All our financial information at the click of a button

by Kevin Wilson on August 13, 2009

One of the consistent pieces of feedback I receive as ICANN’s Chief Financial Officer is that people want to know what it is that the organization is spending its money on. We have been been working hard to come up with ways of showing this clearly, especially so over the past year.

ICANN is a public benefit not-for-profit company and we recognize that you, as a community, need to be kept informed about our finances so that we remain accountable.

So here is a rundown of what we have produced with respect to finances. The hope is that you can follow the budget process all the way through from the strategic planning to the draft budget stage and through to seeing where the money comes from and where it goes to.

You should also, by the time you reach the end of this post, know how and when you can provide input into that process and so directly influence the budgeting process.

The dashboard

First up, because it has simple graphics and because it is constantly updated is the dashboard. The dashboard is a compilation of a wide range of data across the organization designed to be easy to review by the community. There is a big button on the front page on the left-hand column that links directly to it, otherwise you can find it at: http://www.icann.org/idashboard/public/

As you enter the dashboard, the opening page is our unaudited financial information. Here you can see the year-to-date expenditure of the organization, alongside what we have budgeted. You can also see where the money comes from plus what we have budgeted for. This year we will be showing more detailed functional budgets as the expenditures to date for each organizational activity.

General info

Next up is the part of the website in which we keep financial information for ICANN. You can find by clicking Documents and then Financial Information, or just click here: http://www.icann.org/en/general/financial.html

There are three sections of financial information. One section is for general financial information, one for the current fiscal year, including the budget, and the last section is for historical financial information on ICANN, that goes back each year to ICANN’s inception.

Under “general financial information” you can find general financial policies such as ICANN’s disbursement policy, the ICANN Investment Policy, Travel Support Guidelines, tax exempt status documents, and so on.

The next section is for current year financial information. It includes the current year’s adopted operating plan and budget, the IRS tax form 990, payments made to directors, travel support reports, and audited financial statements.

The last section is for historical information. It contains the same types of information as the current year.

Operating Plan and Budget

It is worth noting here that every year, the operating plan and budget that we produce is put out to public comment. We also always run public sessions at ICANN meetings where members of the community are allowed to ask questions and raise queries about any aspect of either the plan or the budget.

For example, the most recent public comment period for the FY2010 budget – which has since been approved – can be found here: http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/public-comment-200906.html#draft-opplan-budget.

Comment periods

A number of people commented – as you can see by clicking on “comments”. And a summary of those public comments is posted to the same list and is available here: http://forum.icann.org/lists/op-budget-fy2010/msg00021.html. That summary is then used to make changes to the budget.

So the budget for the financial year we have just stepped into has been finalized, but what about next year FY11 for the financial year from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011?

Strategic Plan

Well, we are just about to start on our strategic planning sessions – where the community itself gets to decide what the priorities are for the organization and so where it should spend it money.

This process will kick off soon – it will be announced on the front page when it is. In the meantime, you can view the 2008-2011 Strategic Plan here: http://www.icann.org/en/strategic-plan/

And an explanation of how that process works is given here: http://www.icann.org/en/planning/

I hope this is helpful in understanding both the financial information that we make available to you as well as the the entry points for community feedback. We take ICANN’s commitment to accountability and transparency to heart.

If you have any questions, if you feel we are still not providing enough information, or the right information, or if you want to know more about how you can respond to the budgeting process, please just post a comment below and we’ll review it and get back.

Thanks

Kevin Wilson
Chief Financial Officer, ICANN

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

George Kirikos 08.13.09 at 4:44 pm

The investment losses of $4.6 million, buried in a note on the dashboard (removed from the graph itself to make it less obvious to the public) has been stuck at $4.6 million for months, ever since the losses were exposed on blogs (which also were mentioned in the Congressional Hearing on ICANN).

Since the stock market and bond markets fluctuate, I find it hard to believe that the loss would not have gone up and down in months. Why isn’t ICANN updating the true figure on a monthly basis, like it does other numbers?

