GAO says IANA transition is not a transfer of government property, which would require congressional approval.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an analysis yesterday determining that the proposed transition of IANA functions to ICANN does not constitute a transfer of U.S. government property requiring congressional approval.
This is important because it’s one of Ted Cruz’s arguments to try to stop the transition. He is arguing that the president can’t give away government property without congressional approval:
As Members of the legislative branch, Congress should stand united to rein in this President, to protect the constitutional authority expressly given to Congress to control disposition of property of the United States. To put the matter very simply: The Obama administration does not have the authorization of Congress, and yet they are
endeavoring to give away this valuable, critical property–to give it away with no authorization of law.
The GAO released a 29-page decision (pdf). Here’s the summary:
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) proposes to transition its oversight of key Internet technical functions (the IANA functions) and the Internet domain name system to a global multistakeholder community. We addressed whether U.S. Government property will be transferred or otherwise disposed of in connection with the transition in violation of the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article IV). We find it is unlikely that either the domain name system or the authoritative root zone file (the “address book” for the top-level domain) is U.S. Government property under Article IV. We also find the Government may have certain data rights, and has limited intellectual and tangible property, all of which constitute Article IV property, but that property will be retained and not disposed of in connection with the transition. Finally, the Government has a contractual right to continued performance by the entities carrying out the IANA functions and related services. That right, which also constitutes U.S. Government property, would be disposed of if NTIA terminates the agreements rather than allowing them to expire, but NTIA has the requisite authority to dispose of this Government property interest.