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GAC Working Group Procedures

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) was created under Article XI of the ICANN Bylaws.

“The GAC should consider and provide advice on the activities of ICANN as they relate to concerns of governments, particularly matters where there may be an interaction between ICANNs policies and various laws and international agreements or where they may affect public policy issues.”1

The GAC has developed its own Operating Principles to govern its operations. Under those principles:

“The GAC Chair may call for the creation of Committees and Working Groups to address matters that relate to concerns of governments and where they may affect public policy issues. Accredited GAC representatives may designate advisers to serve on such committees.”2

Both historically and currently the GAC has made use of this provision in its Operating Principles to establish a range of Working Groups on a range of topics. Currently the GAC has seven active Working Groups.3

Current Situation

The Operating Principles do not describe how a GAC Working Group is to be convened, established, managed, recorded or lapsed.

Historically the management of Working Groups has been left to the approach of the individual taking the lead for the group. This practice has resulted in a wide range of approaches in the management of GAC Working Groups and a diverse range of Working Group outcomes and results.

In an attempt to establish a systematic approach to the nature and quality of the output of GAC Working Groups, the GAC Leadership Team has decided to establish GAC Working Group Procedures.

Currently these procedures are documented in this draft Procedures Document. In the future they may be included in the GAC Operating Principles.

Roles and Responsibilities

Each GAC Working Group will allocate GAC representatives to the following roles who will be responsible for the associated responsibilities:

Working Group Chair (or Co-Chair)

  • Ask the ICANN GAC Support team to create a mailing list for the Working Group.
  • Ask the ICANN GAC Support team to create an online space (within the GAC website) for the Working Group.
  • Send a request to GAC Members, calling for volunteers for Working Group participants.
  • Prepare draft Terms of Reference for the Working Group. Circulate these to the Working Group for review, comment and (finally) consensus agreement.
  • Send the agreed Terms of Reference to the GAC Leadership Team for comment and/or endorsement.
  • Prepare a draft Work Plan for the Working Group. Circulate the work plan to the Working Group for review, comment and (finally) consensus agreement. Balance the time commitments of the members of the Working Group with the need for an outcome, as the work plan is developed.
  • Send the agreed work plan to the GAC Leadership Team for comment and/or endorsement.
  • Implement the agreed work plan via the online workspace, teleconference and/or face-to-face meetings and direct the discussion of the Working Group
  • Convene meetings of the Working Group (both face-to-face and via teleconference) as required. It is up to the Working Group Chairs to initiate meetings, if meetings are necessary, and to ensure meeting notifications, agendas, minutes and any other meeting documents are circulated in a timely fashion.
  • Prepare a draft agenda for each teleconference or face-to-face meeting. Circulate to working group for comment and/or endorsement.
  • Chair the meetings of the Working Group.
  • Take and maintain records of the meetings of the Working Group (or direct others to do so).
  • Place all records on the online space for the Working Group (or direct others to do so).
  • Use the agreed work plan to manage the activity of the Working Group. Take action to encourage progress if work stalls or slows.
  • As required, appoint liaisons for the Group to other Working Groups within GAC, and/or within ICANN.
  • Review documents and outputs of the Working Group.
  • Review and amend the work plan as required, in consultation with the Working Group.
  • If assistance is required from the ACIG GAC Secretariat or the ICANN GAC Support team, liaise with those teams and the GAC Chair to determine resourcing priorities.
  • Circulate Working Group outcomes and recommendations to the GAC members and leadership on behalf of the Working Group.
  • Prepare briefings for GAC about Working Group progress. Briefings for each of GAC’s face-to-face meetings must be finalised at least three weeks prior to the meeting date.
  • Gather feedback from GAC members and input it to the Working Group process.
  • Determine, with the Working Group, when the activities of the Working Group will be deemed complete. Advise the GAC Leadership Team.

Working Group Team Member

  • Contribute constructive input to the activities of the Working Group
  • Attend meetings of the Working Group (whether face to face or by teleconference) and contribute as appropriate. Appoint a delegate to attend if the Team Member is unavailable, to assure continuity of activity.
  • Develop and review Working Group outputs consistent with the Work Plan and as directed by the Working Group/Chairs/s.
  • Participate in cross-constituency liaison activity on behalf of the Working Group, as directed by the Working Group Chair or Co-Chair

GAC Leadership

  • Call for the creation of a GAC Working Group (and record this decision)
  • Communicate the creation of a GAC Working Group to other constituencies (via the ICANN GAC Support Staff)
  • Call for a Chair or Co-Chair of a GAC Working Group
  • Endorse the agreed Terms of Reference of the Working Group
  • Endorse the agreed Work Plan for the Working Group
  • Review the outputs of the Working Group
  • In consultation with the Working Group Chair/s, determine when a Working Group is to formally lapse (and record this decision)

