Minutes | Board Finance Committee (BFC) Meeting 17 August 2017

BFC Attendees: Becky Burr, Cherine Chalaby, Ron da Silva, Asha Hemrajani (Chair), and George Sadowsky.

BFC Member Apologies: Markus Kummer and Lousewies van der Laan.

Invited Board Risk Committee (BRC) Member Attendees: Ram Mohan (Co-Chair) and Jonne Soininen.

Invited BRC Member Apologies: Maarten Botterman, Akinori Maemura, Rafael Lito Ibarra, Mike Silber and Kaveh Ranjbar.

Other Board Attendees: Steve Crocker and Goran Marby

ICANN Organization Attendees: Xavier Calvez (Chief Financial Officer), David Conrad (SVP & Chief Technology Officer), Jana Juginovic (Senior Director, Communication and Content), Mark Segall (Director, Community Collaboration Services) Elizabeth Le (Associate General Counsel), Becky Nash (VP, Finance), Ashwin Rangan (Sr VP Engineering & Chief Information Officer), and Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel)

The following is a summary of joint discussions, actions taken, and actions identified by the Board Finance Committee and invited members of the Board Risk Committee at the meeting:

  1. Background on the Information Transparency Initiative – The BRC members discussed the purpose of the meeting, which is to provide the Committees with an overview of the Information Transparency Initiative. As a preliminary matter, the Committee members noted that they have conducted joint meetings in the past to review significant activities or project. The Information Transparency Initiative is a proposal to solve the current content crisis, mitigate risk, and meet ICANN organization's post-Transition commitments to transparency and accountability. Currently, information exists in unstructured content across 38 different web sites using multiple disconnected technologies and platforms, without a cohesive system in place to govern, preserve, organize, or secure ICANN's public content. The information is a valuable asset that represents ICANN's history, institutional memory, policymaking dialogues, and the knowledge that ICANN is obligated to share with our stakeholders. The technologies are outmoded particularly since ICANN has grown so rapidly. The current structure lacks the ability to address the growing technology requirements of the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees (SO/ACs). There are over 104,000 pieces of content on ICANN's most visible public facing sites that need to be organized and structured in any meaningful manner. The current structure is not scalable or secured. The Information Transparency Initiative will create an ongoing operational activity to improve ICANN organization's technical infrastructure and content governance, build a content governance foundation that will make use of consistent tagging throughout the documents, and have a functional information architecture with enforced workflows for the creation of content. The project will deploy a document management system that will be the foundation for an ecosystem-wide governance mechanism. The Information Transparency Initiative project is focused on changing ICANN's content governance process by using existing technologies. The Information Transparency Initiative will provide up-to-date and easy to find information in all six official U.N. languages as part of achieving ICANN's commitments to transparency and accountability.

    Scope of the Information Transparency Initiative - The scope of the Information Transparency Initiative will cover 15 external websites that include icann.org, meetings.icann.org, forms.icann.org, registration.icann.org, and associated sites. In the future, the Board may be asked to consider including other public sites associated with ICANN into a second phase of the project, as the technology platforms, taxonomy, and information architecture that will be deployed for the current scope will serve as the foundational elements for ICANN public sites that are currently out of scope.

    Approach/Implementation Plan – The ICANN organization plans to first audit and tag externally facing content on icann.org. The outcomes will serve as the foundation for ICANN organization's multilingual content governance for the entire ICANN and SO/AC ecosystem. The ICANN organization will then enforce and implement, governance processes through workflows. The content on icann.org will be migrated into a document management system. The ICANN organization will then integrate the document management system with a new content management system, and surface the content through the new content management system.

  2. Overview of the Financial Elements of the Information Transparency Initiative – The Committee members received a briefing of the Information Transparency Initiative related costs and the elements of funding to support the costs over time. The project is estimated to last 24 months, beginning in January 2018, which is Q3 of FY18. With respect to the funding for the Information Transparency Initiative, the project is and will be accounted for as part of the budget development annual process that occurs every year. ICANN organization is also suggesting using a fraction of the FY17 excess funding to support the Information Transparency Initiative project. The total amount of funding need to for the Information Transparency Initiative over a five-year period would be equivalent to the funding that would be required to operate the current systems in place. The BFC noted that two issues need to be addressed by the BFC: (i) whether the costs are reasonable and (2) whether the costs are affordable. The BFC noted that the extensive procurement process for vendor selection ensured that the costs of the project incurred are reasonable because the process included competitive bidding and comparisons of costs and services across the bidders.

    • Actions:

      • ICANN organization to provide the BFC with a full presentation on all excess funds for FY17 at the next BFC meeting.
      • ICANN organization to provide BFC with materials to review and approve by email.
  3. Overview of the Risk Analysis of the Information Transparency Initiative – The Committee members discussed five key risk categories associated with the Information Transparency Initiative project: (1) financial risk; (2) technology risk; (3) information risk; (4) reputational risk; and (5) execution risk. The present Risk Committee members noted that, based upon past discussions, the two areas of maximum concern are execution risk and financial risk. With respect to the execution risk, the present Risk Committee members noted that the Information Transparency Initiative project is a large project spanning multiple years costing millions of dollars, and there is a good level of history that demonstrates that these types of large projects have a tendency to go off course. Therefore, the primary concern from a risk perspective is to make sure that there is sufficient governance and sufficient process and phases of the project in place. With respect to the financial risk, the primary concern is whether a 30% contingency on funding and a six-month timeline buffer is sufficient to address unforeseen delays and costs. There is concern about the potential of one big unknown to come up that can easily consume a three-month cycle and/or add millions of dollars more to the cost. The present Risk Committee members also discussed a potential reputational risk component, which might include user expectations exceeding ultimate capability and working with the community is important in managing such a risk.

    • Action:

      • When reporting on the project in the future, ICANN organization to prepare a risk-based presentation as opposed to a progress-based presentation for the Information Transparency Initiative.

Published on 2 November 2017