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ICANN advised against director salaries

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2011, 10:36:14 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s legal staff advised its board of directors against rushing to grant themselves a pay packet, according to documents released today.

At its San Francisco meeting last month, ICANN’s board voted to adopt a package of 27 measures designed to improve the organization’s accountability and transparency.

One of the recommendations, provided by the Accountability and Transparency Review Team in December, asked the board to quickly implement a “compensation scheme” for ICANN’s voting directors.

Other than salaried president Rod Beckstrom, currently only the chairman, Peter Dengate Thrush, is paid for his work on the board.

But briefing documents provided to the board prior to the San Francisco vote, published today (pdf and pdf), reveal that ICANN staff recommended adopting only 26 of the 27 ATRT recommendation.

The original ATRT recommendation #5 reads:

The Board should expeditiously implement the compensation scheme for voting Directors as recommended by the Boston Consulting Group adjusted as necessary to address international payment issues, if any.

And the ICANN staff recommendation to the board reads:

Staff recommends that the Board not implement ATRT Recommendation #5 – a compensation scheme for voting Board Directors – at this time, but give adoption and implementation further consideration as detailed in the staff’s proposed implementation plan

Regardless, the board voted to adopt all 27 ATRT recommendations in San Francisco, including the board compensation plan idea. This was broadly welcomed by the community.

The precise reasoning behind the staff’s recommendation is not clear – the rationale has been redacted from the briefing documents – but director Bruce Tonkin gave a hint during remarks at the open board meeting in San Francisco, saying:

There are legal requirements for how a board could pass a motion to decide to compensate board members, which is one of the recommendations, and then there are obviously budget implications of doing that.

So just the legal steps that need to be followed will take a bit of time. Not years, but will take some months.

The ATRT report was fairly comprehensive, covering everything from how ICANN selects its board to how it interacts with its Governmental Advisory Committee, to what information it publishes on its web site.

The report also gave ICANN deadlines to hit on many recommendations, many of them June 2011.

But it appears from the just-published briefing documents that ICANN intends to miss those deadlines in several cases, due to the complexity of the work involved, by a few months to as much as a year or more.

In other, simpler, cases, ICANN has already met the recommendations. Many of ICANN’s policy-making processes are still due to get a shake-up, but some changes will take longer than expected.

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