Alan: Alright. I was a little confused by the agenda because it seemed to be talking about this item with return on investment and my first part is not return on investment other than conceptually. I'm willing to do it. I sent a note to Kevin and Steve, I guess beginning of December which was copied to the list and I'm assuming it was received. I never got any answer on it. But I'd like to go over it now just very quickly on the kinds of things that I think should be done to support the travel needs for At-Large. But I believe it applies as well to staff and to the other groups.
The first thing is the whole issue of arrival times and departure times which seems to be working much better in Nairobi than before. But I don't think it takes into account issues of when people actually have meetings. I would like to see that the arrival times be related to when people actually have to be functioning at the meeting. In other words, I don't think it's acceptable to show up at the airport at nine o'clock at night and maybe get to the hotel at midnight if they're expected to be in an eight AM meeting the next day after having flown for 32 hours. I won't go over all the details. You can go back and look at the document. But similarly, the situation is quite different if you don't have meetings until noon hour or until late in the day.
And similarly, with departures. I think we want to make sure that if we're paying someone to go halfway around the world, we don't tell them to leave before the important meetings are over. That's typically what we're doing right now in many cases. I think we should be able to identify when the last meeting is and don't expect them to leave the hotel until then. If we're expecting people to leave a hotel at midnight, I think ICANN should pay for enough of an extra room to at least let them have a shower or something like that before they leave.
And the last issues are how do you actually arrange airfare and what is optimal? The current words are using things like "lowest possible cost". And given that we're talking about people who potentially are working very hard, are doing this at no expense to ICANN, I think the details should be more reasonable. A lot of agencies, UN agencies for instance, say automatically people fly business class if it's over a certain number of hours. That, ICANN is not going to do and I don't think anyone is asking for that. I think, however, that based on the length of the flight, based on the relative costs, I think ICANN should be able to do better than simply the "lowest possible cost".
I know certainly I'm at a time in my life where I just can't take a 36 hour flight with no amenities at all, no access to lounges along the way, no ability to check in quickly, and if that's available at a reasonable increase in cost, I think ICANN should be paying it and similarly on very long flights, if economy plus or premium economy is available, I think that should be something that ICANN should be paying. On the other side, I think – at least I understand that there are people for whom ICANN pays economy tickets and then they pay that amount again or twice that amount or three times that amount to upgrade themselves to business class. I think ICANN's policy should say that doesn't get done. If someone can afford that size of upgrade, they don't need the ICANN support.
I think that was sort of a summary, leaving out the specific details of what I put in my document a month or so ago.
Cheryl: Thank you, Alan. Particularly addressing this comment of mine from the chair to Kevin and to say I want to make real certain that of course what we're doing here in today's call is looking at the reality of real costs and making sure us as a community have greater responsibilities for ensuring that value returns are involved there. But we're also, as you can tell, more than willing to keep on the table a balanced discussion about I think things that would really be seen as heading us towards a win-win because we are looking about outcomes. Evan, go ahead, please.
Alan: Cheryl, could I have it back after that?
Cheryl: You may indeed. Evan, than back to Alan. Go ahead, Evan.
Evan: Hi. I just wanted to expand on what Alan was saying a little bit in that there might be certain things that might offer a little bit of help to the travelers without having to shell out. For instance in a lot of corridors, even going to Nairobi, there's a number of different airlines going and very often even the choice of an airline can make a big difference. If the issue is just to go with the cheapest possible airline, well, most flyers can't accumulate status so they can get lounge access or something like that. That's not something ICANN pays for out of pocket. But things like spending maybe a few more bucks to get the traveler's choice of airlines so that they can accumulate this. It doesn't cost ICANN a lot but makes a huge amount of difference for a traveler that's able to get status in a year and then they have a slightly more pleasant flight and very often the airlines will even do things like that economy plus for their valued travelers. It's small things. They don't cost a lot of money to ICANN but in the end result they can make a huge difference.
Cheryl: Point well made. Thank you. Back to you, Alan.
Alan: Yes. To enlarge just for a second on what Evan was saying, if you ask me what my part is, one of them is being able to check in in a business class line up without huge queues, especially in these days of added security. That I can do regardless of the cabin I'm booked in if we pick one of the right airlines. That makes a huge difference in my case for my survivability. One of the issues I didn't mention which is in the document is I find the situation quite offensive if a traveler is willing to spend an extra couple of days in the venue and save a significant amount of money to ICANN that ICANN has asked them to pay for the hotel because it's not during the meeting time. I'm quite offended by that, that ICANN would want to reap the benefit of a lower priced ticket but not be willing to pay part of that back to pay for the hotel and pay for the costs of the person when they're there. That bothers me significantly.
Cheryl: Okay. Thank you. Steve?
Steve: Yes. Here comes the king of controversy.
Cheryl: Hey, you said to expect none of that in this call, surely.
Steve: Yes. So, let me just say that I wear multiple hats in this response, one of which is as a person who does have to travel on Company business and does travel to different parts of the world. I am both empathic and deeply sympathetic to the plight of attempting to travel these days. Processing through airports is not remotely fun anymore. The glamour of business travel is long gone. The pictures we have in our head of the old days of Pan Am airlines, people wearing suits and dresses, sitting in what looks like lounges in the sky being served by cocktail waitresses is long gone. Business travel is not comfortable. It's unpleasant having to be strip searched now at airports has made the process worse, not better. I really am not not understanding any of that.
In the discussion that just took place, in my mind what I saw was the calculator just adding costs. I'll give some examples and explain what we've done in the past. So, one of the comments, I think it came from Evan, had to do with allowing travelers to chose their own airline in an effort to try and increase the number of miles or their status at some of these airlines, the more you travel with them, you move from silver to gold to platinum to elite to poobah. And all of that is in fact correct. Clearly if you focus your travels on one specific airline, you can clearly raise your status at that airline.
The challenge comes with the comment of just spending a few dollars more because I'm not sure what "a few dollars more" really means in drawing a line in the sand. We get requests regularly from stakeholder travelers, both from the At-Large community as well as the other communities and supporting organizations for "I'd rather travel on this airline than that airline" and we actually evaluate every one of those requests. We do not just automatically say "No". We look at each and every one of them. As long as it's determined that the difference between them is at least rationale and reasonable, there's a logical reason for doing it, we have actually granted those exceptions.
