auDA: be multi-stakeholder or die

I wrote the following email to the auDA board today. auDA Members want auDA to work. And for it to work it must be a truly multi-stakeholder bottom up consensus driven organisation.

This is a big change from the way auDA has operated over the last two years, and why auDA Members have called for a Special General Meeting.

This afternoon auDA told Members it would be seeking applications to join a Consultation Model Working Group.

The messaging is right, I just now hope that the right process and procedures will follow.

Failure to be multi-stakeholder will result in auDA’s demise.

From: Josh Rowe
to: Chris Leptos, Tim Connell, James Deck, Suzanne Ewart, Sandra Hook, Joe Manariti, Grant Wiltshire, Erhan Karabardak, Cameron Boardman
Date: 3 May 2018 at 12:42
Subject: Multi-stakeholder bottom up consensus

Good Afternoon all,
As I wrote yesterday, I understand there is a handpicked group of people being established to recommend changes to auDA’s constitution.
I encourage the auDA board not to take this top down approach for policy development and constitutional reform.
Multi-stakeholder bottom up consensus works. Bottom up consensus does not prevent the board from inviting specific experts to be part of the consultation process.
Therefore, I encourage the auDA board to adopt a bottom up approach by publicly issuing a Terms of Reference to the Australian Internet community – including businesses, technical experts, civil society, and governments to be able to put their hand up to be involved in a “auDA constitution reform panel”.
The way in which auDA used to engage in a multi-stakeholder bottom up consensus approach was through its advisory panel procedures – which are provided below.
Kind regards


Advisory Panel Procedures (APP)

Version 2.3

1. Introduction

The Board establishes Advisory Panels to develop auDA’s policy and procedures, and to provide expert opinion and guidance to the Board. Panels are expected to provide expert, practical and considered advice after taking suitable steps to establish policies and procedures by consensus and after public consultation.Panels will be provided with sufficient resources to enable them to complete their deliberations and make their reports in a suitable manner. Panels are encouraged to draw upon resources of auDA, in particular its online presence to publicise activities and investigations.

2. Initiation

Panels are initiated by an auDA Board resolution. The Board may at its own discretion initiate a Panel. The board must pass such a resolution if requested in writing by at least 20 auDA members, or 20% of any one auDA membership class, where the request includes the activity the panel will undertake and the expected outcomes.

3. Terms of Reference

In creation of the Panels, the Board will set out the terms of reference of the Panel. The terms of reference will specify the following information:

  1. the activity that the Panel is to undertake, including significant milestones and the outcomes the Panel is expected to deliver
  2. An expected time line including commencement, reporting, public consultation, and completion dates
  3. the Chair of the Panel (if known)
  4. the individuals and representative organisations that will be initially invited to participate in the Panel
  5. a preliminary budget for the Panel to cover the support necessary to meet the objectives

4. Participants

auDA will encourage broad representation on Panels from all key stakeholders including auDA members from each membership class, as well as representation from non-members, by:

  1. actively contacting appropriate organisations and asking them to nominate their own representative for Panel membership. Organisations may change their representative on a panel by written notice to the Panel Chair.
  2. advising of the Panel and its Terms of Reference, and issuing invitations for interested persons to nominate for Panel membership.  Invitations shall be made to auDA members and the broader Australian community through email lists such as the auDA members list and the DNS list, publication on the auDA web site, and other methods as the board sees fit.
  3. actively reviewing the Panel membership to ensure the membership is reasonably balanced between different stakeholders.

Panels will have access to the membership database in order to appoint, co-opt and seek views from members of auDA in order to ensure wide participation from the membership.Where the Panel determines that the current Panel Chair is not appropriate and determines a more suitable candidate, the current Panel Chair may report to the Board and request that the Board consider changing the Chair of the Panel to the nominated person.

Panel participants are expected to make a continuing contribution to the Panel’s work. Participants who are absent from two consecutive Panel meetings without apology or reasonable excuse shall be required to show cause to the Panel Chair why their participation in the Panel should continue.

5. Operational Processes

A Panel is responsible for its operational procedures, including:

