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Minutes | Board Finance Committee (BFC) Meeting

BFC Attendees: Cherine Chalaby (Co-Chair), Ron da Silva, Chris Disspain, Asha Hemrajani (Co-Chair), Markus Kummer, and George Sadowsky

Other Board member Attendees: Rafael Lito Ibarra and Lousewies van der Laan

ICANN Executive and Staff member Attendees: Susanna Bennett (Chief Operating Officer), Xavier Calvez (Chief Financial Officer), Daniel Halloran (Deputy General Counsel), Melissa King (VP, Board Operations), Becky Nash (VP, Finance), Wendy Profit (Board Operations Specialist), Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel)

Invited Guests: J. Beckwith Burr; representatives from State Street Global Advisors


The following is a summary of discussions, actions taken and actions identified:

  1. BFC Schedule – The BFC reviewed the BFC schedule for the current FY17 Q1, and the upcoming FY17 Q2 and Q3.
  2. Reserve Fund: Quarterly Investment Performance Review – State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), ICANN’s independent investment manager, provided the BFC with an overview of the Reserve Fund’s investment performance. SSGA noted that there was an ICANN withdrawal from the Reserve Fund on 22 April 2016 in the amount of US$8.7 million and the final market value of the Reserve Fund as of 30 June 2016 was US$71,832,122.00. The BFC noted that the withdrawal was in order to fund the IANA Stewardship transition and accountability work. SSGA further noted that as of 31 July 2016 the Reserve Fund portfolio increased to US$72.9 million and further increased to US$73.08 million as of 31 August 2016. Staff noted that there will be additional withdrawals from the Reserve Fund, not currently represented in these figures, for the continuing expenses of the IANA Stewardship transition. SSGA noted that the Reserve Fund investment portfolio construction is consistent with the investment policy mandate of the Reserve Fund in offering a moderately conservative portfolio profile. SSGA also reminded the BFC that the portfolio was transitioned in December 2015 from a strategic asset allocation mandate to a tactical asset allocation mandate, and indicated that the portfolio has been biased slightly more defensively from the beginning of calendar year 2016. Since inception with SSGA in 2011, the total returns (gross) of the Reserve Fund portfolio have increased 6.81% per annum, while taking less risk in the portfolio on a year-to-date basis.
  3. Investment of Auction Proceeds – At the BFC’s 30 August 2016 meeting, the BFC discussed the options for investing auction proceeds, noted that the new gTLD funds are currently invested at three different investment management firms, and agreed to recommend to the Board that the auction proceeds also be divided among the three investment firms. The BFC had asked staff to prepare a proposal for the separation and investment of those funds. Staff reminded the BFC that the auction proceeds collected through the end of FY16 are invested at one of the three investment firms, and reported that staff has been discussing the issues of liquidity and capital preservation with the other two investment management firms in order to provide a suggested approach for investment. Staff proposed that the auction proceeds collected to date in FY17 be invested equally between the two remaining investment managers, initially held in cash (for increased liquidity) and then invested in liquid and capital reserve funds, once the investment managers provide suggested strategies. The BFC agreed to recommend that the Board approve investing the auction proceeds across the three investment management firms currently used, that the auction proceeds be maintained in separate accounts from the new gTLD funds, and that the investment objective of the auction proceeds be focused on high liquidity and high capital preservation.
    • Action:
      • Staff to prepare a Board paper for the BFC’s review and approval.
  4. PTI and ICANN FY18 Operating Plan and Budget Calendar – The BFC reviewed the FY18 Operating Plan and Budget calendars for PTI and ICANN, and noted that the planning cycle has increased in complexity because there are separate calendars for PTI and for ICANN. The BFC reviewed the budget planning process for FY18, and noted that the CWG requirements call for the PTI budget to be submitted at least nine months in advance of the fiscal year that it relates to and that it be approved in advance of the ICANN budget approval. The PTI operating plan and budget will be posted for public comment in FY17 Q2, and then it will be reviewed and approved by the PTI Board in FY17 Q3. Once that process is complete, the BFC will then recommend that the ICANN Board approve the funding for PTI, which is expected to be approximately US$9 million per year. A draft of the ICANN budget (inclusive of PTI) would then be submitted to the ICANN BFC and the ICANN Board in February-March 2017, posted for public comment in March 2017, and then submitted to the ICANN Board for approval in May-June 2017.
  5. Reserve Fund Replenishment – The BFC noted that the Reserve Fund is projected to be US$51 million by the end of FY17. The BFC noted that the Reserve Fund has been depleted in order to fund the IANA Stewardship transition and accountability work. The BFC further noted that the target level for the Reserve Fund should be US$132 million, which is the equivalent of twelve months of operating costs. This means that there is a projected shortfall in the Reserve Fund of US$79 million by the end of FY17. In addition, PTI will need to have a separate Reserve Fund, which should be the equivalent of 3-5 years of operating expenditures for PTI. The BFC discussed several possible options for replenishing the Reserve Fund, and directed staff to draft a summary and analysis of the options to present to the BFC for review and, ultimately, be presented to the community for input and to the Board for approval.
    • Action:
      • Staff to prepare a summary and analysis of the possible options for replenishing the Reserve Fund for the BFC’s review.
  6. Funding for Multi-Year Projects – Staff explained that ICANN has several multi-year projects that extend over several years, have a significant and varying impact on the annual expenses, and are challenging to manage within the current annual budget process. Staff noted that there is a need for a mechanism to handle multi-year projects so that the projects can continue as needed and the funding for such projects is transparent. The BFC then discussed methods to define and establish a long-term sustainable multi-year funding approach rather than an annual funding approach for certain multi-year projects, and decided to continue the discussion at the next BFC meeting.
Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."