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All our financial information at the click of a button

13 August 2009

Kevin Wilson

One of the consistent pieces of feedback I receive as ICANN’s Chief Financial Officer is that people want to know what it is that the organization is spending its money on. We have been been working hard to come up with ways of showing this clearly, especially so over the past year.

ICANN is a public benefit not-for-profit company and we recognize that you, as a community, need to be kept informed about our finances so that we remain accountable.

So here is a rundown of what we have produced with respect to finances. The hope is that you can follow the budget process all the way through from the strategic planning to the draft budget stage and through to seeing where the money comes from and where it goes to.

You should also, by the time you reach the end of this post, know how and when you can provide input into that process and so directly influence the budgeting process.

The dashboard

First up, because it has simple graphics and because it is constantly updated is the dashboard. The dashboard is a compilation of a wide range of data across the organization designed to be easy to review by the community. There is a big button on the front page on the left-hand column that links directly to it, otherwise you can find it at: http://www.icann.org/idashboard/public/

As you enter the dashboard, the opening page is our unaudited financial information. Here you can see the year-to-date expenditure of the organization, alongside what we have budgeted. You can also see where the money comes from plus what we have budgeted for. This year we will be showing more detailed functional budgets as the expenditures to date for each organizational activity.

General info

Next up is the part of the website in which we keep financial information for ICANN. You can find by clicking Documents and then Financial Information, or just click here: http://www.icann.org/en/general/financial.html

There are three sections of financial information. One section is for general financial information, one for the current fiscal year, including the budget, and the last section is for historical financial information on ICANN, that goes back each year to ICANN’s inception.

Under “general financial information” you can find general financial policies such as ICANN’s disbursement policy, the ICANN Investment Policy, Travel Support Guidelines, tax exempt status documents, and so on.

The next section is for current year financial information. It includes the current year’s adopted operating plan and budget, the IRS tax form 990, payments made to directors, travel support reports, and audited financial statements.

The last section is for historical information. It contains the same types of information as the current year.

Operating Plan and Budget

It is worth noting here that every year, the operating plan and budget that we produce is put out to public comment. We also always run public sessions at ICANN meetings where members of the community are allowed to ask questions and raise queries about any aspect of either the plan or the budget.

For example, the most recent public comment period for the FY2010 budget – which has since been approved – can be found here: http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200906.html#draft-opplan-budget.

Comment periods

A number of people commented – as you can see by clicking on “comments”. And a summary of those public comments is posted to the same list and is available here: http://forum.icann.org/lists/op-budget-fy2010/msg00021.html. That summary is then used to make changes to the budget.

So the budget for the financial year we have just stepped into has been finalized, but what about next year FY11 for the financial year from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011?

Strategic Plan

Well, we are just about to start on our strategic planning sessions – where the community itself gets to decide what the priorities are for the organization and so where it should spend it money.

This process will kick off soon – it will be announced on the front page when it is. In the meantime, you can view the 2008-2011 Strategic Plan here: http://www.icann.org/en/strategic-plan/

And an explanation of how that process works is given here: http://www.icann.org/en/planning/

I hope this is helpful in understanding both the financial information that we make available to you as well as the the entry points for community feedback. We take ICANN’s commitment to accountability and transparency to heart.

If you have any questions, if you feel we are still not providing enough information, or the right information, or if you want to know more about how you can respond to the budgeting process, please just post a comment below and we’ll review it and get back.

Thanks

Kevin Wilson
Chief Financial Officer, ICANN

Kevin Wilson