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Proposed Guidelines for the ICANN Staff Manager's Issue Report - Version 1

Last Updated:
28 March 2018


The staff manager's issue report is the precursor to the GNSO policy development process (PDP). The PDP is relatively new and there has been a high degree of variation in the quality, length and usefulness of the issues reports so far. This is not surprising since Council and staff are still developing procedures. Therefore, Council proposes guidelines to provide structure for future staff manager issue reports. The goal is to ensure that the materials are directly useful to the work of the Council.


An issue report has three objectives:

  • Relevance: to confirm an issue is within ICANN's mission,
  • Description: to explain what the issue is, who it affects, what support there is to address the issue,
  • Recommendation: to recommend whether or not the GNSO should start a PDP.

The by-laws lay down a structure as to how the above objectives may be met.

What SHOULD NOT be in the issues report

The report has a short time frame (15 calendar days). This tells us that it is NOT intended to contain:

  • options for solutions,
  • options for how the Council may proceed,
  • responses to a formal consultation of constituencies (this comes later if the PDP goes ahead),
  • nor should it be necessary to supplement it with documents such as FAQs.

What SHOULD the issues report look like?

It should be the primary document needed for the Council to make a decision whether to proceed or not with a PDP. It should include links to existing documents that provide directly relevant background.

The report must be clear in its recommendation to Council. Past reports have not had this clarity and the GNSO chairman has been obliged to draft terms of reference for a Council WG in an attempt to provide such clarity. It would be more appropriate if the report itself proposed such terms of reference (recognising that Council may choose to modify them). Therefore all future issues reports should contain:

  • proposed terms of reference for a Council working group drafted in a practical and manageable way and reflecting a possible priority of sub-issues.

The length of an issues report will be guided by the topic. Some issues reports may be very short; others may be lengthier but none need be long.

Summary of guidelines

The issue report should:

  1. Describe an issue but NOT explore options.
  2. Provide directly relevant background and links.
  3. Recommend whether to proceed or not.
  4. Propose terms of reference for a Council WG.
  5. Be provided to Council within the 15 day time frame laid out in the by-laws.