From Avri Doria's blog: “While in a meeting with Board members, a member of my Stakeholder group had an opportunity to read part of one page of the Policy Staff’s briefing report to the Board from across the table (some of us read documents upside down better the we read right side up.) In this case it was all they could do to refrain themself from standing up and yelling “the staff lies.” Doria goes on to point out how inaccurate and biased these secret board briefings can be and how unfair it is that these critical messages are kept secret.
There is a vital structural issue here: ICANN's board faces too many issues and relies heavily on the policy staff to tell it what is going on. Unfortunately, during the past 5-6 years, the staff has chosen to take sides on policy issues and to favor some constituency groups over others. Often, this is caused by heavy lobbying of the staff by some of the professional, full-time lobbyists who can invest in constantly following and communicating with them. In other cases it is the staff's way of punishing those who were critical of ICANN, especially its policy staff. New CEO Rod Beckstrom has already made an important move to rectify this situation by replacing his policy vice chair with David Olive; it would seem, however, that lower level staff are still mired in the organizational culture established by his predecessor. There is a simple solution to this: make the board briefings public, with the usual exceptions for information considered confidential for legal, personal or personnel reasons.