ICANN Ombudsman Blog Creating Dialogue Affirming Fairness

June 28, 2011

ICANN’s 41st Meeting Singapore – Interim Ombudsman Report to Board

Filed under: icann meetings — herb.waye @ 7:32 am

Interim Ombudsman Report to Board

Singapore 41

June 24, 2011

Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, members of the Board, ladies and gentleman, good morning.

I have been working for the Office of the Ombudsman since shortly after its inception and have had the opportunity to attend many ICANN meetings as Adjunct to the Ombudsman; this is my second ICANN meeting as Interim Ombudsman.

Mr. Chairman, to briefly summarize the activities of the Office since I assumed the role of Interim Ombudsman, there have been 10 complaints received by the Office since January 2011. This compares to 33 complaints lodged in the same period last year, January to June 2010. This is a noticeable reduction but I will mention that most of the complaints received for both years were non-jurisdictional and resolved through self-help or referral. I am hoping the reduction this year is due to education and a better understanding by the community regarding self-help and dispute resolution, as a result of information that is now available on the ICANN web pages and the Ombudsman web site.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board and members of ICANN staff who have assisted me over the last 6 months. Your support, cooperation and assistance have been critical to the success of the Office.

There have been no outreach activities since the departure of the Ombudsman in January of this year; in my role as Interim Ombudsman I have chosen to focus my energy internally rather than externally.

I would like to acknowledge to the ICANN Board and community that there will be a delay in publishing an Annual Report for 2010. This, and addressing recommendation 24 of the ATRT report, will undoubtedly be the first priorities when the position of Ombudsman is staffed in the near future.

Until an Ombudsman is appointed, I plan to continue to focus my energy inward to serve this community of practice; this inspiring group of volunteers committed to the Internet and its governance. But I need your help; I need you to let me know what is right and what is wrong. I want you, the community, to know that I am interested in what you have to say. I cannot walk around the office every day like an organizational Ombudsman or sit down in the cafeteria and have lunch with you as can the Ombudsman of a university. I rely on you, the ICANN community, to initiate a dialogue with me; a simple e-mail so that we can discuss any issues you may have. Contact with the Office of the Ombudsman does not have to be on a complaint form. I hope to establish and maintain a communication network at a much more informal level.

Ombudsman@icann.org is the address you can use to reach the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s role is to listen to you, everyone in this room and those listening and watching remotely. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

March 15, 2011

ICANN Meeting San Francisco / Silicon Valley March 13-18, 2011

Filed under: icann meetings — herb.waye @ 10:49 am

Hello, my name is Herb Waye. I have been in the role of ICANN’s Adjunct Ombudsman for 5 years. I am attending the ICANN Silicon Valley meeting and ensuring the full operations of the Office of the Ombudsman. ICANN meetings are a great opportunity for the community to meet the staff of the Office of the Ombudsman and have face to face discussions. There is an office available for more private discussions but I will likely be out meeting people, building relationships and spreading the message on the role of the Office and how it serves the ICANN community. I am looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and to make the most of this opportunity for the community to seek me out in person. Herb

December 10, 2010

Ombudsman presentation at the ICANN Meeting Public Forum – Cartagena

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 7:11 am

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Thank you very much.  Okay.  Thank you. Next we come to thank the ombudsman, and I invite Frank to come and present the report from the ombudsman.  Where’s Frank?  Can we get the ombudsman’s slides up?  Thank you, Frank.  I think the way Wolfgang did it worked very well in the absence of a —

 >>FRANK FOWLIE:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I will be excessively brief to try to get you back on track, as always.  The ombudsman report has been on the Web site since Monday, and I’m pleased to take any questions from the table or the floor in connection to that.  I guess everybody read it and really, really liked it.

 [ Laughter ]

 Amadeu said he read it twice.

 >>PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Frank, you know one thing about this community, if they don’t like something, they are not shy about standing up and saying so.

 >>FRANK FOWLIE:  I didn’t notice that.

 >>ROD BECKSTROM:  It must have been perfect.

 >>PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  They always do so in civil tones and respect for each other.

 >>BRUCE TONKIN:  I have a quick question, if I might, Peter.


 >>BRUCE TONKIN:  Frank, in the ATRT report, it mentioned that they are looking at the review of various, I guess, appeals processes, for want of a better word.  And there was mention they thought the ombudsman office should meet the various international standards that might relate to that.

 Wonder if you could comment very briefly on whether you think the ombudsman office today does meet those.  And if not, what are some of the things that would need to be changed, in very summary form?

 >>FRANK FOWLIE:  Thank you, Bruce.  Actually, I had the opportunity to provide a briefing to Brian Cute on this matter, and I shared it with you yesterday.

 The office of the ombudsman is probably — this office of the ombudsman is probably the most scrutinized and evaluated ombudsman’s office in the world, not only against international standards but also against standards that were developed within this office as I did my doctoral dissertation. 