  1. determining the process to be followed by the Panel to meet the required outcomes under the Terms of Reference. This includes holding meetings at such times and places as the Panel members think fit, setting or confirming interim project milestones, timetables and deliverables, and if required, establishment of sub-committees to carry out parts of the Terms of Reference.
  2. proposing to the Board any alterations in the Terms of Reference, or specification of work for new standards, policies or projects. The Board will determine whether these new projects will be initiated within the Panel or elsewhere. The Panel shall report to the Board if it requires assistance with any requirements, guidance or resources that the Panel must obtain to carry out the Terms of Reference.
  3. review of input documents and research of relevant base documents such as international and other standards to establish their suitability and relevance to achieving outcomes of the Terms of Reference. In the absence of any base documents, the Panel may set up a drafting group to prepare an initial document for consideration by the Panel.
  4. relative to the Panel’s Terms of Reference, monitoring the effectiveness of auDA procedures and standards relevant to the Panel’s Terms of Reference, developments in the community / industry, and responding to public questions referred to the Panel through auDA.
  5. the Panel chair may convene a Panel meeting at any time by serving reasonable notice upon the members of the Panel. The first meeting of a Panel should:
    1. appoint any officers (including a chair, if necessary) and delegate appropriate responsibilities to them.
    2. confirm that membership of the Panel covers the relevant sections of the community to which the terms of reference apply, and recommend any changes or additions for consideration by the Board
    3. agree milestones, timetable and deliverables based on those in the terms of reference, communicating any proposed changes to the Board and any other relevant Panel.
  6. the Panel via the chair shall report regularly to the Board on the progress of the Panel’s work, including minutes of meetings, and interim and final reports specified in the Terms of Reference. Panels are expected to make progress in a timely and efficient manner. The Board may by resolution require a Panel to provide a status report within 14 days. If a Panel fails to provide a status report to the Board, or does not demonstrate that it is progressing in a timely and efficient manner, the Board may by resolution, take appropriate action.
  7. The Terms of Reference for the Panel shall include a budget for resources that will enable the Panel  to complete its deliberations and make its reports in a suitable manner. In particular, each Panel shall have:
    1. Secretarial support
    2. Budget for meetings and consultations
    3. Resources for email lists and web archives of work in progress and submissions
    4. Other resources such as threaded email lists and chat if appropriate

6. Policy Development

Working within its Terms of Reference and in consultation with the auDA Board, a Panel has the responsibility to produce reports by consensus and with public consultation and input. A Panel shall develop policies/reports:

  1. by consensus. Panel members should always work towards a consensus, rather than maintain absolute positions. The inherent value of the consensus process is that it distils agreement from many different points of view, and allows a broad-based agreement to emerge.Each panel may choose a definition of consensus which suits that panel. Until such a definition is adopted by the panel (which should be noted in its report), consensus is simplistically defined to be achieved when 2/3 of the Panel agrees.Where consensus cannot be achieved, the Chair of a Panel may call a simple vote to determine the members’ views on any controversial matter, but dissenting views should then be reported in the Panel’s findings.
  2. with public consultation. Panels shall consult widely with the Australian Internet community, including other advisory panels, consumer and industry associations and government authorities. Panel policies and documents shall follow the auDA Public Consultation Procedure. Panels will be encouraged to draw upon the resources of auDA to publicise activities and investigations.
  3. in accordance with the auDA constitution and the Panel’s Terms of Reference.

Policies / documents produced by the Panel shall have:

    • ‘Working Paper’ status until the start of the public consultation period.
    • ‘Draft’ status during the first public consultation period.
    • ‘Proposed’ status during the second public consultation period.
    • ‘Report’ status when submitted for approval to the Board.

7. Public Consultation Procedure

    • Draft reports produced by Panels will be subject to the following public consultation process:

      1. the draft report is prepared, together with an agreed accompanying statement signed by the Chair of auDA that states:
        1. an outline of the issue in plain English;
        2. an invitation for public comment;
        3. the timeframe for public comment;
        4. the address for public comment;
        5. the requirements of those who wish to comment;
        6. the procedures to take place after the comment period has closed;
      2. the draft report and accompanying statement are posted to the auDA website
      3. the statement is released to the auDA membership mailing list and the DNS list (and possibly to other relevant mailing lists and stakeholders);
      4. a minimum of 21 days (from the date the statement is sent to the auDA membership list) will be allowed for public comment and consultation;
      5. a revised draft of the report, taking into consideration the comments received, will be placed on the auDA website;
      6. email is sent to the auDA membership mailing list and the DNS list (and any other relevant lists) noting that the revised draft is available;
      7. a minimum of a further 14 days will be allowed for any additional comments and consultation;
      8. public comments will ordinarily be published to the auDA website;
      9. having considered all public input, the Panel will submit a report to the auDA Board for consideration.

The Panel may choose to submit a number of draft papers at the same time when undertaking public consultation.

8. Approval of Advisory Panel Results

    • The Board will ordinarily accept a Report of an Advisory Panel in accordance with the integrity and transparency of the Panel’s development of policy and procedures. Approved Reports will be published to the auDA website, and members will be notified.  The Board should accept / reject a report within 45 days of receiving the report.

If the Board does not approve a report from an Advisory Panel it shall:

      1. advise the Chair of the Panel as to the Board’s views of the report;
      2. invite the Panel to address the Board’s concerns by supplementary report within 14 days (or such other time as the Board determines);
      3. if the Board is still unwilling to approve the report, the matter will be reconsidered at the next Board meeting after due consideration is given to the Panel’s supplementary report; and
      4. the Board will make public its conclusions and publish both the Panel’s report and supplementary report, together with the Board’s reasons for declining to approve any aspect of the Panel’s decisions.

Last updated 7 April, 2000.