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Chair's Blog: Year End & Well Wishes

18 December 2017
By Cherine Chalaby

I am writing to you from the 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), in Geneva, Switzerland, where I am here with some of my Board colleagues and members of the ICANN community engaging with the broader Internet governance community. Thematic issues that can impact our technical mandate are being discussed here. These issues include privacy and data protection, jurisdiction, intellectual property, cyber security and many more. We are represented in those discussions, so that our points of view are considered as policies, legislations and priorities are formed around the world.

If you are at the IGF, please join us for an ICANN Open Forum session; you can find more details about our participation here.

In this blog, I want to provide you with an update on some outstanding items and our final Board meeting of the year as December wraps up.

ICANN Reserve Fund

As you may recall from my blog on the Board's Priorities for the year, the Board is concerned about the depletion in the ICANN Reserve Fund.

We recently concluded a public comment period on an updated rationale and target level for the Reserve Fund. While we await the final staff summary report (which should be published shortly), it looks like there is a general consensus from the community that the Reserve Fund should have a target level of a minimum of 12 months of operating expenses. Based on the expected findings of that report, we anticipate discussing a resolution to this end at our next board workshop in early February 2018.

Now that the public comment period has closed, we have begun discussion and debate inside ICANN org and the Board on the options available for replenishing the Reserve Fund. As of the end of September 2017, the Reserve Fund was at the five-month level. We are therefore facing a shortfall of approximately seven months, equivalent to $80 million U.S. dollars (USD), based on our current budget. We plan to release another paper for public comments early next year to solicit community input on how best to replenish the Reserve Fund.

Pressures on the FY19 Budget

Over the past years ICANN's funding has consistently increased, which has enabled ICANN org to respond flexibly to requests to fund projects that are proposed outside the normal budgeting cycle. This flexibility is unlikely to continue, as funding is appearing to stabilize for the foreseeable future at the FY17 level of approximately $135 million USD per fiscal year. For your information, the FY18 funding budget is $143 million USD.

This projected funding level will necessitate making trade-off decisions when developing the FY19 Budget. Furthermore, it will be challenging during the next fiscal year to undertake new projects that have not been planned for in the FY19 Budget, unless and until ICANN org has concluded that available contingency funds can responsibly be allocated for that purpose or has identified corresponding budget savings to offset unplanned spending. Göran expands on this issue in his blog.

We must also look beyond the FY19 Budget. The community, the Board and ICANN org must soon begin discussions about longer-term goals and strategic planning.

Board Resolutions from 13 December Meeting

We held our final Board meeting of 2017 last week, and had a productive session. We passed four resolutions, including appointing Kim Davies to the role of PTI President, and appointing the Board directors to PTI. Congratulations to all on their new positions. We also approved the at-risk component of Göran Marby's compensation for the first six months of FY18, and agreed with Göran on his goals for the second half of FY18. Read the resolutions in greater detail here.

Progress of Board Member Integrity Screening

On 1 November, I posted a blog discussing the issue of Board member integrity screening and outlining the steps we were taking. We requested that four directors and three liaisons be screened, and I am pleased to say all seven screenings have just been completed and are now in the regular process of being reviewed.

With all that being said, on behalf of the Board I wish everyone a happy and healthy year ahead. I hope you have a peaceful holiday season and look forward to 2018.


Cherine Chalaby

Former ICANN Board Chair