Of course the right thing to do was to have never invested the emergency reserve fund in volatile assets to begin with, as discussed in depth on CircleID months ago (i.e. there is a big difference between endowments and emergency reserve funds). Rod Beckstrom, who has a finance background like myself, should certainly know this too.

Kieren McCarthy 08.14.09 at 9:05 am

@George: Not sure “buried in a note” is an entirely accurate description of what we’re talking about.

Also, as you must know perfectly well this issue was dealt with in some length in a blog post on Circle ID with the CFO explaining the process and reasoning behind ICANN’s investment policy.

On that same post, your comments, George, were described as a “huge over-reaction” and as the result of a “kneejerk mentality where everything that ICANN does is Evil“.

That said, I will look into whether the note accompanying the figures is also updated monthly.

Cheers

George Kirikos 08.14.09 at 9:16 am

Nice attempt to misquote, Kieren. If one actually looks at the “huge over-reaction” quote you linked to, it was referring to “allegations of corruption” by a “Joe XX” (look at comment #17, and then comment #18 directly below it). If folks read all the comments and in context, they certainly don’t make the case you’re attempting to make, but thanks for linking to them.

And given the issue made it to congress, where Paul Twomey took a beating under questioning from lawmakers, it’s clear they are the ones that matter, not those self-serving attempts to avoid accountability by ICANN staffers and insiders. Anyone can go watch the videos on the US government’s website to see who is right.

George Kirikos 08.31.09 at 2:03 pm

Instead of increasing the frequency of updates of the investment losses to monthly, please note that ICANN removed the figures entirely from the dashboard. Obviously this is a step in the wrong direction, an attempt to decrease transparency and decrease accountability to the public for their financial mismanagement.

Jerry 12.23.09 at 9:52 pm

4.6MM in the stock market and this is a NON-PROFIT Organization. My question is how many millions are you sick “board members” pocketing ?

How about take that money and invest it in something worth while….

Mr.fireigg 01.30.10 at 9:47 am

Thanks for sharing this information.It is useful for me.

Sham The Forex Tip Trading Guy 08.27.10 at 4:15 pm

I think there is still needs for CFO of ICANN to respond to comment from Mr George Kirikos. By leaving the comments without any reply will surely damage the image of ICANN. Hopefully Mr. Kevin Wilson have something to say about this. Do not jeopardize your image.

Ian 08.28.10 at 5:52 am

Is ICANN a totally independent organization – and if so – does it really need to turn a profit? Couldn’t it be funded by an international body?

Manny on Stock Market 09.02.10 at 8:06 am

I thought ICANN is a non-profit corporation. Do they really need to have a profit?

Jim Fleming 11.05.10 at 1:03 am

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/04/AR2010110406933.html

“LOS ANGELES — A judge questioned Thursday whether outgoing state Attorney General Jerry Brown has the legal authority to sue eight current and former officials of the scandal-plagued city of Bell over their huge salaries, saying the issue might be better resolved in criminal court.

Brown, who was elected governor Tuesday, filed suit in September accusing the officials of taking salaries that were so far out of line with what they should have been paid that they broke the law. ”

“When Brown announced the lawsuit, he said he hoped to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars in inflated salaries for residents. He acknowledged it was a novel legal approach but said he was confident his office had the authority.

“You can’t just take the public’s money and give it to yourself or give it to your friendly employees or members of the city council just because you want to,” he said at the time. “

Oshawa Realtor 12.02.10 at 9:44 am

No such thing as a non-profit organization per se. Money is always coming in but it’s what the organizers do with the money that’s always the issue. Who’s watching them? I know a couple of well off religious people that work for the church, can this be similar

Psychologist Perth 02.03.11 at 3:59 am

This is great. More organisations should provide this info in such an easy-to-read way.

Gerard 04.10.12 at 6:52 am

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como hacer yoga 12.10.12 at 6:15 am

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