by Milton Mueller on Sun 11 Mar 2012 01:38 PM EDT

The highly negative blog post written yesterday was fueled by the concern that NTIA was using the IANA contract to push ICANN into policy positions demanded by the GAC and a few powerful interests still trying to undermine or re-write the new TLD program.

There is another theory making the rounds here and for the sake of fair and complete coverage we need to report it. The alternate theory, which is plausible, too, is that ICANN simply prepared a sloppy response to the IANA Request for Proposals. ICANN allegedly did not take the IANA RFP seriously, and figured that there were no alternatives to it and thus did not convincingly and sufficiently address the requirements set out by the NTIA’s Request for Proposals. In this view, NTIA is just doing a good job of enforcing accountability and is trying to demonstrate to ICANN that it cannot take the award for granted.

While it is possible that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, the lack of clarity about this makes it incumbent upon both ICANN’s Board and the U.S. Commerce Department to clarify what is going on. ICANN should release its IANA application so that the public can judge for itself whether it was a serious, responsive and adequate application. The Commerce Department should publicly identify those elements of the ICANN application that it found inadequate. Now that the RFP is withdrawn there is no legal or procedural barrier to this exchange of information.