The challenge comes in what's reasonable? Is reasonable $100? Is reasonable $500? Is reasonable $1,000? We've seen requests where the difference between airline A, the lowest available fare, and airline B, the traveler's desired airline, the difference is $2,000. Do we just say "Yes" to that $2,000 difference so that traveler can accrue some additional miles? I wish I had a ready answer. Our current thinking is if you multiply that by the number of travelers, it starts to become really expensive. I just did some quick thinking. We moved a little over 100 stakeholders or travelers now to each meeting. If we were to raise the cost for each of those travelers by an all-in number of $500, which might include one extra night of hotel per person which is usually around $200 a night, plus additional airfare costs, raise it by $500 a person times 100 people. That's a $50,000 incremental increase to our cost. So, as an individual it sounds small. But if you add into it, it starts to become very, very large.
So, Alan's indicating he wants to travel on an airline that will treat you as a human being. When you find that airline, please let me know because as far as I'm concerning they're all not very good. Maybe some are worse than others but it really depends on the flight. I've had excellent flights on airline A and really poor flights on airline A. So, I hear what you're saying.
Evan: I'll comment when I get the microphone back.
Steve: Yes. Which will be very shortly. I hear what the comments are. I understand what they are. I think together as a team what we're trying to do is work towards a consensus or compromised solution. I don't think there is this fabulous win where everyone travels on whatever airline they want and ICANN just keeps paying for hotel rooms either days before or days after the meeting because at some point our bucket of money is not limitless. We are staring at real budget constraints and we have to somehow manage to those budgets.
Evan: Can I do a very quick follow-up to that?
Cheryl: Very brief.
Steve: I'm turning the microphone back to you, Cheryl. Thank you.
Cheryl: Thank you, Steve. A quick reply, although I must say I didn't take, as Alan didn't take Evan's comments to be simply a matter of accumulation of points.
Steve: Oh, heavens no.
Evan: I was basically following along with Alan that just a few things, I think what's made life a little easier is it doesn't even have to be on the same airline, that things have now coalesced into three monolithic groups of airlines. For instance, I'm going to Nairobi via Istanbul. It's not only the cheapest fare there, but it also happens to be part of Air Canada's group. I have no idea how well Turkish Airlines will treat me, but it's a long-term thing and it also happens to be the cheapest fare.
Cheryl: Thanks, Evan. I see James than Alan. Steve, if you could put your hand down, otherwise I'll assume you want it back again and I'll put you back in order that way.
James: This is James. Can everyone hear me?
Cheryl: Yes. Thank you, James. Go ahead.
James: I have a little question about a topic on travel which is there was a little discussion on line we talked about the fact that we could actually get a cheaper price elsewhere than ICANN actually booked. Case in point, the flight that I'm flying from Beijing to Seoul on the economy class is more expensive than the business class I can book on this airline already. I wonder if there's a process where we could actually save ICANN costs, save ICANN some money if we're able to find at a cheaper price?
Cheryl: Thank you, James. That's actually – it seems like such a simple question and I'm quite sure that Steve and Kevin are going to give us a more complicated answer than it deserves. ICANN has moved away from previous history where people were just organizing their own thing to something that is more accountable, more transparent, and more manageable. I see what you're saying, I agree with what you're saying and I think what we need to do in this call and in the near future is work out a way where it may not be individuals organizing the flight per say but if they know about something, being able to have the travel support team aware of it and leverage off local knowledge, but I'm second guessing them and I'm going to control myself and not second guess them much more. But James, I'll take that question and I'll respond to that. I see Tijani after Alan and I want to know is it Steve or Kevin who is going to respond to James?
Kevin: Steve is.
Steve: I can respond to James. Do you want me to wait until you've gone through the queue?
Cheryl: No. I think we'll have this as more of a conversation than a list of questions.
Steve: I'll answer this very quickly. James' point is very well taken. I can tell you that in certain markets it is actually less expensive to buy the ticket locally and it cannot actually be purchased for that lower fare by a travel agent or agency outside of that market. There's no question that that actually exists. The challenge we have as an organization is that it's extraordinarily difficult to manage when individuals are booking themselves through their own travel agencies.
For example, we have an obligation to report on the results of the stakeholder travel support for each meeting. We have now gotten it down to being able to post within 45 days. If we did not have some centralized system for booking at therefore getting reports, we wouldn't be able to post from month to month to month at a time because we actually wouldn't know. That was one of the problems in the past was the data gathering became exquisitely difficult to really understand. When Kevin and I took a long hard look at some of the comparators we saw, someone buying a ticket locally, for example in country X versus us being able to buy it from country Y and we saw, okay we would save this. But we're saving money through our centralized agency on this ticket over here. On balance, it comes out to be almost – the term we use is "a wash" which means it's almost cost neutral by doing it this way.
We then gain some benefits over being able to assist travelers, have access to itineraries, being able to report. If we went to individual travelers booking their own travel, we would then be processing reimbursement transactions which are expensive plus some of the other challenges we have. There have been times where it has made sense to allow the traveler to book locally and we have allowed those exceptions. So, if there is a compelling for having the traveler book locally, for example we had a traveler to the last meeting where the outbound airline which was a country based airline only allowed the purchase of tickets locally and we therefore allowed that person to purchase the ticket locally. They really couldn't have gotten – they would've had to drive to another country to fly which made no sense. So, we've certainly allowed it.
With that, Cheryl, I'll turn it back to you.
Cheryl: Thank you very much. And I do hope, Steve and Kevin, that you'll take a look at the chat that's going on as well. Obviously the audio recording is one important part of this, but so I don't have to go back as I do in some meeting and read into the record from the chat, there are side comments going on that I think are an enormously important part of the conversation. Alan, then to you, Tijani. And then James has his hand up again.
Alan: Okay. A couple very quick comments on what's been said before. Regarding the issue of being treated like a human being, no airline treats you really well, but in my case on one particular airline group, I happen to be their highest tier, partly thanks to ICANN and thanks to a whole bunch of other travel that I do at other people's expense. If I have irregular operations, weather, delayed flights, they will rebook me ahead of time, before I even ask. They will let me check in without waiting in an extremely long line up. Those are things which one gets and that makes me feel more like a human being instead of a piece of cargo. And so I use the term loosely but there really is a big difference depending on one's status within an airline. Ask Evan. It's nice to accumulate miles, but I'm not asking ICANN to pay for that. I'm talking about status because of the status you already have.
Evan: Cheryl, can I respond to both of those real quick?
