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Summary/analysis addition

  • To: travel-support-policy@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Summary/analysis addition
  • From: doug.brent@xxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 16:19:23 -0700

Summary and analysis of public comments for:
ICANN Travel Support Approach/Policy
Comment period ended: 24 April 08
Summary published:


ICANN has more resources than in the past, and it is natural at this time to
reconsider ICANN's approach to providing constituent travel support.  As the
ICANN institution matures, it is increasingly important that the approach to
travel support be well considered, documented, and implemented in a
transparent way. 

While the topic of travel support isn't naturally part of the bottom-up
policy process, it is important to get input from the community regarding
this important topic.  A workshop was held in ICANN's Delhi meeting during
February 2008 to begin the dialogue, and a public comment forum allowed for
more input. 

A total of eight comments were received, seven from individuals, and one from
the Registry Constituency.  These comments were wide-ranging.  Almost all of
the comments pointed to the hard work and commitment of the ICANN community,
and several view enhanced travel support as a way to lower the cost of ICANN

To whom should ICANN provide travel support?

Comments on this point covered a broad ground.  OC noted, "All volunteers
that serve ICANN should be treated the same way and should get the same
travel benefits." And, while it is not a complete summary of the RyC
position, the principal they state is "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". 

There were some specific groups called-out in relation to receiving ICANN
travel support.  Several comments seemed to call for, in effect, travel
support for the council members of all supporting organizations (PS, AD, OC,
GR).  IAS noted that the Non-Commercial Users Constituency be specifically
identified as an entity to receive travel support.  IAS and OC noted the
potential benefits that travel support can provide for increasing involvement
from low-participating regions. 

Several contributors discussed the issue of potential conflict in providing
travel support to members who might also receive (or might otherwise receive)
travel funding from the business or other entities they are associated with. 
Some saw no issue with this, and might even view the framing of this conflict
question as wrong.  AD notes that arguably all community members come to
ICANN with some interests, and that this should not disqualify them from
receiving travel support.  GR notes that community members should be in a
position that they can manage perceptions of conflict, and that broadened
travel support might actually ensure participation of more independent
participants.  On the other hand, the RyC notes concern that travel
reimbursement to individuals may be seen as subsidizing special interests. 
They further note a concern that travel subsidies could compromise

Several contributors mentioned the idea that ICANN might consider providing
travel based on financial need (RyC, AD).  This concept was likely at the
heart of regional outreach comments by IAS and OC.  AD noted the difficulty
in assessing/proving need. 

What level of support is appropriate?

AD argues that a principal of fairness arising from the bottom-up policy
development structure of ICANN is that community members, Board members and
staff should all travel on the same policies. 

Several contributors point to standard length of travel metrics in selecting
between coach and business class (PVW, PS, CS, OC, AD).  Many of these same
contributors noted that a standardized per diem approach would be a useful
approach for reimbursing other-than-airfare expenses.  AD further noted that
it could make sense to have a policy where all (Board, staff, community)
traveled economy class in order to reduce the budget impact of travel

Other comments

As noted elsewhere, the RyC does not support direct reimbursement of travel
expenses from the general operating budget.  The RyC suggested that
constituency members should seek travel support funding, if necessary, from
their constituency bodies.  The RyC also indicated that there may be a model
that makes sense where, if needed, ICANN could provide funding from the
general operating budget to constituencies for this purpose, stressing
reporting, transparency and the requirement to demonstrate efficacy. 

The RyC also suggested that a better framing of the question would be to
consider how best to use ICANN operating funds to improve participation.  The
RyC would first favor use of the budget to improve the opportunities and
quality of remote participation.  OC had some comments regarding aspects of
the Fellowship program that are not addressed as part of the travel support
program, but have been forwarded to staff responsible for that program. 

Next Steps

Staff will propose any possible modifications to the Board for consideration,
and, ultimately, incorporation into ICANN's budget. 

Contributors are in order of first appearance:
Patrick Vande Walle (PVW)
Imran Ahmed Shah (IAS)
Philip Sheppard (PS)
Carlton Samuels (CS)
Avri Doria (AD)
Olga Cavalli (OC)
Gregory R. Ruth (GR)
Registry Constituency (RyC) [Comments posted after deadline]

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