Commonsense & Transparency Prevails

Hot off the press is this announcement (see below) from Stuart Benjamin – Chair of the the auDA Board.

It concerns the registry contract; and outlines auDA’s intention to do what they should have done in the first place – go out to tender. I wrote about the perils of not doing so in this article back on December 31st 2016.

This is some of what I said back then:

“But given that there has been no competitive tender for the Registry contract since 2005; and the fact that the market is going to potentially double in size with the introduction of direct registrations in 2017 / 2018; it is incumbent on auDA to go to tender. Good governance from the current auDA Board and CEO demands nothing less.

Competition and transparency are paramount.

If AusRegistry is good enough, then they will win. Simple as that.”

Ned O’Meara – 26th April 2017


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14 thoughts on “Commonsense & Transparency Prevails

  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm
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    “…so auDA can build and operate a dedicated .au registry.”

     

     

  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm
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    I wonder why the board would think a restricted tender is a good idea?

    Keep the supply side members happy?

  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm
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    I actually hope I’m misreading or misunderstanding the release, and that your gushing praise is warranted.

    It’s one thing to say we’re going to tender for a registry provider to supply registry services which I think was the expectation. However the release says:

    “sourcing expert advice so auDA can build and operate a dedicated .au registry” and “test the value, accountability and performance of building a best-in-class registry

    How I’m reading this is that auDA want to build and run their own .au registry – with zero capability in ever having done that, and trying to do it from scratch. To be perfectly honest if this is what is actually being proposed, this isn’t commonsense and transparency, it’s terrifyingly stupid.

    For the future it locks you into a DIY model where you have less economic competition not more. For example auDA could bump the price of domains up whenever they feel like it to pay for whatever is this weeks bright idea (Foundation/auIGF/Awards etc etc).

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    • Ned O'Meara
      April 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm
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      @ Mr Monkey – “gushing praise”? I think not.

      The press release / members announcement is poorly worded. I give you that. One could assume certain things after reading certain sentences within it.

      But my understanding is that they are definitely going to go out to some sort of restricted tender; and in doing so, they will have a “specification” that each tenderer will have to comply with (in order to build a “best-in-class registry).

      Having talked to many auDA insiders (over the past year), the last thing they want to do is manage a registry themselves.

      But hey – anything is possible with auDA!!

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  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm
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    The Australian Commonwealth Government has overall responsibility and oversight of the Australian Domain Name System. They have failed in their role to date and largely let auDA self manage it’s activities which has been proven and well documented to not have worked or be working.

    auDA.org.au in it’s role as current Australian Domain Name Administration provider has not been transparent enough over the years nor has it acted in the best interests of Australia, Australian Domain Name Registrant Consumers or Domain Name registrars and resellers ( Supply). Too many issues have come to the notice of the public but much more has seemingly not been exposed as yet.

    The  Australian Commonwealth should take over management of the Australian Domain Name Administration and also the Australia Wholesale Domain Name registry (currently contracted to a foreign owned company).

    The Department could do the roles easily, with increased transparency, improved security & accountability.

    https://www.communications.gov.au/what-we-do/internet

    It is also highly questionable why a Wholesale Registry contract provider is in such a powerful role on the auDA Board and how they may have promoted via various materials policy changes which could  give them increased profits which have not been made public via proper disclosures.

    The Australian Wholesale Registry has been hurt over many years by auDA’s lack of proper tendering. It has in fact hurt the chances for innovation and fairness. In many ways the process seems to have been anti competitive behaviour further entrenching a profiteering monopoly mindset.

    People should also note a back up wholesale registry provider is also required and this must also be tendered for.

    Wholesale Registry Tenders & Expressions of Interest should international, published, advertised and OPEN. Not a short list chosen by the auDA Board or auDA.

    Retendering for Wholesale Registry Providers in other countries has seen;

    1. Lower wholesale domain name pricing.

    2. Improved security and back up processes.

    3. Additional standard features for Domain Name Registrant Consumers. ( FREE domain lockdown, Free COR supported by Wholesale Registry etc).

    auDA should also stop paying to be in the wholesale registry contractors advertising material such as their magazine which is heavily slanted towards their own interests interests and not those of actual Australian Domain Name Registrants or Consumers.

    auDA also needs to reduce the fee they take from every Australian Domain Name Registration, Renewal and Change of Regiostrant Fee.

    auDA has over $10 million in the bank in profits. As a “not for profit” instead of wasting the money via the foundations, grants, award nights or high expenses they simply reduce the costs for Australian Domain Name Registrants and Supply.

    To stay competitive against the 3000 available Domain Name Extensions and to protect the good name and global reputation of .com.au  auDA needs to rapidly improve and to require that from it’s contracted wholesale registry provider also. The fact is the current wholesale registry has not been innovative nor have they reduced wholesale prices for many years, they have instead been overtaken by 100% foreign owned entities and the massive profits shifted offshore to the detriment of Australia and the Australian Domain Name System.