Cheryl: Of course you may.
Kevin: This is Kevin. This will sound a little bit like a platitude but I totally understand what you're saying, Alan, and all these suggestions are really good, just leveraging off of Steve's point. The trick is if somebody said, "Is it good to be on your mileage program?" The answer is "Yes." If someone said, "It's good to be on this airline versus that airline," it's very easy to say "Yes." The challenge is the weighing factor. If it was $10 more, I think all of us would agree that would be an easy decision to make. If it's $2,000 more, probably everybody would agree that's an easy decision to make. It's the grey area and then the answer to the question, this also addresses the issue, I believe, that was made about finding local – if you have local knowledge advantage, perceived or not, apparent or real, the way we've handled it thus far is through the exception process.
To the extent that you get assigned a seat and you'd like to make and exception, you've found a less expensive way to do it or a more convenient way to do it that's not too expensive, then all you need to do is request an exception and Steve and I discuss those and when they get more complicated we discuss them with the traveler or with other people in the community or staff and it seems like that's working. It's a little time consuming and administratively burdensome but I think that's the escape valve right now, we have this exception process and I recommend we do that other than – although the travel guidelines would be out for public comment, we would post that as part of the – we'll talk about that in a minute on the process for developing FY11's travel guidelines. But the idea right now in the FY10 ones is use the exception process. Anyway, just to hammer that point. I'd like to strengthen that process, make sure that people are aware of it, make sure they know how it works, as a suggestion. Okay? Thank you.
Cheryl: Thank you. In fact, I believe those points are very well made and very much the purpose of this call is to explore those points and assist, as you've got here, Kevin, in today's call, regional leadership from all of your global geographic regions. It's things leaders who will be empowered and in a position to make sure that the trickle down effect happens to the edge travelers and to ensure that the regional and At-Large structure discussions about these issues and in terms of returning comments into normal ICANN processes on travel support and policies. It becomes more productive and less iterative which is where I think it is at the moment. And at the same time ensure that the reporting, the accountability, and the transparency that we all desire is happening.
Alan, did you have your hand up for a rebuttal?
Alan: Yes. I only got the first one out before we went to answers.
Cheryl: Go ahead.
Alan: There was an answer a few minutes ago that I cannot pay for extra days in the hotel, per diems before and after. Let me be clear about what I was saying. For example, if we can save $1,000 in airfare by coming two days early and there are costs associated with that of $500 to house the person and feed them, I believe that $500 is a reasonable expense for ICANN to pay. They're still coming out $500 ahead. I think telling the person that, "Well, you don't have any meetings, therefore it's on your dime," when ICANN is saving $1,000, if the net difference is to ICANN's advantage, ICANN should pay for those days. That's what I was saying, not ask for vacation days.
Regarding return on investment, I think we strongly support that. Part of what we need to talk about is what do we do for people who are not using the travel money effectively. And there are cases, we have some cases, where people are in fact going to other meetings and not ours and yet we're paying for them. We think that's wrong and shouldn't happen. If we're in a position where people are coming to our – or being paid for by us, they should be putting work in at the meetings and if not, we don't want you to give them money. We want to make sure there's a good return on investment. And as I mentioned, there are cases I believe where ICANN is funding travel where it is clear that the travel funding is not needed and ICANN should save that money and use it to good effect.
Lastly, on the issue of buying tickets, one of the answers was but in the past it's taken six months for ICANN to figure out what the costs were for any given meeting. I think that using that particular example is quite inappropriate. In the past, if the traveler got their travel expense in the day after a meeting, it would still take four or six months for ICANN to pay it. If you look at the current meeting for Nairobi, many people will be having to get reimbursements if only for Visa costs. And if ICANN is now in a position to actually pay those travel expenses quickly, I don't think we're looking at six months to figure out how to reconcile a given traveler. In the past that was largely due to ICANN's own accounting problems.
Steve: I have a quick response to that. There's no doubt that that is true, Alan. In the past we were very slow in our reimbursement process. Since Kevin's arrival that has dramatically improved. Our challenge is that we are still getting expense reimbursements for Sydney. And that's for the few people that spent their own money.
Alan: We can talk offline about how one fixes that. But just using the global comparison of the old situation I don't think is far because it's not clear how much of it was whose problem. Okay. I'll be quiet for awhile.
Cheryl: Thank you. Tijani, the floor is yours. Dial seven to unmute. Gisella, can we check why Tijani isn't being heard?
Cheryl: Thank you. While we're fixing the audio with Tijani, I'll move to James. James, go ahead.
James: Yes. I'd like to respond to Steve's statement. I have a suggestion for ICANN, that local travel agents probably have better access to pricing than an agent that's overseas. This doesn't happen somethings, most of the time. I would like to make a recommendation to ICANN that perhaps ICANN could place several more official travel agents around the globe rather than one. For instance, you could have one in Hong Kong for Asia, another one in Australia, another one in Europe, and one in the US, and one in South America, just for instance, where he has the same dealing with the relationship and I can get the best price from six quotes rather than one travel agent.
Cheryl: Thank you, James. Steve, I'm not asking you to defend particular business choices and contractual relationships but I do think we may as well have put on the table possibilities of future buying power and various things that I'm sure you'll want to share in response to James' points. And then hopefully Adigo will have unmuted Tijani and we'll go back to Africa.
Steve: I can comment quickly, Cheryl, to say that the current vendor actually has operations in about 90 countries although not all and they attempt to leverage those location from time to time while purchasing tickets for travelers. One of the challenges we have is when we purchase these tickets, we're purchasing them on a centralized credit and setting that up with multiple travel agencies would mean we'd lose control of that credit card which would be a big problem for the organization. So, we've been very judicious in balancing the ability to use travel agencies in other parts of the world versus having some measure of control over access to this centralized credit card that gets used to book travel.
Cheryl: Certainly something that we will want as a community to hear is under continuous review as well, particularly putting on my Asia-Pacific hat to just say the fact that we're often getting things on weekends with three or four day return times because we happen to be ahead does make it annoying. So, some of these are very simple tweaks which may make us all feel we are not necessarily and it is a sensitive topic, but just live with it, Kevin and Steve, totally US-centric. Out here in Asia-Pacific, we would like to think that there is an intention to make sure that the global view is always up front. It's very easy because of time zones and because of where major offices are located, to feel that ICANN isn't thinking globally. I think it's very much an important role and something that the community interfaces with ICANN so much on, like travel, needs to be very certain that it has its PR aspect of becoming a more and more obvious and real global organization up there. You know, wear the t-shirts, get the coffee cups, whatever it takes. Tijani, you are unmuted and now the floor is yours.
