Be more frugal
The budget is far too high, and showing an unrealistic growth curve. Nearly 20% of the proposed $30 million budget is devoted to travel. This should be reduced considerably by using technology for remote participation (e.g. Webex, LiveMeeting, etc.), so that less needs to be spent on air transportation and hotels. Furthermore, it would increase participation by those unable or unwilling to travel to physical meetings. Instead of travel throughout the exotic locations of the world, so that Board members can go bowling: http://gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/registrars/msg03907.html http://scrawford.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/3/29/1847845.html or sit in front of empty halls: http://www.flickr.com/photos/93594735@N00/119649669/ http://blog.lextext.com/blog/_archives/2006/3/28/1847427.html locations (if needed) should be chosen that are the lowest cost for participants and *essential* staff to attend (i.e. major transportation hubs and destinations with affordable hotels/conference space). Locations like Las Vegas, New York, and London come to mind. Maybe even Los Angeles, so ICANN staff need not waste money on travel/hotels at all, and can sleep in their own beds at night. It's very telling that ICANN sends so many staff members to the events, yet somehow ICANN's duties during the week-long events are fulfilled without any hiccups. It makes one really wonder what the staff are doing the rest of the year, if their mass absence during those weeks has no operational impact. It's a sign of overcapacity in terms of current staffing, yet the current budget proposes to increase staff by yet another 50% (from 59 to 89). ICANN needs new metrics as to its "activities". In the budget paper, it shows a graph of the number of registrars, which was essentially a flat-line between 1999 and 2003. Everyone knows that the recent growth in 2004/5/6 was driven by "phantom" registrars going after expired domain names, and mostly controlled by existing entities. These were not really new registrars, but were existing registrars seeking extra accreditations to increase their chances of catching expiring domains. The applications for these additional registrars are essentially "cookie-cutter" cut and paste, with minimal work required to handle them. Thus, it is highly misleading for ICANN to use that graph as a sign that its activity level has increased 400%. If ICANN wanted to tell the truth, they would present a graph of the number of registrars that are unaffiliated with other groups. Due to industry consolidation, I would expect that such a graph would show a DECLINE in the real number of truly distinct registrars (for example, Dotster's parent has acquired AllDomains, 000domains, Dotregistrar and a few others). Using the number of emails on a mailing list as a sign of organization activity is also spurious. ICANN's spam filters are very poor, and thus you get situations like: http://forum.icann.org/alac-forum/ http://forum.icann.org/lists/wipo2-comments/ where spammers and phishers are trying to sell pills, or steal one's PayPal details. This is typical of many other ICANN lists. If one wants to see a better indicator of ICANN's activity level in regards to email, take a look at: http://forum.icann.org/ [linked from ICANN's homepage as "Hot Topics"] http://icannalac.org/forum/ and see how many of the forums have zero messages lately. Indeed, the Public Comment "Off Topic" forum has been closed for 18 months: http://forum.icann.org/offtopic/ Most lists that are made public have trivial volume, not 500 messages per DAY as the graph suggests, e.g: http://forum.icann.org/lists/alac/ [ALAC, 95 messages from April 24 to May 24 2006, = 3/day] http://gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/registrars/ [Registrars, 3/day] http://gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/council/ [Council, 2/day] I'm not privy to the Board list (any thoughts to making it public?), but we do know exactly how many Board meetings there were via: http://www.icann.org/minutes/ [exclude Executive Committee meetings and Secretary notes] 2002: 15 2003: 19 2004: 16 2005: 18 2006: 8 (up to May 24, 2006) We also know the amount of Correspondence from ICANN's Correspondence page: http://www.icann.org/correspondence/ 2002: 24 2003: 87 2004: 53 2005: 71 2006: 24 (up to May 24, 2006) This scaling is probably a better indicator of the true flat organization activity, rather than the graphs ICANN has produced to justify its huge proposed budget. There's no indication that ICANN Board members or staff even read the input of the public on most issues, in any event. If they did, perhaps they would have rejected the VeriSign proposed settlement, as it was clear that was the consensus wish of the public. I know for myself, I've been trying to get detailed IDN TLD information from ICANN staff since the last Board Meeting, for policy purposes, yet my last 2 emails over a period of a month have had no response (although to be fair I did get a partial response in 1 email in early April 2006). The WDPR email system is entirely AUTOMATED, and thus no staff are required to operate it as complaints rise. Thus, it is a poor indicator of organizational activity/scale. [by the way, wouldn't it be more appropriate to have the WDPR and Registrar Complaint forms at an icann.org page, instead of at Internic.net?? apparently a new Webmaster candidate is being sought -- perhaps they can also fix the ICANN homepage RSS feed, http://www.icann.org/rss/news.rss, which is 1 month behind, and was even further behind the last time I pointed it out] In conclusion, for a non-profit entity, ICANN is spending the money of its constituents (ultimately domain registrants) very poorly. I would not be surprised if an efficient organization could do the technical role that ICANN purports to perform for substantially less than USD $10 million/yr. Most non-profits are frugal. ICANN is not. That's a disconnect that needs to be addressed. Sincerely, George Kirikos http://www.kirikos.com/ P.S. This comments email address wasn't working for a week, yet no one at ICANN noticed. See: http://blog.lextext.com/blog/_archives/2006/5/24/1982288.html How can ICANN be our Technical Overlords, when some of the most basic things are mismanaged, and worse, without staff accountability for the errors?