CIRA moves ahead with pay package for board

Just over two thirds of members of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) have endorsed a plan to start paying the directors of the body responsible for overseeing the .ca country code top-level domain.

CIRA has announced that in a survey of its membership – a group that includes everyone who has registered an Internet domain ending in .ca – 70.6 per cent of respondents were in favour of the proposed compensation package, 14.6 per cent voted no to the package and 14.8 responded “no opinion.”

The survey was conducted by a third party firm retained by CIRA, said David Hicks, CIRA’s manager of marketing and communications. Out of almost 250,000 members, 12,675 responded – a response rate of roughly five per cent.

The result represents “a solid agreement with our membership,” Hicks said.

CIRA is a not-for-profit corporation set up in 1998. To date its board of directors has been made up of volunteers, but its annual meeting in February 2006 approved a proposal to pay elected directors an annual salary as well as travel expenses. The survey conducted between Jan. 8 and Feb. 5 of this year asked CIRA members whether they approved of the specific compensation package proposed.

CIRA did not provide details of the compensation package to Computing Canada.

The CIRA board has 14 members. They include CIRA’s president and chief executive, Bernard Turcotte, who holds an ex-officio position on the board, and a representative of Industry Canada. They won’t be paid for their board duties. The other 12 members, elected by the membership, will be paid.

Directors have the option of having their board pay donated to the charity of their choice, said Hicks.

According to CIRA, the pay package was considered necessary to attract and keep directors capable of managing the organization effectively. “I also believe, and our members do as well, that people deserve to be compensated for the hard work that they put into CIRA,” Hicks added.

Margaret Osborne, a professor of business management at Seneca College in Toronto and a former director of CIRA, agreed that CIRA directors should be paid. “The people that can do that job well, certainly to me are in positions where their opporuntity cost to particicipate is very high,” Osborne said. “The learning curve is very long.”

Osborne, who spent two years on the CIRA board, said she found the preparation time for meetings was substantial and the issues the directors dealt with were complex. “I found the time commitment was very large and the learning curve was very steep,” she said. She added that the CIRA board is dealing today with important issues that require able board members prepared to devote time to their responsibilities.

“I think we’re at a very critical point right now with the decisions that they’re making,” said Osborne.

“CIRA really can’t afford to not pay the directors at this point. I really feel it’s the right step.”

The package was also approved by the CIRA board at its February meeting, Hicks said, and will be retroactive to last October.


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