[At-Large] ICANN financials

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Thu Apr 14 19:37:31 UTC 2011

On 04/14/2011 01:21 AM, Christian de Larrinaga wrote:

>> From a $9m conceivable ceiling to $66m in receipts within eight
>> years? That really needs looking into. Does At Large have the
>> wherewithal to lead on that?

A bit of history - back in 2000 when I was elected to the board one of 
the first things I did was to ask to review ICANN's financial ledgers. 
The result was 18 months of ICANN resistance, which required me to being 
legal action against ICANN, which despite ICANN's attempts to portray it 
to the contrary, I won, hands down.

(And certain board members and board chairmen have not spoken to me 
since - which is to me a sign that many of ICANN's board members never 
really understood - and still do not understand - the oversight duty of 
a board member and, instead, view ICANN's board as a honorific gathering 
of worthies rather than a body that holds the plenary responsibility and 
power to "direct" ICANN.)

ICANN, much to its credit, responded to the court order with a positive 
and cooperative spirit and immediately opened the ledgers.

I found exactly what I had hoped and expected to find - nothing more 
than the typical operations of a small, new organization.  Yes there 
were some problems - too much was being spent without proper 
authorization trails, the law firm was charging too much, etc etc. 
ICANN did fix many of these things.

There was nothing nefarious in the ledgers.  And I personally do not 
expect that a similar inquiry today would find anything worse than the 
typical unintended errors and mistakes of any organization.

Nevertheless, the California legislature created that "absolute right" 
(yes the legislature used the word "absolute") of inspection for a good 

It would make sense for an ALAC director to pull in an outside 
accountant to periodically take a look.  The ALAC might need to come up 
with some $$ to pay that accountant.

Again, don't expect to find anything terrible - but knowing that eyes 
are looking does tend to create more careful use of ICANN money.

(And there were other things that I found - For instance ICANN did not 
have a body of employee policies, an employee handbook.  As a result of 
my findings they did put one into effect - using their most expensive 
law firm to write something that they could have done for a few hundred 
dollars.  The point of this is that ICANN when faced with multiple 
roads, it does have a history of taking the vastly most expensive one.)

Had ICANN not tried to dance around the California law that defines a 
"member" form of a public-benefit/non-profit corporation than those of 
use who are members would have had greater powers of inspection than we 
obtain today from ICANN - see 


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