Lower than expected domain name registrations are forcing ICANN to make significant budgetary cuts, CEO and President Göran Marby explained in his recent post on the ICANN Blog. In the first quarter of 2018 ICANN’s income was $1 million lower than expected and income for the year is expected to remain flat compared to 2017. Marby says ICANN is forecasting lower funding for 2019 compared to the approved 2018 budget.
ICANN is also concerned about depletion in their Reserve Fund. Cherine Chalaby, ICANN Board Chair, in another end of year blog post says that following a public consultation on an “updated rationale and target level for the Reserve Fund … it looks like there is a general consensus from the community that the Reserve Fund should have a target level of a minimum of 12 months of operating expenses.”
Chalaby continues there’s currently a “discussion and debate inside ICANN org and the Board on the options available for replenishing the Reserve Fund. As of the end of September 2017, the Reserve Fund was at the five-month level. We are therefore facing a shortfall of approximately seven months, equivalent to $80 million U.S. dollars, based on our current budget.”
To deal with the drop in forecast income and building up the Reserve Fund, there will be cuts in spending. There will be a closer look at replacing staff and whether new staff are required, staff travel and other commitments, reviewing language services support levels and a consolidation and possible reduction in the volume of reports. There could also be projects that are delayed or stopped. All tinkering at the edges in trying to deal with such significant budget shortfalls.