[DNS] 2009 auDA Board Elections

[DNS] 2009 auDA Board Elections

From: Brett Fenton <brett.fenton§netregistry.com.au>
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2009 13:49:02 +1100
A couple of weeks back Kim (Davies) asked for candidates to clarify their 
positions for the upcoming board elections, and to include contact details.

So my response to that would be:

auDA has run for the last let's call it 10 years. In that time there has been 
one nominal review of it performed by the Federal Government. 

I think the time has come to look at significant review of the existing 
operations of auDA, some of the items have been long talked about but little 
action seems to be occurring.

1. Installation of an independent arbitrator/mediator. This one specifically 
has been being discussed for over 3 years at least. 

Today there is no recourse to dispute any decision that auDA arrive at (other 
than expensive legal action). Grievances include at the Registrant side, 
decisions made by auDA in the revocation of licenses, which as a Registrar we 
see on a daily basis. On the industry side penalty or application of penalty 
has no recourse other than litigation. 

Ultimately in every single legal action that is defended by auDA (generally 
the litigation they have initiated has been a positive thing) the costs of 
that litigation are borne by registrants by way of the domain fee collected on 
each registration. I feel an ombudsman type scheme has the potential to 
resolve some of these issues at a far lower cost to the parties involved. 

2. There is today no formal policy in place for penalty or application of 
penalty within the industry. So what tends to happen is for small infractions 
the threat is often suspension or revocation of a Registrars license. Such a 
heavy handed approach has significant consequence for not only the business 
involved, but all of their registrants. 

It's important that a well defined framework is put in place so that messy 
situations such as the well reported Bottle Domains case aren't repeated. 

I'm not in any way endorsing Bottles actions, simply the matter I don't 
believe was well handled by auDA. A framework that they can operate within, 
combined with an appeals process (see point 1), can only be a positive thing.

3. Historically, auDA board positions were not well contested. Many of the 
'elections' were simply reappointment of incumbent candidates as the board 
position was not contested. 

Today the last sets of elections have in fact been very well contested. 

I feel that it's time to limit the number of consecutive terms board members 
can sit without retiring for a defined period. There are sitting board members 
who have been in position for very extended periods of time, and they have 
during that time done good work. But low rotation of directors tends bring 
with it a degree of hubris. 

I feel 2 consecutive 2 year terms (ie 4 years) should be sufficient for any 
board member to achieve outcomes. 

4. The CEO is a director of auDA, this model while not uncommon I feel 
prevents the CEO being an instrument of the board. I'm sure that Chris will 
have a different perspective on this, but today the role should be separated.

The CEO also doesn't undergo a well structured review process, my experience 
is that the extension to tenure of the position is simply an annual rubber 
stamping affair. It's time that the role was examined, and a best outcome for 
auDA and its constituents decided. 

I'm not advocating by any stretch that Chris be 'boned' to quote Eddie. But I 
think there is a lack of formal process there, and certainly a lack of 
transparency. That in itself is not good governance. This should be addressed 
and improved. If the outcome of this, is that Chris receives a glowing 
endorsement, then that in itself is a good thing. 

I also know that this item is quite likely to cost votes, but so be it, good 
policy is not always popular policy.

5. The membership model today is not working. This is something that again has 
been discussed for a significant period of time. 

Today, supply side membership is dwindling, demand class is littered with 
individuals who are from the supply side. There needs to be reform. 

There has been discussion about making each domain registrant a member. Or 
appointing each nominated reseller/registrar as a member. There has been 
discussion about having a single membership class.

What I'd propose is that the panel process is used to create discussion, to 
open up ideas and finally to make a recommendation to the board. This 
recommendation or series of recommendations can then be put to a vote by the 
existing member classes in either an EGM or AGM. 

6. The current policy review timelines are not well published. Nor are the 
requests for public submissions. I'd call for a 2 and 5 year policy review 
plan to be published with defined dates and timelines for each policy review. 
I'd also call for additional mechanisms to be put in place to circulate 
requests for submission in the public consultation phase. 

These might include direct emails to random subsets of domain registrants, use 
of new media such as twitter, forums, blogs and the like. 

I'd also call on formal auDA participation in relevant forums as part of the 
education focus the organisation delivers. For example it was great to see 
auDA's lawyer Craig Ng recently post on Whirlpool to announce an auDA event. 
I'd like to see this extended to the point of auDA staff participating in 
online discussion which can only assist in education of the wider domain 
market. 

This has turned out to be a much longer email than I'd originally intended, I 
have firm positions on auCD, the auDA Foundation, the high OPEX in certain 
line items of the auDA P&L and I'm more to happy to discuss any of these (or 
the 5 listed items) either on or off list. 

My contact details are:

Brett Fenton
brett.fenton (at) netregistry.com.au
02 9934 0514

Finally, looking at the candidates who are standing this year, there really is 
a very high quality. I wish them all the best, and regardless of whether I am 
personally elected, I hope those who are bring their experience to the board, 
have a positive impact on the board, and that they personally receive 
satisfaction from their time on the board. 

Regards,
Brett Fenton
Received on Wed Oct 07 2009 - 19:49:02 UTC

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