 The difficulty in putting this particular office uniquely into a cache of one of the various ombudsman associations that exists is that it is an executive ombudsman office.  It is created by a legislative body, being the table, and performs a specific function of answering questions about fair treatment within the community.

 There is no specific ombudsman association in the world that caters exclusively to executive ombudsmen.

 The United States Ombudsman Association and the International Ombudsman Association reflect either end of the spectrum.  The United States Ombudsman being the classical or governmental ombudsman and the International Ombudsman Association being organizational ombudsmen who have very different characteristics of dealing usually
with staff issues, client issues and who do not formally report.  So there are elements of both.

 In the work that we’ve done in the evaluation of this office of the ombudsman, we have developed a checklist of the 50 top characteristics found across all ombudsman associations and have classified where this office fits in those.  That has been reviewed by an independent third -party evaluator who has provided a commentary and who’s put — that’s available on the Web site.

 Very early in the development of the office, I contracted with an evaluator from the International Standards Association, ISO — our organization, excuse me.  They have two standards that deal with complaint handling:  One for complaints internal to an organization and one complaints external.  ISO 10,002 and 10,003.  The evaluator
went through our framework and our process and confirmed that the ICANN office of the ombudsman met all international standards with respect to complaint handling.

 My advice is that the office in and of itself is meeting all international standards, meeting all national standards and is a leader across the globe in the evaluation of standards for ombudsman offices. 

 I think there are weaknesses, and those were addressed in the commentary.  I think one of the weaknesses that does need to be addressed in terms of how international bodies look — or state bodies or national bodies look at the use of having an ombudsman as a structure in their organization or government is the linkage between the board and the ombudsman.

 I think one of the weaknesses that needs to be explored is the recommendation process.  The Bylaw 5 is very, very clear, that the ombudsman is to make a report to the board and provide recommendations on how the ombudsman thinks matters should be dealt with.

 A weakness in this organization is the reply back or the follow-up action.  Normally where there is a statement legislature who has an ombudsman, the ombudsman will be authorized by law to demand or reply and report on the implementation of recommendations within 30 days.  Obviously, in an executive ombudsman framework where the legislature and the ombudsman are much more closely attached, that becomes more difficult. 

 But I think part of the ATRT review and the review being taken up at this point should include an evaluation not just of the ombudsman but the relationship between the ombudsman and the board of directors.  And that will provide for a much more healthy and curative result to complaints that come through the office of the ombudsman.

 >>PETER DENGATE THRUSH:  Very fulsome reply.  Any other questions for the ombudsman?  Any questions from the floor?  In which case, let me move to another part of this, which, of course, is to note that Frank is leaving us at the end of January next year. 

 And Frank, of course, was our first ombudsman, was instrumental in setting up the ICANN ombudsman framework and the online presence. 

 So, Frank, could you come and join us on the stage.  We have a little gift to note that.  Frank also, as he said, earned his doctorate in online dispute resolution and the assessment of ombudsman offices while he was at ICANN.  I understand his doctoral dissertation on that won the prize for dissertation of LaTrobe University for doctoral theses that year. 

 So, Frank, thank you for setting up our office and thank you for holding it to the high standard you have always aspired to.  Thank you very much.

 [ Applause ]

June 22, 2010

Brussels public forum comments posted

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 11:00 pm


March 11, 2010

Ombudsman update posted for Nairobi meeting

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 7:18 am

The Ombudsman’s update is found at: http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/nairobi-comments-mar10-en.pdf

October 29, 2009

Ombudsman Report at the Seoul Meeting

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 5:47 pm

The Chair, Thank you for the reminder. I’ve just reminded that I haven’t called on the ombudsman for his report and I apologize for that. Frank, the ombudsman’s report.
>>FRANK FOWLIE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Two days from now will mark the fifth anniversary of my being appointed to the office of the ombudsman, so this is the fifth annual report of the office. It’s available outside, and I’d encourage people to pick up a copy of it.

There is a prepared text. It’s under the public forum label or link for — for the meeting, but I just wanted to take you through a couple of numbers. Since the office began five years ago, there have been 2,425 complaints or contacts made to the office. 247 of which were in the jurisdiction established in the bylaws which means it’s an act, a decision, or inaction by the board, staff, or supporting organizations.

There have been 12 formal reports filed in accordance with bylaw 5 to the board, with a total of 39 recommendations for action by the organization. There are presently no files in backlog. The ombudsman has been in travel status for a total of 693 days in five years. The annual report is published in six languages, and complaints have been received from 71 different countries over a five year period.

Last night, the latest report was filed with the board, and an abridged copy was put on the ombudsman’s Web site. And that’s my report and I’m leaving the stage and I will table a copy of the fifth annual report with the secretary.