Tijani: Do you hear me now?
Cheryl: Yes. Thank you, Tijani.
Tijani: Okay. Thank you, Cheryl. So, today ICANN is very severe on the arrival date and the departure date, means that accommodation. And they don't care if this will induce a high increase of the airfare. I think that ICANN has to consider the airfare and accommodation together and in my case, for Nairobi, it happened. And now ICANN will pay a high airfare because they didn't want to pay one night more.
Cheryl: Tijani, I will ask whether Kevin or Steve are able to respond. I think some of what we're going to be saying tonight though is a mismatch if you'll forgive me for using that word of our expectations as part of community and what is possible. So it may have very well been that we can in fact have made under exceptions a request to ICANN to change those leading and arrival dates and go for a cheaper fare, but either the traveler didn't know how to make that approach to community travel support or something else went wrong. Part of what we're doing today is getting all of these issues out and finding ways that we can in mutual discussions perhaps work towards making sure they're minimized in the future. Hopefully I haven't said everything you're going to say but Kevin or Steve, who would like to respond to Tijani?
Steve: I guess I'll jump in.
Cheryl: Go for it.
Steve: I don't disagree with what's being said here. The challenge that we've got is once again balancing the budget somehow which is to say, "So, someone can save $150 by coming a day early, but coming a day early, the hotel is $200." So, it actually costs ICANN $50. So, what should we do in that situation? I don't have a quick and ready answer. A different example, we can save $700 by taking a different airfare so the person could then come two days early and stay a day late and that would eat up $600 of the $700 of airfare. If one could save $1500 and I'm still using the $200 a night example and they're not always $200 a night, then one could stay another seven or eight days. Now suddenly we're in the business of booking travel for times that are well outside the ICANN meeting. Who's responsibility for ensuring there's a hotel room five days before the meeting or five days after the meeting? Is that ICANN's responsibility then because we're blocking rooms with these hotels for the meeting, not for days before the meeting and days after the meeting, but for the meeting. We would then truly become a full service travel agency at this point in time. Right now we're not equipped to do that. Maybe we should be but we're not.
Cheryl: Okay. I must say, having had the circumstances from personal experience, it is something that ICANN is going to have to continually try to sell to us. If there is not an actual increase in cost to ICANN, those examples you used did tend to have an increase in cost to ICANN, and I think the examples Alan and certainly the ones I've personally experienced would not be any net increase in costs which is taking us, as we do need to get to very quickly, to looking at the costs and looking how those costs are going to be continually available, how public they are, and how as a community we need to start making sure that everyone is getting bang for their investment, in other words that we're getting return on investment tools that as a community we are planning to develop for our own accountability; however, we've got a couple of questions which I noted in the chat. Sylvia, are you able to – are you dialed into Adigo? Do you wish to read or speak to your question? I think it's an important question to raise.
Sylvia: Okay. Can you hear me?
Cheryl: Very, very faint, Sylvia.
Sylvia: Okay. Well, I know we've not talking about this point now, but we are indeed worried about the GAC because we understand that the DoC must be an independent committee. So, we'd like to know why they are receiving travel support for these members? What is the idea? Why are you doing that?
Cheryl: Sylvia, I might just repeat for the audio transcript, Sylvia's question goes to the heart of independence of sponsored or supported travelers and the example she is using, being raised from Latin America and the Caribbean is how we're – ICANN support of GAC travelers down there influence as they have to be in their opinion, and independent advisory committee. I think perhaps that's something that may better go to Kevin than to Steve, but tell me if I'm wrong. Thank you, Sylvia. Kevin, are you willing to grab that one by both horns or take it on notice? Have we lost Kevin?
Kevin: You have actually. I'm sorry. I got disconnected. I apologize.
Cheryl: I was going to say it would be rather sad if we lost you seeing as we're looking at your screen. If you start doing your e-mails because you're bored, we'll all share.
Kevin: I'm very sorry. I got disconnected. So, can you repeat the question?
Cheryl: I can. It's in full form in the chat if you get back into the Adobe room. The question went to independence of ICANN sponsored travelers and Latin America and Caribbean question was particularly about sponsoring of GAC travelers and how the independence of GAC is maintained when some of their travel is funded?
Sylvia: That's right.
Kevin: I think the question is what – kind of goes to the core of why do we have travel support overall. And there's three core principals that guide the travel guidelines. The first is to get the work of ICANN done and so anything – that's the reason why they originally developed the travel guidelines was to say we need to get certain people at the meetings or to support them so that we can get the policy work of ICANN done. The second is support – I hesitate to use the word "hardship" but hardship support. Put that in quotes, basically for those countries or those individuals who could not afford to go otherwise, we provide support for those people. The fellows are perhaps a good example of that. The third one, which the fellows is a really good example of that, is outreach.
So, to the extent that people might not join – come into the ICANN tent and join the process, there's an outreach attempt to do that. I would say that the GAC support which is a new support this past year is really a function probably of all three of those but certainly the perception is that the six for the GAC – in fact, it was at one point to discuss that perhaps the GAC support would follow the fellowship rules, even the fellowship process so that we address it more on a needs basis than anything else. And then the issue about independence, it's a really good point but it's also true with any group, any time we're supporting any of the groups then there's always a concern about independence. So, we just have to be careful on full disclosure and rely on accountability and transparency as our overall watchdog on independence.
Cheryl: Thank you. It's almost a perfect segue to us moving to the next part of our agenda. Sylvia, yes, I can answer you that question. We certainly will know which countries receive travel support in each meeting. There is quite extensive reporting. Kevin is going to share with us some of the gory details and I suggested he uses me as an example because I maintain that I can get more than its money worth out of me even though I'm horrendously expensive as of course I believe I should be. I don't mean as a cost to ICANN but simply I'm worth it regardless of what I do and where I do it.
We do of course also have – while Kevin's taking us to the dashboard and giggling, I noticed, we have a couple of questions that have come into the chat and they're, I think, involving very important issues. But we'll move to those immediately after the dashboard. It also is going to be ten minutes to the hour. I will, at the hour, access whether we need to agree on an extension of time for this meeting. We have a 60 minute meeting planned with a 30 minute possible extension. So, if you start looking at your requirements at now the seven to ten minute mark, we'll access whether we need to extend some 10, 15, 20, or perhaps to the full 30 minutes then. Thank you, Kevin. Oh, I do like pretty colors. But you might have to zoom in some we can see the gory details more clearly.
