President's Corner: Finances & Planning for the Next Two Years
One of my personal priorities for my role in ICANN is continuing to improve ICANN org's efforts to be transparent, accountable and accessible. In this spirit, I am sharing something the Executive Team and I have been spending a lot of time lately, and an area of great focus for us in the coming year. By now I hope you have also read the blog by Cherine on this topic.
As I mentioned in the recent Quarterly Stakeholder Call, we saw slower funding in the first quarter of FY18 by $1m versus our approved budget, with lower domain name registrations than planned. So, we believe the FY18 funding could remain flat compared to FY17's funding, instead of the growth budgeted in FY18. We need to make some changes to address that. And, at the same time, we are currently planning for the next two years out – FY19 and FY20. We are also forecasting lower funding for FY19 compared to the approved FY18 budget. As Cherine mentioned, there is also a discussion going on about the Reserve Fund, and we need to factor that into our planning.
As a non-profit it is important that we stay within our budget. That takes some work but I feel confident the ICANN community will support us in this effort. The reality is, ICANN has a significant budget but not an infinite budget. We need to make some changes, and can't do everything we are asked. You as the ICANN community will feel the impact of some of those changes. We have already begun addressing this by focusing on finding efficiencies where possible.
For example, when someone leaves ICANN org, we are taking a close look at the vacancy, the team's needs and other people's availability and skills before deciding if we are going to fill the role. We are also looking at our staff travel practices for ICANN meetings and other ICANN org commitments, reviewing our language services support levels and offering, and trying to consolidate our collateral and the volume of reports. We are looking at what projects we could delay or stop, and reviewing things with a fresh set of eyes – just because we've always done something a certain way, doesn't mean that's the right choice now. These are just a few examples. We are examining a lot of our internal policies and spending levels, and looking closely at how we do things to make sure we do the right thing, in the most efficient way. It is important that we govern our work to our means.
I wanted to share this with you now, to let you know you will occasionally be seeing some changes in how we operate. Some will be bigger than others, and for the ones that impact you, you will be asked to participate in public comment periods, discussions around priorities and strategic planning, and sessions with ICANN org to help us understand what is most important to you. There will be a budget out for public comment mid-January 2018 and I hope you will review and participate actively.
Of course, you are in charge of the final version of the budget. I look forward to the result of your input.