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Post-deadline comment, posted on behalf of the registry constituency

  • To: travel-support-policy@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Post-deadline comment, posted on behalf of the registry constituency
  • From: Kieren McCarthy <kieren.mccarthy@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 18:55:15 -0700

GNSO gTLD Registries Constituency Statement

Issue:             ICANN Travel Support Policy

Date:               27 April 2008

General Registries Constituency (RyC) Information
§  Total # of eligible RyC Members:        15
§  Total # of RyC Members:        15
§  Total # of Active RyC Members[1]:  15
§  Minimum requirement for supermajority of Active Members:  10
§  Minimum requirement for majority of Active Members:  8
§  # of Members that participated in this process:  10
§  Names of Members that participated in this process:

 *   Names & email addresses for points of contact:
o   Chair:  David Maher, dmaher@xxxxxxx<mailto:dmaher@xxxxxxx>
o   Vice Chair:  Jeff Neuman, 
o   Secretariat:  Cherie Stubbs, Cherstubbs@xxxxxxx<mailto:Cherstubbs@xxxxxxx>
o   RyC rep. for this statement: Ray Fassett, ray@xxxxxxxxx

Regarding the issue noted above, the following position represents the views of 
the ICANN GNSO gTLD Registries Constituency as indicated.  Unless indicated 
otherwise, the RyC position was arrived at through a combination of RyC email 
list discussion and RyC meetings (including teleconference meetings).

Summary of voting:

Total Eligible Members: 15

In Support:  10
Non-Support: 0

Non-Voting: 5

Level of Support of Active Members: Supermajority

1.     Position Description:

This statement pertains to ICANN's Request for Comment on how it can create a 
documented, consistent policy to make it clear when, for whom, and how ICANN 
will provide travel support for the wide range of volunteers who make ICANN's 
community-based work possible.

I. Constituency Position

The Registries Constituency (RyC) both supports and believes in ICANN's 
constituency driven model.  As ICANN continues to succeed and mature in its 
role as the technical coordinator of certain matters of the DNS that impact all 
users of the Internet, it is reasonable to continually pose the question of how 
it can improve and further encourage bottom up participation into its policy 

Considering the fact that ICANN's operating budget has increased materially 
year over year during its past few fiscal periods, it is probably natural for 
members of the community to look to this as a vehicle to fund community 
participation.  Travel expense is the primary barrier to regular, in-person 
attendance at ICANN public meetings.  On the surface, it is natural to ask the 
question:  Should there be a budgetary commitment by ICANN to reimburse travel 
expense of individuals to facilitate their physical attendance at ICANN public 

The RyC thinks that ICANN staff is asking the right questions, which include:

1.     When should ICANN provide travel support?
2.     Who should ICANN provide travel support for?
3.     How should ICANN provide travel support?

In general the RyC does not support a direct appeal to ICANN's operating budget 
for expense reimbursement to individuals for their in-person attendance at 
ICANN public meetings[2].  This includes travel expense.  Instead, we believe 
each constituency has both an opportunity and an obligation to determine "when, 
who, and how" it will participate in ICANN public meetings.  While we carry the 
opinion that in-person attendance is not a "must" in order for any given 
constituency to effectuate ICANN policy, more importantly than this, we believe 
that expense reimbursement to individual representatives for in-person 
attendance is best placed at the constituency level.  In short, our position is 
that the "who, when, and how" questions are best placed at the constituency 
level rather than at the ICANN staff or Board level.

We think the issue might better be placed as:  How can ICANN's operating budget 
be of greater support and encouragement to constituency participation at ICANN 
public meetings without compromising the autonomy each constituency carries 
within the ICANN constituency driven model?

The RyC supports ICANN's allocation and investment toward methods of effective 
remote, real time participation.  We believe use of ICANN funds for this 
purpose to be in the best interests of its constituency members.  Successful 
accomplishment of this objective will lessen the perceived need for in-person 
attendance on the one hand and encourage individuals that do not have the means 
or ability to travel to participate nearly as fully (if not equally ) as those 
in physical attendance at ICANN public meetings.  Reliable remote participation 
tools should be a higher priority than reimbursing travel expenses because 
there are other reasons besides costs that limit in-person participation. These 
tools should not be limited to reliable phone lines and conferencing equipment 
(e.g., sound quality without interruptions) but should also include tools like 
web conferencing tools,  voice over IP capabilities, etc., to ensure remote 
participation is not just possible but effective.