Kevin: Okay. Great. Thank you. Let's see if I can – I don't know if that's going to help. Can you read okay? I think the main reason I'm doing this is not to show you a specific number on our dashboard. It's just to make sure everybody is aware on the call of our progress to date on accountability and transparency in the finance function to show our financials in quite a bit of detail. We've made a lot of progress on this over the last few years. We'll continue to make progress based on feedback we receive from the community and board and good ideas from staff to do that.
This is really just to highlight that on the dashboard there's a whole finance section which shows our audited financials. Actually down here is FY09, the last audited financials. That's what those are right there. I don't know how fast that's refreshing on your screen. We also show reporting in various views. The affectionately called EAG reporting, showing up by ASO, GNSO, and supporting activities, CCNSO, et cetera. And also there's the functional reporting many of you in the community have expressed a strong desire to know how is ICANN spending its money by its major projects, a new GTLD, IDN, et cetera. So, that's just a real quick few of what's on the dashboard. Let's see if I can come back up to the home page.
Cheryl: Thanks, Kevin. While you're moving through the pages, this is a part of what is out there and what is already available for community and public access in the way transparency has been set up. I'm very excited about it. I actually think many of our community members are unaware of it all being there which is very much part of the purpose of this call.
Kevin: Good. What I'm trying to walk you through, I don't know how successful this is by pointing my mouse on how it is.
Kevin: But the point is it's much more accessible. Could it be even more accessible? I think we all agree it could be. But I wanted to show you that all the financial information is now in one place on the website under documents and under financial information and then for example here you can see we've been talking about travel support guidelines. There's a lot of other information available, but under ICANN's travel information, that's under here and then I'm looking under the general financial information travel support and let's see if I can do this. It's a little bit hard to read on my screen because it's very big. But if you look here, I think Steve and others were mentioning, here's the travel support for the Sydney meeting. I'm going to just – the Seoul meeting is right there. Let's just look at the –
Cheryl: Sydney, I'm cheap into Sydney. Take that example. I'm happy to have my costs to ICANN picked over in fine detail.
Kevin: You want me to do Seoul or Sydney?
Cheryl: Yes. Do Seoul. Or Mexico. Or Cairo. Somewhere my real value, my real cost to you is seen.
Kevin: Actually I do need to take – okay. I'll take Mexico City. Unfortunately you won't see the GAC on this own. Actually, Cheryl, I think I want to do Sydney because it's a good example. It shows you from an example standpoint and we'll update this shortly. But you can see here by stakeholder constituency group, each of the categories as they are. This is actually one large .PDF so you can roll down page by page. Or if you prefer you can just go straight to ALF (ph) for example and you can see all the 25 folks that were supporting and then you can see how much they are for airfare, hotel, per diem, other total, and then a measure of how much full support equivalence because not everybody is fully supported. If I go back, I'm going to go to GAC. There was a question about how much is in the GAC. You can see here we have 3,700 in the Sydney meeting. Those are the folks by their point there. I think we might be able to beef this up a bit by showing the countries that they're supporting from. You probably, if you know these folks, you know which countries they're coming from.
Cheryl: I think as part of our future, where definitely more and more parts of the community both within ICANN and in the general internet ecosystem are going to be looking at these things. Having the country listed so that we can – indeed you might even want to put the metric on how that country is currently classed because I think there's strong argument in all our hearts and minds for less developed economies to being far more rigorously supported than others and not having to rely on do we know who that person's name is and perhaps having to Google them to find out where they come from would be very useful. Alan, you have a question to the current demonstration?
Alan: I have a question regarding the Sydney number. Kevin, under airfare is that really the airfare or is it something else? Serious? The number showing for me is about 20% higher than the invoice plus the travel agent fee that I was told about. So, I'm curious. Is it really just the airfare? Or is something else lumped into there that I don't see?
Kevin: On the call, defense mechanism kicks in, and I see it as heavily footnoted in small print and I know, Alan, you will send us an e-mail right after this call and let us know the details so that we can either correct the report on the website or correct you which we'll probably enjoy more.
Alan: I wasn't trying to show you up. I just wanted to make sure that I knew what it's supposed to be so I can send the e-mail if necessary.
Kevin: I think Steve alluded there's a lot of data, we've spent a lot of effort to get it this far. Could we do better? I think I'd be the first on to say, "Yes, we could."
Alan: I think your answer is it is what you paid the travel agent for the airfare.
Kevin: That's our intention. As you can see, there's a lot of little red asterisks. We do make estimates when the data comes in. You can't figure out the name on the American Express bill or there's various things like that that happen.
Alan: I wasn't really trying to embarrass you. When I try to do that, you'll really know it.
Kevin: Thank you. So, hopefully that's helpful. I'm going to show you a couple other things on this page that will be really helpful I think. That kind of helps me lead to jump on my soapbox if I could, Cheryl, for just a minute which is –
Cheryl: Sure. Then I say Evan immediately after your demonstration. You'll need to feel good about yourself.
Kevin: Good. I'm not sure – does that mean I'm an easy act to follow? Anyway, the community travel support, the travel support guidelines are here. You can see we've had one for each year. There will be another one for FY11 inserted up there that we'll be drafting in the next few weeks. We obviously want your active input into that. The travel summary, Steve is the owner of those. Those go out to the individual travelers to explain how to prepare and how to – it's basically implementation for each meeting from the travel support guidelines. And as we mentioned, the travel reports are the items that need to be posted for each meeting. Okay?
Cheryl: Thank you. Evan?
Evan: I'm just going to read the one that I posted in the chat. I'm a little concerned about the fact that names are named specifically in who received what for this. I understand the need to be transparent in the numbers. But there's a lot of areas where ICANN spends money on people and doesn't name names, that things are provided in aggregate and things like that, such as staff salaries and so on. Is it possible to do this in such a way where you identify things maybe by region or you identify people by either initials or something that gives a little bit – that gives the transparency you need without having to allow people to point and say, "Well, so and so got more than others." I'm just a little concerned about that. There's issues of privacy to be balanced against the transparency. You recognize that in some areas such as not posting staff salaries by name. Why not be consistent?
