Where is ICANN’s 2010 Annual Report?
It is typically produced at the end of the calendar year. The 2009 Report was published on 24 December 2009, and the 2008 Report on 31 December 2008. It is currently 23 February 2011 and so far no 2010 Annual Report.
Two months late is sloppy by any measure, and it is most likely down the high level of exits in ICANN in the past 12 months – not least in this case Sara Stohl who as publications manager was responsible for chasing the disparate groups in ICANN and pulling together the report in time (Sara left in November 2010 and her post is still unfilled).
But there’s sloppy and there’s breaking bylaws. According to ICANN’s bylaws:
The Board shall publish, at least annually, a report describing its activities, including an audited financial statement and a description of any payments made by ICANN to Directors (including reimbursements of expenses). ICANN shall cause the annual report and the annual statement of certain transactions as required by the CNPBCL to be prepared and sent to each member of the Board and to such other persons as the Board may designate, no later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the close of ICANN’s fiscal year.
ICANN’s Fiscal Year ends on 30 June each year. In this case it means that Board should have received the annual report no later than 29 October 2010. The fact that the report still hasn’t been published doesn’t mean Board members didn’t actually receive the report before 29 October – they may still be holding it or checking it – but it might be worth asking as four months is a pretty long time to read 50 pages.
However the bylaws say that “The Board shall publish, at least annually” – and it is pretty clear that 14 months and counting is definitely not “at least annually”. No one is going to bat an eyelid if an Annual Report is published a week within the previous year’s but it is now 60 days later than the 2009 Annual Report (taking today, 23 February as the date).
So has ICANN broken its bylaws? I’d say, well, yes.
And I would lodge that complaint with the ICANN Ombudsman, but he left on 31 January, and ICANN is still looking for his replacement as well.
It makes you wonder what else is going on – or not going on – in other departments where the flood of exits has left big gaps. The compliance department is still missing a senior director, senior auditor and manager (David Giza left in July 2010; William McKelligott resigned in May 2010). How long until that blows up?
There is no Chief Security Officer; or Chief of Staff; no Vice President at ICANN’s costly headquarters in Brussels (how will that impact relations with the EU at a crucial time?); and two At Large Officer posts are currently waiting to be filled, months after the first At Large member was pulled onto the Board. That’s not all the vacant posts either.
In the meantime, the organisation has to deal with a hastily organised and unprecedented meeting between the Board and governments in Brussels next week – a last-second compromise decision between the ICANN and GAC chairs that borders on irresponsible given the resources it has chewed in a very short period of time with no certainty of outcome.
And then there is the ICANN San Francisco meeting two weeks after that. Not to mention the loss of the June meeting in Jordan because of protests in the Middle East. ICANN is frantically looking for a replacement city – but would it not do better to get its own house in order first?
You have to wonder whether this organisational shambles comes as a result of losing the majority (someone calculated it over 70 percent) of senior management since the new CEO came on board.
And talking of Board, isn’t this why they exist in the first place – to keep an eye on these issues and make sure that poor management doesn’t bring down the organisation with it? Even – in fact, especially – when it is the Board who are breaking their own bylaws.
ICANN has always been a hot-bed of intrigue and petty-minded politics but with first the independent review of a Board decision, and then an independent review of the organisation’s transparency and accountability both finding significant problems with the organisation, you have to wonder whether the problems rest less with the difficulties of the model and more those charged with managing it.