CIRA plans to start paying board of directors

The non-profit organization that manages the dot-ca domain names is checking with its members to find out how much it should fork over once it starts paying its board of directors for the first time.

A proposal to offer compensation for the board of the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA) was passed at its annual meeting last February, but earlier this week CIRA said it would conduct an online survey between Jan. 8 until Feb. 5 to get feedback on a specific pay package. The financial details of the package were not released, but in addition to an annual salary it would also include travel expenses, a spokesman said.

“With what CIRA does in terms of an organization – its responsibility for the dot-ca domain, which has business value, its function as a resource for Canadians to communicate with each other – we want to get people who are capable of managing that resource effectively,” said David Hicks, CIRA’s manager of marketing and communications.

CIRA turned to a consulting firm to come up with the compensation package, Hicks said, a process that included a survey of 12 other firms and a statistical breakdown of what directors in a similar kind of organization would get paid for the amount of work involved. CIRA board members meet formerly eight times a year but are involved in a great deal of committee work, Hicks added.

While CIRA is positioning its move as a way of attracting and retaining the best directors possible, a former board member said there could be another motive. Mark Jeftovic, founder of Toronto-based registrar easyDNS, said he initially supported the reforms in order to avoid “board capture” – undue influence on the dot-ca domain by interest groups that tried to stack the voluntary CIRA board with their favoured candidates.

“Although I’ve never been in favour of compensation, I understand the argument that you’ve got to attract a certain calibre of people — I can tell you it is a lot of work,” he said. “It is very time-consuming. It was more time than I could commit to it, and that’s one of the reasons I never ran for reelection.

“The caveat to that it also attracts the wrong kind of person to the board. What’s the right way to say this? It attracts the career-underemployed consultant type of person, the resume-stuffer.”

Hicks said the pay package will be retroactive to last CIRA board election if it is approved, though there is no set date.

“It all depends on what the membership comes back and says,” he said. “We’re hoping we’ve designed a fair package.” 

The compensation package was only part of a series of motions from last year’s meeting that will change the governance of its board. The board used to include nine members elected by the membership at large from a slate presented by a nomination committee and additional nominations by members, plus three members appointed by organizations chosen to represent major Internet constituencies. One member, for instance, was appointed by the Canadian Association of Internet Providers (CAIP), an Internet service providers’ association.

To gain more regional representation, it has since removed the three appointed positions and divided the 12 elected slots into two slates. Nine of the positions will now be filled from a slate presented by the nominating committee, while the other three will be filled from nominations by members.

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