Kevin: I appreciate that. And I think you should make that clear in your feedback. This is our best attempt at reflecting what the community and the feedback we've received in general has been overwhelmingly the other way, but I appreciate your comment. Also, as far as staff, we're actually now in the process of actually posting travel costs. Not necessarily salaries, but obviously on the 9090, I think 20 staff are actually – compensation is posted. You raise an interesting question that we discussing internally as well. But as far as – in fact Rod and Doug and the executive team have asked me to actually post staff travel costs as well so that we can identify those, be as open and transparent as possible. But your privacy concerns are very valid.
Steve: Kevin, those are staff travel costs in total, not just ICANN meetings, I assume?
Kevin: What are you talking about? The ones we're preparing for?
Steve: You said posting staff travel costs.
Kevin: We'll show that by meeting, by trip. A lot of different ways. We're working on that internally now. I mean, who knows? After we finalize those reports, I think the thought is, "Hey, maybe we should – " just like addressing Evan's point. We should be fully open and transparent. But that's a decision above my salary grade.
Evan: I'll give you one specific example. There's one person in our region that flies in and lives in the Arctic who has costs probably significantly more than other people that they live near hubs. I don't want to have a situation which outsiders are pointing fingers on whether or not somebody should travel or not based on where they live.
Cheryl: At that point, I think we need to be very aware and as a community very proactive to ensure that what use is made of these tools which are put up for the sake of transparency, that that doesn't become a problem to us as well. I would hate to think that regions were going to be appointing their ILEC personnel, their representatives to the ILEC based on whether or not they're close to a hub so that ICANN can actually afford to support them in their travel. That's where we need to have the balancing act. I think it's a very important point raised. Thanks for that, Evan.
Kevin: I think to leverage that I think I'd like to initiate that as a key improvement on the travel support guidelines is exactly what the reporting is. Right now we just say we report on it. But actually put that in the draft guidelines. That way we can get good community feedback and have the dialogue at the community level, not staff level.
Cheryl: It is in fact the green fields, the new countries, I mean literally the At-Large structures or countries in terms of other GAC or At-Large community issues that are going to inevitably have higher costs until the travel network that we're utilizing changes. If you're near a hub, it's simply easier and cheaper and if we get a penny pinching CFO in your seat, Kevin, you're not particularly a penny pitching one – be used as a tool to say this whole community input stuff is far too damned expensive, so we'll have to cut that out. We need to I think very much in that preparation of guidelines and expectations by the community.
Kevin: Which goes to your ROI concept. We can't go to a full ROI concept because then we won't support anyone. But if we just keep that in mind, I think we're on the same page with that. Thanks, Evan and Cheryl.
Cheryl: Lovely to hear. Now at four minutes past the hour which is approximately an hour into our call, we have I think moving to probably, Kevin, the next steps in the agenda. Can I ask that as we've already looked over a few of the later agenda items as we've had our discussion , can I ask that we have at this stage, 15 minute extension which will be to 20 past the hour? Hopefully we'll be finishing the call then. Anyone who can't continue to join us, obviously, the Adobe room will be available and all the notes and transcripts will be listed on our meeting Wiki. Evan, you've got your hand up again or still?
Evan: No. This is in relation to – if we're changing, this is related to what I'd asked earlier.
Cheryl: Yes? Certainly?
Evan: Okay. So, there's a question that relates that a lot of people have asked about, especially given the trip to Nairobi. It has to do with issues of security as a cost matter. There have been a lot of concerns about things like airport transfers, hotel shuttles, things like that. They're not per say a constituent issue because they probably apply to everybody who's going to be there but there have been conflicting reports about what ICANN and the hosts are not prepared to cover. I've heard privately from people who are really thinking twice about wanting to go and I wanted to get your input on this. This is not something that is a function of who gets compensated. This is a function of ICANN's policy of choosing to locate in cities that create additional problems. I don't know if that's something that gets borne out of the cost issues related to constituents but it's still important nonetheless, at least to me.
Cheryl: I think there's also the point there raised that some thing's generic cost to a meeting and it would be interesting to see whether or not they end up in future reporting to be shared equally or otherwise across the community based cost reporting. Just before I suggest, you may want to have a response to that, Kevin, but Wolf from Europe has another meeting he needs to go to. And on the next agenda item which is looking at regional outreach and the very important area for expanding our ability to reach into the community and to find out what the community needs are in a way that we have proactive planning for future budgets, et cetera, Wolf, if you'd like to speak to some of the outreach activates that you would like to be involved in.
Wolf: Yes. Thanks a lot, Cheryl, for giving me the floor. Actually for the European region At-Large organization we only three outreach activities planned for the coming year which are foreseeable already. The first one is the ICANN student (ph) prize meeting which is for the end of January, 22 and 23 in Barcelona. This is an outreach event which is repeatedly organized by world client vendors in years and which is basically as far as I know auto financed by the organizers due to a couple of sponsors from Europe.
So, the second one is planned RALO channel assembly during the ICANN meeting for efforts. This would be in my eyes cost relevant for the ICANN travel department because it would mean to important our ALS, the meeting to process, and Zeltbahn (ph) is the next European dialogue on internet governance which is foreseen for Summer 2010 in Madrid. I do not know the exact dates now but this was something which was paid from our own pocket so far but as it's the most relevant outreach activities of the RALO. I think it would be justified that support for community members should be considered by ICANN in the future.
Cheryl: Thank you very much for that, Wolf. And thank you, everyone, for allowing me to shuffle things around so that Wolf can now leave to hopefully a non-volunteer activity because he seems to spend a huge amount of his life doing volunteer activities, predominantly for the benefit of ICANN and our processes. So, thank you. One of the things raised out of that, Kevin, and I'm referring to this because it comes at sort of the macro planning level. Obviously it would have trickle down effects to the community should these activities become part of budget planned expenses in the future. But you're going to find continuous, particularly as a result from the outcomes of the ILEC review.
You're going to get more and more desire by the regions to be involved in what could be considered local, either regionally or in country activities. So that each of the ILSs and the regional structures are doing what it is they're mandated to do. One way that RALO has approached something that as you can see in the chat we're encouraging the other regions to now look at as well is to have some advanced planning and be able to see as a community what we can put forward as part of our future budget planning for activities that might be identified, that need to get some ICANN or potential ICANN travel support.