>>PETER DENGATE THRUSH: Thank you very much, Mr. Ombudsman.

October 23, 2009

Blogging from Seoul

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 4:49 pm

ICANN is holding its October International Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea.  The Ombudsman will establish a physical office in the Hotel Lotte Business Centre.  The centre is located on the hotel’s main floor, and the office will be in room number 7.  Members of the community who wish to raise issues are invited to drop by, or use the usual complaint form to contact the Ombudsman.

July 5, 2009

Herb Waye, Adjunct Ombudsman, speaks at the Sydney Public Forum

Filed under: annual report,icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 8:27 am

PETER DENGATE THRUSH:   We move, then, to the next report.

One of the more important functions that we have at ICANN is the role of the ombudsman.  For dealing with any complaint about activities or alleged activities or issues that are raised by any member of the community, affected by any administrative decision of the corporation.   And many of you who have attended before will have met the ombudsman and will know the work of that group.

The ombudsman, Frank Fowlie, has been unfortunately detained by some family — unfortunate family circumstances, but his adjunct, his assistant, Herb Waye is here, and I would like to introduce Herb now
invite him to speak on behalf of Frank.

>>HERB WAYE:   Thank you.  Mr. Chairman, Peter Dengate Thrush, President Paul Twomey, members of the Board of Directors and liaisons, esteemed members of the ICANN community, ICANN staff, ladies and
gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity to make this brief address.

My name is Herb Waye and I am the ICANN adjunct ombudsman, and I am filling the role of the ombudsman, Dr. Frank Fowlie, at this meeting.

I would like to express Dr. Fowlie’s deepest regrets at being absent from this Sydney ICANN meeting, but an urgent family medical crisis has required his presence at home.

He sends his warmest greetings, and he would also like me to express his pleasure that the adjunct ombudsman role has worked so successfully in this time of crisis.

My ability to attend in his stead at such short notice can be credited to ongoing support of the adjunct position by the board and the diligent work of the ICANN staff in getting me here at the last minute.

My presence has enabled the office of the ICANN ombudsman to continue operations, seamlessly maintaining service to the organization, its stakeholders, and its clients.

The ability of the office of the ICANN ombudsman to have an experienced, trained, and independent person to provide at any time the necessary community contact, is critical to effective and timely dispute resolution.

During my presence here at Sydney, I have been able to meet with many people for Dr. Fowlie, and have continued his work towards the resolution of various complaints filed with our office.

Dr. Fowlie’s Sydney public forum comments have been posted online.  I highly recommend reviewing them at the link indicated on the slide.

Is there a slide with the link?


>>HERB WAYE:   Anyway, we will get that up there for you.

Dr. Fowlie will be publishing in the near future his fifth annual report.  If there are any questions or comments, I would be pleased to forward them to the ombudsman for his attention.

Thank you.

>>PETER DENGATE THRUSH:   Thank you, Herb.  Are there any questions now for the ombudsman?

Excuse me, for the adjunct ombudsman, either about the report or the about the office of the ombudsman?

Herb, do you want to explain whereabouts you can be found if anybody does want to see you?

>>HERB WAYE:   Yes, we do have an office downstairs on Level 1, Room 7, so it will be open for the remainder of the day.  If anybody would like to drop in, I would be more than pleased to sit down and chat
either about the role of the ombudsman or mediation and dispute resolution in general.

Thank you very much.

June 25, 2009

ICANN President speaks about the Office of the Ombudsman

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 1:41 pm

While speaking at the ICANNMeeting – Sydney, ICANN President Paul Twomey made these comments while discussing “Improving Institutional Confidence”:


So the first of the provisions is that there is an ombudsman.
Secondly, there’s the Reconsideration Committee of the board.  And the third one is the independent review panel.

There will be an additional staff recommendation on Friday that both the ombudsman and the independent review — sorry, the board review — sorry, board reconsideration process should both be up for review under the rolling review mechanisms that ICANN has in place.  So we have under the bylaws the requirement that all organs inside ICANN need to be reviewed every three years.  We think these two particular organs
need to be opened up for that review.

The ombudsman process, I think, has been quite satisfactory, worked quite well.  I think you will find the chairman of the board has been on the public record several times to say that he thinks the Reconsideration Committee of the board is not now well-structured and needs to be reconsidered.  It is too narrow and is actually too difficult to get things through that process.  So we think that’s an important need to do that review.

June 20, 2009

Ombudsman’s Office at the Sydney meeting

Filed under: icann meetings — Frank Fowlie @ 6:38 pm

During the Sydney meeting, Herb Waye, Adjunct Ombudsman, will be staffing a physical office for the Ombudsman.  If you have any questions or concerns during the Sydney meeting, please drop in to see Herb.  The Office is located on the same level as the ICANN Staff room.

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