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How Much Has ICANN Spent On The IANA Transition?

Michele Neylon

ICANN critics often focus on ICANN's expenditure. The organisation's overall budget had been growing for years prior to the new TLD program launch. However with the new TLD launch it mushroomed very quickly, with the organisation collecting $185k per application. With 1930 applications that gave them $357,050,000 — though admittedly there were quite a few applications withdrawn at various stages which would have reduced the overall pot. The key thing, however, is that ICANN's overall budget is big and how it decides to spend that money will always be subject to quite a bit of scrutiny.

Late last night ICANN published some of the details of their expenditure associated with the ongoing "IANA Transition". We knew that the spend had gone up and that ICANN's board had been asked recently to authorise further expenditure. They did:

Resolved (2016.02.03.19), the Board approves a budget envelope of up to US$4.5 million, as an interim measure, to cover the costs of the Project incurred from December 2015 to the end of the ICANN55 in Marrakech (in addition to the budgeted envelope of US$7 million included in the already approved FY16 Operating Plan and Budget) to be funded through a fund release from the Reserve Fund.

In case you don't do USD to Euro conversions, at today's rates those numbers become €4.14 million and €6.44 million respectively.

So where is all that money going?

The numbers released last night cover the period from July 2014 up to 31 December 2015. You can read all the details here, but the key figures are shown in this slide:

So up until December 31st of last year they'd spent a total of $18.1 million, with the bulk of that going on "professional fees" ($13.5 million).

There's a reasonable amount of detail in the various PDFs, including how much each legal firm has been paid.

I suspect that the numbers around this will be raised at various times during the upcoming ICANN meeting in Marrakech.

While many within the ICANN Community are respectful of the overall importance of the IANA transition the expenditure associated with it isn't without its impact and ultimately ICANN needs to be accountable for how it spends the money it has.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions
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Inconsistent Kieren McCarthy  –  Mar 01, 2016 2:09 PM PDT

Note that the money spent on external legal advice is broken out both by company and by time.

Not so the $1.35m spent on "professional services" which is almost entirely made up of the lobbying firms ICANN has hired in Washington: Albright Stonebridge Group, Rice Hadley Gates, Summit Strategies International, WBC Global and Wiley Rein.

That $1.35m is on top of the $946,000 spent on registered lobbying groups. The $800,000 that ICANN spends on its in-house lobbyist is not mentioned.

Also "language services" is very high at $1.7m. Why? Because for some reason "meeting support" has been added to that sub-group. What does this cover? Probably flights, accommodation and dinners. But again, the figures are not broken out to any useful degree.

Also why is ICANN paying $1m for "secretarial support" when most of that support is provided by staff already on salary?

The reports are specifically designed to hide expenses that the community may have questions about. They are also broken out in 18-month chunks for some inexplicable reason, rather than by fiscal year as it common practice.

@KierenI could be wrong, but didn't the Michele Neylon  –  Mar 01, 2016 2:31 PM PDT

@Kieren

I could be wrong, but didn't the CCWG or one of the other groups insist on getting an external secretariat?

I can't remember the rationale.

Michele

Yes Kieren McCarthy  –  Mar 01, 2016 2:49 PM PDT

Yes, the CCWG didn't trust ICANN staff to be independent and so put out a tender for a secretariat. I think a group from dotAsia got it.

How they would have spent $1m though is beyond me. I suspect they haven't and ICANN has stuck in some extra costs in there that it doesn't want to be transparent about.

The independent secretariat was for the ICG not the CCWG John Poole  –  Mar 01, 2016 8:37 PM PDT

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) selected a secretariat separate from ICANN--the Internet Society Singapore Chapter (ISOC SG) was selected as the contractor--https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-3-2015-01-12-en

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