It's certainly something we need to move from a reactive make a request and find that the glass is less than half empty and certainly not half full system to a proactive what do we want to be doing in 2014 and that gives everybody the type of approach that we're all after. I'm going to move back to this topic in a little moment but Alan has a follow on question from Evan's point. Kevin needs to respond both to Evan's point and indeed probably to Alan and then I see Sebastian. Go ahead, Alan.
Alan: Okay. Evan was making comments about security issues in general. As he pointed out, they apply to all people, not just funded ones. The funded ones are in a particularly interesting position however. I'll be very specific. One of the questions we asked and many people have asked is "Is ICANN providing transport from the airport to the hotel on arrival?" A simple yes-no answer would be nice. I've arrived at the Nairobi airport late at night and not had a driver waiting for me. It's not something I really want to do again in my lifetime. If you're a normal traveler, a normal person coming on business or vacation, it's simple. If you don't know someone that you know your tour or whatever is going to provide, transportation, you call up your hotel and say, "Please, send a car." The hotel charges you and that's fine. At this point, we might not know what hotel we're in until the day before we get on the plane. Very often if you tell them too late, they say, "Sorry, no more cars."
We really need to have some precision as to what is going to be provided in terms of airport to hotel transport and an ongoing transport between the hotel and the meeting venue on a regular basis. It is unreasonable to ask people to travel halfway around the world without knowing those details and knowing whether they're going to be able to afford, for example, the taxis that will be necessary between the venue and the hotels on an ongoing basis. I understand why you don't want to reveal all your security secrets in public, but these are not particularly onerous and are not likely to generate terrorist problems by telling us is there going to be a car or not.
Kevin: You have to unravel the decoder ring before you can find that out, Alan. It's a reasonable question. I don't have the answer. Steve, do you know? I can make a guess.
Steve: I can only share what I know which is probably not the full information. What I understand is that the problem at the Nairobi airport is there are rogue taxis and then there are licensed taxis and if you take a licensed taxi you are fine. If you take a rogue taxi you are not. So, what's being done is there are two – they're calling them ICANN desks that are being set up. One is inside of immigration to help people get through the immigration process and the other one is on the other side of immigration to direct people to where the licensed taxis are to ensure that they take licensed taxis to the hotel from the airport. The hotels will ensure that you take licensed taxis on the reverse trip. But that is my understanding about what's being done to assist travelers in taking appropriate transportation from the airport to the hotel.
Alan: I trust that will be more than someone sitting at a desk. I trust that there will be someone at the licensed taxi stand and that if somebody needs to negotiate the fare ahead of time, if it's not prepaid, that provision will be made for that too. I also have gotten out of a taxi and been told the fare was four times what I was told at the beginning.
Steve: I will pass that along to the folks that are making all the arrangements. I'm not there, obviously.
Alan: There are people who have traveled to these parts of the world before and we do have some concerns for very valid reasons.
Kevin: The travel websites have all said that all the taxis there do not have meters. Everything is pre-negotiated.
Cheryl: Important points and thank you, Steve, for taking those on and passing them to the powers that be. I think what would be interesting in a future travel guideline is to have not just the Thou Shalts from what we're all going to do but have some of these questions which I'm sure will come up again and again and again, answered, because we do have some idea for any given financial year where the meetings are going to be. I'm sure we can perhaps cut off some of these very valid concerns that continue to be real issues for many travelers and potential travelers far too close to the actual travel date and meeting. I suspect, Kevin, that's possibly something you'll want to consider with the new travel guidelines.
Alan: Cheryl, as a follow on, it would be really nice if when we find out our hotels, hopefully soon, that we are also given the details of how to arrange transport with that hotel. Someone waiting with a car and with my name on a sign is a different situation than go out and only take a black taxi.
Cheryl: Good points. I'm not sure that we need a response to them unless Kevin's desperate to say something. If you are, Kevin, say so now.
Kevin: No. I'm good.
Cheryl: Then Sebastian, the floor is yours.
Sebastian: Thank you. I would like to make one suggestion and that is it could be good to have people sharing the taxi in one way and the other way. When you arrive at the airport, usually you find some colleagues at the airport and you can share any type of transportation but if the desk at the airport could help, that would be great. I guess it's not just a question of money, it's also a question of behavior. And I really think that it could be done the same at the reverse. I have to say that I hate when you've got ten people from ICANN waiting or taking a cab not knowing that five minutes after there will be other people and they can share the cab. We need to be responsible for that too and once again it's not just a question of money. The other point is that I feel all this organization of transportation and money spent for the meeting, we are missing one important point.
The structure of At-Large is in fact between ILS, national organization, with ICANN to create a regional At-Large structure. It's not any more in the budget that they're meeting that structure, physical meetings of that structure. It feels to me strange because the reason why there are ILSs and ILEC is because there are those RALOs. And they're the ones who have contract and here we can say contracted party even if it's not the same type of contract and the registrar or registry. But here ICANN has a contract and I think we need to think about that and see how we really allow the structure to function well. One way, it's to ask at least I will say one every two years, maybe it could be one every three years, let's discuss about that physical meeting of the members of those RALOs who wish to participate. Thank you very much.
Cheryl: Thank you, Sebastian. That does lead us almost perfectly to the agenda item that I shuffled RALO to the top of the list and that is we have asked that each of the regional leaders on this call come prepared to discuss planning of At-Large regional meetings and outreach activities. Kevin, I'm sure you're hearing the cash register ding back there in the grey matter behind your left ear. Yes. This is going to be a future cost.
As Sebastian has pointed out, it is very much a cost that is integral to the purpose of what we as part of the ICANN community is supposed to do and I think fits very well with the desires outlined in the AOC to have the internet end user more involved. We don't want to see this as a discussion of we'd like to do this, can you fund it rather more is this the type of planning, preplanning discussion that having with someone in your position now looking at future budgets and involving travel support because if all these things happen they might need five times the staff. I don't know. Can we start having a proper head's up and proactive piece of discussion planning before we move into comments the next financial year or the next financial year after that. What I'm going to do, if you don't mind, is have a quick round robin through the regions.
I'm going to start with AFRALO mainly because it's alphabetical but more importantly because it's a perfect example where we're going through an enormous amount of additional work at the community level all because we have a meeting in Nairobi, an opportunity for outreach and development within Africa while we're all there and the planning didn't happen in the right financial year's preparation so there is no funding and ability from ICANN to make what the region would like to happen, happen. If Tijani, can we make sure he's off mute? Tijani? I'm giving you the floor now to just generally discuss but obviously mention in short form some of the ways that future planning would make regional outreach and development so much easier and the rationale behind it.
