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The Madness Continues As auDA Defies Own Constitution and Industry Advice While Seeking Registry EoI

AuDA today confirmed it is going ahead with the building and operation of a dedicated .au registry. To begin the .au policy and regulatory body is, as an initial scoping exercise, releasing a Request for Expressions of Interest for the Registry Transformation Project.

The .au registry is currently operated by AusRegistry, now owned by Neustar, who have operated it since 2002, seeing registrations grow from 307,000 to the current 3.115 million. During that period while AusRegistry operated the registry auDA handled the policy and regulatory side of the .au country code top level domain (ccTLD).

The controversial decision goes against the organisation’s constitution and its own Industry Advisory panels made of registrars and industry insiders. Industry Advisory panels in 2008 and again in 2012 recommended that the existing setup of auDA as the policy and regulatory body and a separate registry should be retained.

The 2012 Industry Advisory Panel recommendations to the auDA Board included Recommendation 1A that reads:
a) the competitive registry model should be retained;
b) auDA should initiate renegotiations with AusRegistry to extend contractual arrangements for 2, 3 or 4 years;
c) auDA should seek stakeholder input on relevant negotiating factors prior to the renegotiations with AusRegistry;
d) if renegotiations with AusRegistry fail, auDA should proceed to conduct a formal RFT process; and
e) the auDA Board should publicly commit to undertaking a formal RFT process once the renegotiated registry agreement expires.

Likewise in 2008, the panel recommended “that the existing competitive registry model should be retained with future licence terms to be increased from the current 4 year licence term to either a 6 or 8 year licence term” and “that auDA negotiates with the current registry operator with a view to extending the current registry licence term by up to 4 years.”

Further, auDA’s constitution says Advisory Panels will be used to develop policy recommendations, but the decision to operate the registry has come about before any consultation.

A meeting with registrars was held early last week to discuss the changes. Sources indicate there is much uneasiness with auDA’s decisions.

Further to the ongoing madness the current leadership group has overseen key documents deleted from its website including annual reports, some of which have been reinstated. And last week auDA’s Director Technology, Security and Strategy, Rachael Falk, suddenly departed after only 8 months with insiders saying she was under untenable pressures from senior management with the CEO calling into question her professionalism. While the auDA announcement states Falk is leaving at the end of June, industry sources say she is not going back. Falk was appointed with much fanfare last October with glowing comments by the auDA Chair and CEO.

The EoI documents are now available for download on auDA's Registry Transformation Project website. Expressions of Interest are due 26 June.

No comment was sought from auDA as they don’t discuss issues with industry blogs as they’re not considered part of the media and have previously refused to comment.

* Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a supplier to auDA for 14 years and is now a supplier to AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.