According to page 123 of ICANN's annual report:
d. Commitment to continued payment in the salary span of 50th to 75th percentile of for-profit market place of companies of a similar size and complexity to ICANN (the actual salary within this band determined by the individual's experience and talent and market position);
Note that the comparables have been "for-profit". This is obviously ridiculous, given the purported non-profit nature of ICANN, with its inherent job security. Indeed, ICANN has had major blunders, yet to my knowledge no staff were ever held accountable through termination or pay reductions.
The Economist magazine - Click to Enlarge
Source: Stephane Van GelderIn addition, by using the above criteria, ICANN staff know that they would personally benefit by increasing the size of the organization, thereby allowing themselves to be compared to a better "comparable" when determining compensation. This pro-size bias has already appeared to influenced ICANN policy formulation, for example rushing to roll out gTLDs which would bring in revenues to ICANN (and increased staff), despite the great opposition of the community. Indeed, ICANN appears to be promoting them as a fait accompli in media such as The Economist, with dog and pony shows to follow.
We see this spendthrift attitude in the ICANN fellowship program, where money is thrown away, even repeatedly to prior fellows ("Nine of the fellows are alumni from the past 5 programmes") while constituencies get limited or no support when they bear the brunt of the real input into policy work.
In conclusion, these bad incentives need to be corrected, through a more appropriate set of compensation principles. For example, the comparables should only include government and non-profit agencies. It is clear that things would get even worse if ICANN were to have its independence from US government oversight, and thus that oversight should continue indefinitely. Indeed, it is a slap in the face of consumers and the public that ICANN staff are feasting as if they are in a dot-com bubble company, rather than demonstrating the conservative financial and policy principles of non-profits and government agencies that are accountable to the public. Given the current economy, I am confident that ICANN will have no problems replacing any ICANN staff members who resign due to a reduction in salary to a level comparable to those in government or in non-profits.
By George Kirikos, President, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.