Tijani: Yes? You hear me?
Cheryl: Go ahead, thank you, Tijani.
Tijani: You hear me?
Cheryl: Yes. Thank you.
Tijani: Very good. Thank you, Cheryl. So, actually it's sad that we in AFRALO, we wanted to organize in Nairobi since the meeting is in an African land. We wanted to organize an outreach program for the ALS representatives, African ALS representatives because the African ILSs didn't participate in the ICANN process and when we tried to see why, we found that they didn't have the basic knowledge and basic information about ICANN programs and ICANN activities. When we tried to find the founding from ICANN to organize this event, it was impossible. Everybody say, "No, it is not in the budget."
Now we are trying to find other sponsors to implement this project and we are really – if you want, we have a big challenge. We want it to be organized and we're not sure that it will be because we don't – we're not sure of the funding sources. So, if you want, I think that the regional organizations need from time to time and for certain reasons to organize regional events and it will be best when the regional events are organized together with ICANN meetings like the meeting in Nairobi. So, I think for the next strategic plan and next financial plan, we have to foresee, to plan some of those activities, regional activities that are in line with the main objectives of ICANN.
Cheryl: Thank you, Tijani. Kevin, I hope what you're hearing is music to your ears, not a clashing cacophony of drums, because what I'm going to actually merge a couple of the agenda items, what specifically we're talking about comes out of our At-Large improvements process. So, just like GNSO improvements had consequences, our review has come out with implementation recommendations that have now been approved by the board and they have consequences too. So, what we're doing now at this pointing our meeting is bring everyone's minds forward to items under what we've had listed into different sections of implementation in our plan and that's for those that have been in the At-Large community, tasks under number six.
The particular ones are we're looking at planning for meetings to ensure that At-Large representatives are provided equal treatment to other funded communities with respect to accommodations, getting back into community travel support areas, and also where we can be better involved in future financial planning and budget planning, but also in terms of education and engaging ILSs. So, we've got recommendations that look at our role in ICANN, the structures, how we're to strengthen the ILS and RALO structures, how we're to outreach and educate our ILSs and make sure that ICANN is getting end user input that it needs and has to have as well as make sure that what we're doing is better managed, better planned, and far less conflict than it is now. So, with that rational following on from Tijani's very perfect example with Nairobi and where you can see, Kevin, that what the regions are wanting to do is leverage off gatherings that are already happening. I'll move to Asia-Pacific and if Vivek is still on, if he is, is he muted?
Gisella: He's not on.
Cheryl: I'm looking for James. Has James left us as well? He may have had to leave. Okay. I have to switch hats then. I'm now talking from an Asia-Pacific representative role. The issue in Asia-Pacific because we have a huge amount of outreach if we are to have at least hit our own aim of an At-Large structure in each country, Asia-Pacific with its massive numbers of countries within each region has a long way to go and therefore a lot of education and outreach. We're also representative of the billion and billion after that who are going to be coming on to the internet.
So, we see Asia-Pacific as a very important focus for ICANN outreach and planning and expenditure to go on. What Asia-Pacific as a regional organization has been doing for the last couple of years, when opportunities for APSTAR, APRICOT, APNIC type meeting, in other words, things that other parts of the organization structures in the system, whenever they are gathering together, we find an opportunity if any one of our members is going – therefore there is no cost to ICANN, to present and to do outreach and to try and encourage At-Large structures to develop in some of our under utilized countries in the region. These activities are going on and bringing benefit to ICANN quite directly. We found, for example, a number of fellowship applications come in from Asia-Pacific as a result of this type of outreach and while we're talking about return on investment, what Asia-Pacific wants to bring forward is that whilst we in At-Large and in AP RALO know about this, there's no way for ICANN to realize how much work we're doing on your behalf.
Now, I should say on our behalf, but I think you know where I'm coming from here, Kevin. So, again, we have a place and space where the reporting that is going to be done as a result of our own At-Large improvements planning process and (inaudible) process also has some transparency in reporting so ICANN can see what additional activities and outreach and opportunities there are. We might also find, for example, global partnerships may have a plan to focus in a particular part of Asia which I gather they will be doing.
We have At-Large structures with members on the ground who can make the necessary invitations, introductions, some of the more tricky parts of getting to see the right person at the right time. In a number of our countries you've got to visit three or four times before we let you in the door, to short circuit some of the other real expenses that ICANN will be going through. So, we developed some partnership models and that's very much where Asia-Pacific would be saying – what Vivek would be saying if he'd managed to stay on the call. So, I'll now move – let me – where am I?
Kevin: So, Cheryl, I have a –
Cheryl: You didn't put your hand up. How can I possibly recognize you?
Kevin: I'm not very good at following the rules, am I? I just tell people to follow them. Where am I? I have a response if I can figure out how to do this. Is that how you do it? I have a response but I'm out of time. I'm wondering if Heidi and I can draft something and just the 30 second version of it is there is a process. We'd like to strengthen that process, make it better and better and get these good ideas influencing the operating plan and budget so that it reflects our – I'm going to use "our" not "your" – our collective wisdom to our collective benefit.
Cheryl: Excellent. To be honest, Kevin, if we've got no further than agreeing on that, we're going to be very happy with today's call. I think this is the first step in a number of processes and one of the things I'd like to do is have as a result of this call each of the regions in the following monthly meetings discuss this matter and get back slightly formally I think via perhaps Matthias and Heidi and yourself and some of the ILEC with at least one representative from each region having some follow-up discussion. Is that suitable for you, Kevin?
Kevin: That sounds great. I think the best way to do this is for us to work through Heidi so she coordinates with all of you most effectively.
Cheryl: That's perfect. Because what we want is for you to get a whole lot more input from us but we also want to make sure what we're asking our regions and our At-Large structures to do is reasonable. Doing all the planning and then getting disappointed is never a good way of engaging volunteers.
Kevin: That's what I would say. I would call it efficiencies. We want to make sure you're focusing your energy on things you can actually have an impact on.
Cheryl: Indeed. Indeed. So, thank you all very, very much for I think a very productive meeting. It's going to be something that we will continue to work on. And yesterday's, I'm sure we'll eventually get the go for gold. Thank you, all. And good morning, good evening, or good night.
Kevin: Thank you.