ICANN recently passed a resolution regarding the EBERO program. It’s worth comparing the rationale for that resolution with the reasoning used to justify the renewal of the .ORG agreement.
For the EBERO resolution, ICANN’s Board refers to competition and costs repeatedly, saying:
As a result, ICANN org identified several bidders that have a clear understanding of the work involved, and the capability and infrastructure to perform at the appropriate service levels.
Taking this step towards contracting is in fulfilment of ICANN’s mission and in the public interest to ensure that ICANN org is utilizing the right third-party providers, and to ensure that it is maximizing available resources in a cost-efficient and effective manner.
The EBEROs provide ICANN org greater geographic diversity of available service providers while achieving a more competitive pricing model. Currently, ICANN pays [REDACTED FOR NEGOTIATION PURPOSES] for three EBERO providers over five years. The selection of providers through the RFP process will result in a savings of approximately 30%, while also achieving an increased level of technical support for the EBERO program.
So, terms like “several bidders”, “cost-efficient”, “achieving a more competitive pricing model”, “savings of approximately 30%”, and fixed terms of “five years” are evident.
Contrast this with the controversial .ORG renewal where, despite the overwhelming opposition of the public, ICANN renewed the contract with an important change that eliminated caps on fees charged by the registry operator. In its analysis of the public comments, ICANN said:
Removing the price cap provisions in the .org Registry Agreement is consistent with the Core Values of ICANN org as enumerated in the Bylaws approved by the ICANN community. [p. 8]
This is hypocrisy. ICANN demonstrates that it’s fully capable of negotiating a fixed term contract for EBERO, which led to cost savings and even the replacement of one of the EBERO providers. ICANN refers to “several bidders”, highlighting the importance of seeking cost-efficient contracted parties. These were fixed term contracts that led to a cost savings of approximately 30%.
In contrast, the .ORG renewal debacle shows no respect for cost-efficiency, as it allows the registry operator the ability to raise fees by an unlimited amount. This contract also has “presumptive renewal”, meaning it’s nearly impossible to replace the registry operator, unlike the apparent terms of the EBERO. Unlike the EBERO contract which had “several bidders”, ICANN only “negotiated” with a single party (if one can even call it a good faith “negotiation”, given ICANN threw registrants under the bus with this bad deal). Presumably ICANN does not let EBERO providers change their fees at the discretion of the EBERO providers, nor does it let EBERO providers have presumptive renewal.
NameCheap is currently challenging ICANN’s unjustified renewal of .ORG on such terrible terms. I hope that this contrast with the EBERO contracts assists them in their efforts.