To address the "who, when, and how" questions, we believe each constituency 
best knows which ICANN related policy matters are most important to their 
interests at any given time.  Thus, it is the constituency that is best able to 
determine "for whom" travel support should be provided.  The RyC fully 
acknowledges that each constituency will, at different times, view in-person 
participation at an ICANN public meeting as its best method to effectuate 
policy consistent to its interests and is thus in the best position to 
determine "when" travel is appropriate.  Depending on other related factors, 
the RyC could support an annual stipend from ICANN's operating budget to each 
of its constituencies towards encouraging further constituency participation at 
ICANN public meetings.  This is one method of answering "how" ICANN's operating 
budget could provide for travel support.

Individuals involved in ICANN policy should seek financial support (if and when 
needed) from within their own constituency.  In cases when an individual 
appeals to his or her own constituency for financial support and the 
constituency is unable (as opposed to unwilling) to provide such support, an 
appeal for reimbursement (by the constituency leadership, not the individual 
beneficiary) to ICANN staff could be made at that point under some condition of 
"need".  Under this approach, the RyC would expect full transparency of 
requests (and approval) along with an ongoing review by ICANN staff of the use 
of the funds in terms of effectiveness of participation in the applicable 

In an ideal world, every participant in ICANN in-person meetings would be 
purely motivated by doing only what is best for the Internet community as a 
whole, regardless of personal interests.  In the real world, participants 
representing themselves or representing some bigger group of stakeholders are 
involved to advocate their personal or group interests first and the interests 
of the broader Internet community second.  As long as we have involvement from 
a broad and representative sample of impacted parties, that should not be 
viewed negatively, but rather should be accepted and encouraged.  At the same 
time, funding travel expenses for these special interests should be considered 

In that regard, the RyC is concerned that direct reimbursement from the ICANN 
operating budget to individuals representing specific policy interests can be 
seen as ICANN (or more properly registrants who pay fees via their registrars) 
subsidizing special interest organizations.  Many, including GNSO Council 
representatives, participate in formal ICANN policy venues on behalf of 
organizations (commercial and noncommercial) that have the potential of 
directly benefiting from their participation.  We wish to caution ICANN - and 
the broader community - to appreciate that the term "volunteer" is often used 
quite broadly as part of ICANN's policy formulation process.  Business and 
nonprofit organizations frequently reimburse the travel expense (and other 
expenses) of the individuals in attendance at an ICANN public meeting.  If 
ICANN's operating budget directly reimburses individuals for travel expense, 
then the ICANN operating budget may be seen as subsidizing the special 
interests of these organizations.  Moreover, there is the possibility that the 
independence of individuals could be compromised because they are dependent on 
ICANN for funding.

The RyC believes that the strength of ICANN is equal to the sum of its parts 
and it is critical that each of those parts remain as independent as possible.  
Accountability should be encouraged at the constituency level.  We believe 
there may be methods for the ICANN operating budget to support its 
constituencies, including as this pertains to physical attendance at ICANN 
public meetings, as suggested by this communication).  Except in cases of 
special need as discussed herein, the RyC does not see direct reimbursement to 
individuals from ICANN's operating budget as a sound approach towards 
maintaining an autonomous, constituency driven ICANN model.

Finally, when evaluating whether or not travel expenses should be provided for 
GNSO Council members to participate in ICANN in-person meetings, the following 
questions should be considered:
·        Is it more important to fund GNSO Councilor travel expenses than other 
community participants?
·        If the GNSO moves to a working group model where the Council is the 
manager of policy development and the significant work is done in working 
groups, should travel for working group members be funded in cases where it is 
decided to hold in-person working group sessions?
·        What are the estimated cost impacts for providing travel expenses for 
GNSO participants for in-person meetings?
·        Assuming ICANN's funds have some limit, if it is decided to provide 
some funding for travel expenses to in-person meetings, then what budgeted 
items should be reduced to allow for funding travel?
·        How will possible conflicts of interest of individual participants be 
handled in cases where ICANN subsidizes the costs of those participants?



[1] Per the RyC Articles of Operations, Article III, Membership, ¶ 4: Members 
shall be classified as "Active" or "Inactive". A member shall be classified as 
"Active" unless it is classified as "Inactive" pursuant to the provisions of 
this paragraph.  Members become Inactive by failing to participate in a 
Constituency meeting or voting process for a total of three consecutive 
meetings or voting processes or both, or by failing to participate in meetings 
or voting processes, or both, for six weeks, whichever is shorter.  An Inactive 
member shall have all rights and duties of membership other than being counted 
as present or absent in the determination of a quorum. An Inactive member may 
resume Active status at any time by participating in a Constituency meeting or 
by voting.

[2] It is our assumption for this document that ICANN's request for input 
pertains to its public meetings only and not inter-sessional meetings that may 
arise from time to time.

Attachment: Travel Support Policy for ICANN - RyC Statement.doc
Description: Travel Support Policy for ICANN - RyC Statement.doc

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