GAC Members

  • GAC Working Groups are open to all GAC Members. Participation of GAC Representatives is encouraged.
  • Review and comment on relevant outputs of the Working Group
  • Determine whether or not to endorse a recommendation of the Working Group (if requested)

ACIG GAC Secretariat

  • Upon request, the ACIG GAC Secretariat may provide support and assistance to the activities of the Working Group. However this support is not part of ACIG’s service level agreement and can only be provided in accordance with the resourcing priorities determined by the GAC Chair.
  • Therefore at the request of the GAC Chair and as directed by the Working Group Chair/s ACIG may:
  • Support the Chair or Co-Chair in the creation of the Terms of Reference and Work Plan documents.
  • Take and maintain the minutes of GAC Working Groups (if directed by the Working Group Chair or Co-Chair).
  • Prepare and circulate meeting notifications, agendas, minutes and any other meeting documents.
  • Prepare and/or circulate other relevant documents.

ICANN GAC Support Staff

  • Create a mailing list for the Working Group
  • Create an online space for the Working Group (as directed by the Chair or Co-Chair)
  • Organise online meeting sessions and forums for meetings (as directed by the Chair or Co-Chair)
  • Organise meeting rooms and facilities management for face to face meetings (as directed by the Chair or Co-Chair)
  • Communicate the creation of a GAC Working Group to other constituencies (as directed by the GAC Leadership)
  • Take and maintain the minutes of GAC Working Groups (if directed by the Working Group Chair or Co-Chair)
  • Ensure the Working Group Chair/s is aware of ICANN activities relevant to the activities of the Working Group

Conduct of GAC Working Groups

GAC Working Groups are tasked with a range of important projects and activities, no two of which are the same. It is therefore not feasible to describe each task and how it should be approached in detail. That is the purpose of each Working Group’s Work Plan.

However GAC Working Groups should conduct their business according to the below procedures as much as possible:

  1. GAC Working Groups should meet as much as possible inter-sessionally at regular intervals, using electronic/teleconferencing mechanisms. ICANN GAC Support can schedule inter- sessional meetings at the Working Group Chairs request.
  2. To the extent possible, GAC Working Groups should use their assigned online space to facilitate the exchange of information and views.
  3. GAC Working Groups should generally meet prior to formal GAC meetings. This will ensure that the Working Group Chairs are subsequently able to present their group’s output to the GAC Plenary during the formal meetings. Ideally this will be in the form of recommendations for a GAC collective decision.
  4. In-person GAC Working Group meetings should not be scheduled at a time that conflicts with a formal GAC session during a face to face ICANN meeting.
  5. If a GAC Working Group wishes to meet in-person during a face to face ICANN meeting, the Working Group Chair needs to advise ICANN GAC Support a minimum of 8 weeks in advance. This meets the room and facilities booking deadlines imposed by ICANN. Requirements such as numbers, room size, recording (or not), translation (or not), projection (or not), transcribing (or not) need to be articulated at this early stage.
  6. GAC Working Group outputs are not to be considered a GAC consensus document or advice until such time as they have been formally endorsed by the whole GAC and this fact has been recorded by the GAC and by the GAC Working Group Chair.
  7. GAC Working Groups may wish to involve the rest of the GAC during a formal GAC meeting during the main (plenary) GAC agenda. Where this is the case the preferred approach is:
    1. If the purpose of the involvement is only to update GAC members on the progress of the Working Group, then a briefing paper should be prepared by the Working Group and included in the agenda distribution pack by the ACIG GAC Secretariat;
    2. If the purpose of the involvement is to invite GAC input to a particular issue, question or recommendation by the Working Group, or to seek to make a Working Group output a consensus GAC document, then an appropriate timeslot should be added to the agenda to enable this dialogue. This should be determined at least 8 weeks in advance of the GAC Meeting.

Templates

All GAC Working Groups require the following documents to be completed as part of the Working Group initiation process:

  1. A Terms of Reference; and
  2. A Work Plan.
  3. The templates for these documents can be found at the Appendices to this Procedures document. Working Groups may also produce a range of other documents, but these will vary depending on the nature of the project or task that the Working Group is undertaking. Upon request the ACIG GAC Secretariat and the ICANN GAC Support Team may be able to provide templates or formats to support other work of the Working Group. The Working Group Chair or Co-Chair should actively seek support on this matter from either or both teams by emailing gac-staff@icann.org.