What is the JPA?- Bret Fausett
What is the JPA?:
With the NTIA's mid-term review of ICANN's performance under the JPA underway, and ICANN writing to the United States to say "the JPA is no longer necessary and can be concluded," you might well ask yourself, "What is the JPA?" I did, and I'm as steeped in this as anyone.
My sense is that not everyone uses the term "JPA" to refer to the same thing. If we're talking about "concluding the JPA" (what ICANN wants) or "evaluating ICANN's performance under the JPA" (what the NTIA is now doing), it's very important to know if we're talking about the same things when we use the term "JPA.". You'll want to think about this too before you submit comments before next week's February 15th deadline.
Here's what I know. In September, 2006, about the same time that ICANN and the NTIA entered what should have been called "Amendment 7" to their November 25, 1998 Memorandum of Understanding, they stopped using the term "MOU" and began referring to their agreement, as modified over the years, as a "Joint Project Agreement." If you look at the text of their September 29, 2006 agreement, you can see that references to the "MOU" have been replaced with references to the "JPA."
This September 29, 2006 Agreement, however, is not a complete document. By its plain terms, it is an amendment to something else. That something else is the November 25, 1998 MOU.
Some people loosely refer to the "JPA" as the set of tasks listed in the September 29, 2006 amendment. Even ICANN's current Chair, Peter Dengate Thrush, uses the term "JPA" loosely in his letter to the NTIA. He talks about "The JPA – like the memorandums of understanding before it," as though the JPA somehow replaced the MOUs. In one sense, doing away with the list of tasks in the September 29, 2006 amendment is sound. ICANN is at a stage of its development where it ought to set its own agenda, for right or wrong, and it no longer needs the constant reporting to the USG that it has done over the last few years.
So if "conclude the JPA" means allow ICANN to set its own agenda and free ICANN from its reporting requirement to the USG, I can support that.
In its proper form though, the "JPA" refers to the complete current contract between ICANN and the United States. It starts with the November 25, 1998 agreement and is modified seven times, most recently by the September 29, 2006 "JPA." Copies of all versions are here, on the NTIA website.
Just for my own education, I created a complete version of the Agreement, starting from the first MOU and incorporating all of the revisions over the years. The result is here, in a PDF document:
The text of the so-called "JPA" of September 29, 2006 is in blue typeface.