community members to formulate the 360 Assessment, ensuring that this tool collects adequate information from a broad group of people to meet the needs of data gathering for their review work.  The data collected via the 360 Assessment will be summarized and analyzed by the Independent Examiner, and used as an input into their review work.

What happens to the information submitted as part of the 360 Assessment?

The Independent Examiner, Westlake Governance Limited (Westlake) has developed and is managing the 360 Assessment as an important component of the full review. Westlake will collate, analyze and summarize all responses, and will supplement the assessment survey with other methods of data collection including a review of documents and one-on-one interviews.

Individual responses will not be made available publicly. Your input will remain confidential to Westlake as the Independent Examiner. Additional information will be provided in the instructions accompanying the 360 Assessment.

What is the GNSO Review Working Party and what is its role?

The Structural Improvements Committee of the Board (SIC) has requested that a GNSO Review Working Party be assembled to act as a liaison between the GNSO, the Independent Examiner and the SIC. The Working Party will also provide input on review criteria and the 360 Assessment, coordinate interviews and objectively supply clarification and responses to the draft findings and recommendations. Once the final report is issued and the Board takes action on it, the GNSO Review Working Party is expected to coordinate with the GNSO community to prepare an Implementation Plan and champion implementation of improvement activities.

The membership of the GNSO Review Working Party includes members representing the diversity of the GNSO community. The activities of the GNSO Review Working Party are conducted in an open and fully transparent manner. Contact for more information.  See activities of the GNSO Review Working Party on their wiki. 

A call has gone out to each GNSO Stakeholder Group and Constituency to consider designating a representative to join the GNSO Review Working Party. The names of the proposed candidates were submitted to the GNSO Secretariat ( Other Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees interested in joining the GNSO Review Working Party can appoint an observer. For more information, please see GNSO Review: Forming GNSO Review Working Party.

What methods will the Independent Examiner use to collect data and information?

The Independent Examiner may use the following methods to gather information:

  • Examination of available documentation, records, and reports;
  • Outcomes from the 360 Assessment, an online mechanism to collect and summarize feedback from members of the GNSO structure, interested members from ICANN community and other structures, members of the Board and staff;
  • Integration of Assessments of the Second Accountability and Transparency Review Team
  • (See: Appendix A of the Second Accountability and Transparency Review Team Report and Recommendations); and
  • Limited interviews, as needed.

The review methodology will involve collection of both quantitative and qualitative data to provide the Independent Examiner with a sufficient basis for formulating findings and recommendations.  The online 360 Assessment will have places for free-form feedback in addition to collecting structured responses. The Independent Examiner will conduct one-on-one interviews to supplement information gathered through the 360 Assessment and review of documents as necessary. 

How will individuals be selected for interviews with the Independent Examiner?

One-on-one interviews will be used to supplement other means of gathering information.  Candidates for the interviews will be selected based on input and recommendations from the GNSO Review Working Party.  Additional interviewees may be selected from individuals responding to the 360 Assessment.

What happens when the Independent Examiner completes the review?

Once the Independent Examiner collects sufficient information and formulates his/her analysis and preliminary findings, he/she will engage with the GNSO to validate the accuracy and completeness of findings and the usefulness and feasibility of draft recommendations. The Draft Report, reflecting clarification and responses from the GNSO, will be published for public comment. The report will be updated to reflect public comments and published in its final form.  The final report, along with public comments, will be considered by the Board. After the Board takes action and accepts the report, the implementation phase will begin.

What’s the timeline for the GNSO Review?

Please see the chart below for key dates proposed for the GNSO Review.



RFP published

21 April 2014

Briefing with GNSO (webinar)

7 May

GNSO to identify GNSO Review Working Party

19 May

Refine examination criteria


Public announcement  of independent reviewer

23 June

Start of review work

23 June

Implement 360 assessment

August 2014

Summary results from 360 Assessment

September 2014

Draft Report 1

April 2015


Clarification and rebuttal from GNSO

May 2015

Draft Report 2

1 June 2015

Public comment period

June – July 2015

Final Report

August 2015

Preparation of Implementation Plan

February – March 2015

Implement Recommendations

April 2015 – February 2016

Dates represent best estimates at the time the FAQs were updated and may change.


How will we know whether the recommendations made a difference?

The impact of implemented improvements will be tracked, measured and reported. In addition, al ICANN community members will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the implemented improvements through the 360 Assessment, which is expected to become a standard part of the organizational review process.

Have other questions?

Please email your questions to or

Past FAQs

 Please click below to download the original GNSO Review FAQs in PDF format.