    The current wholesale Registry has pushed for an additional competing .au extension with false claims it is needed or is in high demand. It is apparent they tried to push for this while remaining the Australian Wholesale Registry provider to further increase their own profits.

    auDA MUST advertise an international OPEN tender /  Expressions of interest. They must improve their transparency and remove all contractors / suppliers / wholesale registry providers & related entities /people from auDA Board roles or powers of influence.

    For many years thousands of people and even auDA Board Directors have tried to speak up with suggestions for improvement but in most cases they have been ignored by auDA and the more powerful Supply members of the auDA Board.

    auDA and the wholesale registry provider make large profits from every Australian Domain registered. This needs to be more properly disclosed so people understand why auDA and the Australian Domain Name Wholesale Wholesale Provider act the way they do. I would like to also see more public and ongoing disclosures of auDA Board members where they have pushed for policy changes ( the push for an unneeded additional competing .au extension ) which would increase their own profits also.  auDA seems to be deleting and censoring vast materials from their website which was previously public available materials on board meetings etc. This is not transparent, not accountable and not the “improved” auDA everyone including Government, auDA members had been promised.

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  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm
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    This is very good first step. Hopefully AUDA has the ability to see the tender process through.

    You’ve got to wonder why AUDA spend 4 and half months in “exclusive negotiations” though, this tender process could have been started long ago and I’m sure Ausregistry were trying to string things out as long as possible so make it harder for AUDA to get a tender out by sapping time. What smart negotiator wouldn’t do that given the situation?

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm
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      Paul,

      “You’ve got to wonder why AUDA spend 4 and half months in “exclusive negotiations” though”

      My info (from a few informed sources) is that auDA wanted to do the AusRegistry deal because this was going to be the quickest route to implement direct registrations.

      Then the “hiccup” occurred e.g. the announcement that Neustar (parent of AusRegistry) was being taken over via a foreign hedge fund. That blindsided auDA.

      Notwithstanding this, my sources tell me that auDA have been seeking Government opinion as to whether they could still do the AusRegistry deal. I might be wrong, but it appears that Govt approval / blessing was not forthcoming. Scott.L suggested this also (on DNT).

      Sometimes things work out for the best. Let’s hope so in this case.

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      • Avatar
        April 26, 2017 at 4:19 pm
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        Cheers Ned,

        I think it would be foolish for an important public resource to be entrusted to some VC firm in another country.

        The fact that the registry went to an offshore corp was bad (Neustar), but the Golden Gate stuff is a very big step down. Who knows where it would end up after that if they decide to start splitting up Neustar or selling it off again. These guys aren’t likely to be interested long term and at the moment the registry is just a football being passed around to god knows who.

        So sounds like we have the Australian government to thank for saying “no” where AUDA would just say “yes”.

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  • Avatar
    April 26, 2017 at 10:03 pm
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    Clear as mud announcement. I’m confused as to what auda is planning?

    Jeff

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  • Avatar
    April 27, 2017 at 2:19 am
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    Summary

    1. auDA wants to do both the admin and wholesale registry role now.

    Ausregistry / Neustar / Foreign owners will no longer be the wholesale registry provider.

    2. auDA is tendering for someone to set auDA up as the Wholesale Registry. Who is on the chosen invited list is the main concern people are asking. Why not an open tender again?

    3. With Ausregistry / Neustar out of the sales chain wholesale registry role completely auDA could reduce wholesale Australian domain name prices by at least $5 a year per domain name registration and renewal.This will help to keep the Australian Domain name system competitive against the other 2000+ global extension options Australians could choose from now. It may assist renewal rates and increase .com.au and .net registration numbers .

    4. auDA can also drop the COR fee completely once Ausregistry  / Neustar is gone…. they seem to have been the hold up for the change. Once gone it can be done quickly.

    5. auDA has massive profits in the bank so they can easily fund this while still reducing wholesale domain name prices. Cutting out the Ausregistry / Neustar or other wholesale registry middleman is a good move as long as auDA does not get bloated and larger with wastage and huge expenses again.

    • Avatar
      April 27, 2017 at 10:51 am
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      I think their language is just mixed up John, I would by pretty surprised if AUDA were intending to run a registry.

  • Avatar
    April 27, 2017 at 11:36 am
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    Ned, perhaps please may i suggest you interview an auDA representative so we can all have clarification?

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm
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      @Ishmail – I have been busy this morning trying to do just this. Unfortunately no one has given me an “on the record” comment.

      But based on my enquiries, this is what I now believe:

      1. auDA are indeed planning to bring the registry in-house.

      2. The tender they refer to in their announcement is for 3rd parties (including AusRegistry) to provide a complete solution for building a best-in-class registry.

      I think it’s a great idea for auDA to run it themselves (provided they have the right people and necessary resources).

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