This is being written on August 17, 2001. A link to the minutes was added on August 29.
I learned yesterday that the Executive Committee was holding a meeting.
The Executive Committee is a committee of the Board. (See http://www.icann.org/committees/executive/) The Executive Committee, which consists of but five of the nineteen board members, is empowered to "have and may exercise all of the powers of the Board in the oversight of the management of the business and affairs of the Corporation, including, without limitation, financial matters." The Executive Committee is an extremely powerful committee indeed.
I did not participate in this meeting. In fact, I was not even aware that it had been called.
Notice of this meeting was apparently posted on ICANN's "Calendar of Events" (http://www.icann.org/calendar.htm) at a rather recent date. As far as I can ascertain, no notice of this meeting was given to the Board of Directors in general.
I became aware of the meeting because it was noted in the ICANN Blog - http://www.lextext.com/icann/index.html. I learn more about what ICANN is doing from the Blog than I do from ICANN itself.
I have since received an informal summary of what transpired. From that summary it appears that most of what was done at the meeting was fairly routine and non-controversial. A more complete report on the meeting has been posted at http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-16aug01.htm.
However, there was at least one matter that I would have strongly opposed and voted against had I had the opportunity to do so.
But the issue here is not the nature of the topics discussed and decided.
The issue is ICANN's obligation to be an open and transparent entity.
One would hope that the Executive committee of ICANN would be used only for exigent matters in which there is simply no time to convene the entire board. Speaking from the point of view of a member of ICANN's Board of Directors, the Executive Committee is as opaque and secretive with respect to the general Board as the Board is itself opaque and secretive to the public. In other words, the executive committee is a cabal within a cabal.
As I have noted in previous entries in this diary, the meetings of the full Board are always attended by various people who are not only neither members of the Board nor officers of the corporation. And while the public is being excluded from even passive observation of the meetings, these outsiders freely participate in the discussions. I wonder - were such persons present at the Executive Committee meeting?
Was this Executive Committee meeting something that was warranted given the issues and circumstances?
According to the Calendar of Events this meeting covered the following topics:
None of these topics seem to be such that would justify the extraordinary calling of an Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.
It seems to me that these meetings of the Executive Committee to deal with routine matters are step backwards and increase the already unacceptably wide gap between reality and ICANN's obligations for open and transparent processes:
ARTICLE III: TRANSPARENCY AND PROCEDURES
Section 1. GENERAL
The Corporation and its subordinate entities shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness.