[ga] Re: Why did ICANN apparently award a $650K contract without any competitive RFP?
- To: GNSO GA Mailing List <ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [ga] Re: Why did ICANN apparently award a $650K contract without any competitive RFP?
- From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2013 04:55:36 -0700 (PDT)
Having received no response in over 2 weeks, I've submitted various questions
related to this issue to be answered at Thursday's Public Forum. I'll copy
ICANN's answers, if any, from the Transcript to this mailing list, to have some
"closure" to this issue.
From: George Kirikos
Company: Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.
Location: Toronto, Canada
According to section 1.c of the minutes of the June 27 Board meeting:
ICANN "negotiated in good faith" terms for a $650,450 contract related to the
development of the Automated Registrar Onboarding System (AROS) with a
3rd-party vendor. The Board authorized the proposed agreement.
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 open and
closed RFPs at:
and the AROS contract is not listed. ICANN has procurement guidelines which
in section 3.2 that "a broad solicitation…..is **recommended** for use whenever
the estimated purchase contract exceeds $150,000 and is **required** whenever
the estimated contract exceeds $250,000." Note the word "required" is open to
only one interpretation.
While section 3.3 lists a number of exceptions, they apparently apply only to
contracts worth less than $150,000 (see opening sentence of section 3.1). One
of the exceptions is, for example "When the incumbent provider demonstrates a
clear historic pattern of charging reasonable prices and providing consistently
good quality service." This exception appears ripe for abuse by ICANN staff,
since how does one know "reasonable prices" are being charged, when one doesn't
know what competitors would have charged for the exact same contract?
1. Did ICANN issue a RFP for the AROS contract? If not, why not?
2. If there was no RFP, how does ICANN know it received the best possible price
for the contract terms?
3. Are there any other contracts exceeding $250,000 that ICANN has entered into
in the past 12 months that have been awarded without competitive RFPs? If so,
which ones and with which vendors?
4. Will ICANN follow its procurement guidelines, meant to ensure that "vendors
and service providers are selected fairly and objectively with the highest
ethical standards and appropriate levels of disclosure" by issuing competitive
RFPs for any past contracts that slipped through the cracks?
5. I brought up this issue on the ICANN GA mailing list on June 29, with copies
to ICANN's CEO, CFO and Chairman, but did not receive a response. This happens
all too often to ICANN stakeholders. What mechanism, outside of asking
questions 3 times a year at ICANN Public Forums, does ICANN have in place for
getting answers to important questions of concern to the public the other 362
days of the year?
From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
To: GNSO GA Mailing List <ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "fadi.chehade@xxxxxxxxx" <fadi.chehade@xxxxxxxxx>;
"xavier.calvez@xxxxxxxxx" <xavier.calvez@xxxxxxxxx>; "steve.crocker@xxxxxxxxx"
Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2013 8:23 AM
Subject: Why did ICANN apparently award a $650K contract without any
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
(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.