This year, ICANN has budgeted £7.68 ($12.48 million USD) out of its £33.46 ($54.37 million USD) budget for travel. For an organization that holds only three international meetings a year, this seems like quite a bit. Bloggers are suggesting that ICANN does not need this sort of travel budget and can use alternatives like email and teleconferencing to handle their international communication needs.
Brad White, ICANN’s director of media affairs, defended the spending:
We deliberately go to a different continent every meeting, because the Internet is global. There’s a lot of international travel by the hundred some odd employees, board members, and the people that are associated with ICANN. It’s something that we feel obligated to do. Most of us are traveling not because we want to travel. We want to inform.
ICANN’s travel spending accounts for nearly 23% of its budget. How many companies spend one fifth of their money on travel? While I don’t doubt its employees need to travel, the organization needs to be more open about its expenditures if it wants to avoid these kinds of attacks. It should release a list of employee travel details, including the cost of airfare, length of stay, and purpose of visit. After all, ICANN is the de facto authority of the domain industry. If we don’t hold them accountable, who will?