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[ga] Why did ICANN apparently award a $650K contract without any competitive RFP?

  • To: GNSO GA Mailing List <ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [ga] Why did ICANN apparently award a $650K contract without any competitive RFP?
  • From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2013 05:23:36 -0700 (PDT)

Hi folks,

I read that ICANN has awarded a $650,450 contract to Solution Street for the 
development of an Automated Registrar Onboarding System, see:


I was surprised to read that it was "negotiated in good faith", rather than 
being put out to a competitive tender. ICANN maintains a list of RFPs at:


and I don't see it listed there. $650K is a lot of money. Indeed, ICANN's own 
procurement guidelines:


(section 3.1) recommend that there be a formal RFP for purchases exceeding 
$50,000, and indeed a documented one for purchases exceeding $150,000. This 
would of course ensure that the community receives the best possible price for 
the services received. Section 3.2 even states that it is *required* when the 
estimated contract exceeds $250,000, with a "broad solicitation."

While there is supposedly an exception noted (in section 3.3, but only 
apparently applicable for section 3.1, not the $250K+ contracts in 3.2) for:

"When the incumbent provider demonstrates a clear historic pattern of charging 
reasonable prices and providing consistently good quality service."

that seems to be ripe for abuse by ICANN staff, since how do you know 
"reasonable prices" are being charged, when you don't know what competitors 
would have charged for the exact same contract? Remember this is the same ICANN 
staff that contracted with Verisign for 7% annual price increases for the 
dot-com contract, but then were overruled by the Department of Commerce, who 
instead froze prices.

I find it particularly interesting that the contract was apparently awarded to 
"Solution Street", whose Joel Nylund was one of the managers involved with 
Verisign's infamous SiteFinder:


"Scott Hollenbeck: the web bug exists. That was asked at our last session of we 
have plans to cut back on the information that's being passed from via -- the 
web bug to the URL. We have one of our development managers, Joel Nylund, if 
you wanted to say anything more about that."


I strongly suggest that ICANN follow its procurement guidelines, and open this 
contract, and all other contracts, to competitive RFPs that are widely 
advertised, to ensure that the best possible price is obtained from the most 
competitive vendors. Perhaps we'll even see Solution Street be the winner of 
the contract, if they are the most competitive vendor, but at an even lower 
price. That's the benefit of competition. ICANN should not be "partying like 
it's 1999" when they're ultimately spending domain registrants' money. Perhaps 
ICANN's staff should be reacquainted with their own procurement guidelines, so 
that this does not happen again.


George Kirikos

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