Happy New Year from the CEO at auDA

Posted by Cameron Boardman on 16 January 2017

To our members: On behalf of the auDA staff and executive team, I’d like to welcome everyone back with fresh enthusiasm for 2017. We took a short break between Christmas and New Year, but have been working hard since then on our organisational restructure and moving forward with our plans for the year ahead. 

There was a lot of change at auDA in 2016, but we are confident this will deliver benefits to the wider digital community in Australia, including .au users, owners, registrars and of course, our members. 

Organisation and structural reform
Since commencing as CEO, I have implemented a number of initiatives designed to improve auDA’s operational effectiveness and to ensure that the organisation evolves into a more accountable, productive and responsive organisation. These initiatives include, but are not limited to:

  • Reorganisation of auDA’s business units to ensure consistency and appropriate performance management specifically as it relates to the stability of the DNS, in addition to improving our complaints processes along with our stakeholder relationship management;
  • Introduction of policies and administrative processes to improve financial and personnel management and to comply with all relevant corporate regulations. This has resulted in the creation of three business units:
    • Corporate and Regulatory Services (includes Company Secretary function)
    • Technology, Security and Strategy
    • Communications, Marketing and Engagement;
  • We have further reformed board processes and administration including the recruitment and appointment of new independent directors along with new reporting and monitoring processes;

Along with improving our core services, the leadership team has further initiated a number of projects focussing on the use of analytics and data science in our business functions. We have commenced a comprehensive analysis of auDA’s policies to identify areas of reform and a complete brand strategy review.

Improvements to auDA’s operations and administration
As part of the administrative review we have developed a number of internal policies to achieve best practice, they include:

  • Delegations Manual – to ensure clear accountable corporate governance for auDA and to reflect the Constitution. This authority vests responsibility by the Board in the CEO and other management positions. This ensures there is separation and accountability between governance and management functions of the organisation, and the rights and limitations of the Board, CEO and the management team;
  • Review of all HR policies including:
    • Bullying and Discrimination Policy
    • Employee Assistance Program Policy
    • Whistle Blower Policy
    • Leave Policy;
  • Review of all Finance policies including:
    • Board and Delegations Manual (as stated above)
    • Purchasing Policy
    • Travel Policy
    • Version Control Policy;
  • Review of the Communications Policy;
  • Review of the Crisis Communications Strategy;
  • Review of Security policies including:
    • Information Security Policy
    • Logistical Security Policy
    • Password Policy
    • Physical Security Policy
    • Personal Security Policy
    • Incident Response Policy
    • Business Continuity Policy
    • Disaster Incidents Policy

Membership communications
We have over 200 members. As this numbers grows, so does the need to communicate with you regularly. We will be starting 2017 with a monthly members newsletter. This will be our main communications channel and by far the most effective way to keep you up to date. 

We are currently assessing all our digital communications, part of a broader review of the auDA organisation and brand. One of the goals is to provide an online member portal with better access to industry news, insights and information, and a more effective way of managing member enquires. 

Global market assessment 
At the end of last year, auDA commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a global market assessment and report back to us on the following:

• an update of their previous assessment on the economic contribution of the .au DNS
• assess if the .au DNS represents critical infrastructure
• further benchmarking of the impact of direct registrations, globally, to better inform the policy development for direct registration.

A number of individuals and organisations around the world have been contacted to undertake qualitative interviews. On completion, this report will be made available to the public.

Direct registration; stakeholder qualitative interviews
In the coming weeks, we will be announcing other ways members and all stakeholders can contribute to the policy development.

There will be opportunities to participate in direct registration research that will feed into policy development. If you’d like to take part, please email media@auda.org.au to register. Interviews will take place in March and April this year either face to face or over the phone.

Once this research is complete, the report will be made available to the public. 

We aim to have policy for direct registration agreed and ready for implementation planning by the beginning of the new financial year.

Government relations
We have been proactive in building our relationships with relevant Government departments and ensuring discussions are open and bipartisan.

While the Government’s expectations for the management of .au were set out in a series of letters by the Minister of the day, both the Department and auDA acknowledge that after sixteen years it is time to review and modernise the relationship. We have agreed to work together towards this. As such, this work is ongoing.

Cyber security
We believe that auDA has a role to play as part of the Australian Government's Cyber Security Strategy (released last April). auDA has a critical role in ensuring that the .au domain is not seen as a safe haven for cyber criminals.  To that end, we are working on a project that will see auDA use data analytics to help us ensure that all registrant data is accurate and that domains registered for malicious use are detected and taken down as quickly as possible. 

We also believe that auDA can play a role in community awareness around building cyber aware citizens and we look forward to updating you about our plans.

Registry contract
Considerable work and review continues with regard to the unsolicited bid auDA received from AusRegistry on the 14th November last year, however we are bound by an NDA regarding that bid. We are also aware of the proposed acquisition by the private investment group led by Golden Gate Capital, announced on 14 December 2016.

Be assured, the interests of the Australian digital community are central to our deliberations. We will not be proceeding with any agreement without communicating them in full to all stakeholders. We hope to have more to say in the coming weeks.

Our new and improved Members Newsletter will be in your inbox by end of February. Until then, Happy New Year and I wish you every success for 2017.

Cameron Boardman