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ICANN budget proposal exposed online

A draft of the group's proposed budget, which suggests sharp increases in expenditures and new staff positions for the controversial body, leaks onto the Internet.

A draft budget for the group that oversees the Internet address system, which has been exposed on the Web, proposes sharp increases in expenditures and new staff positions for the controversial body.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) confirmed the authenticity of the document but emphasized it is not final. The draft proposes a 20 percent increase in revenues for the upcoming fiscal year--from $5.02 million to $6.03 million. The proposed budget also shows a 19 percent increase in total expenses--from $4.2 million to $5.03 million.

In addition, the draft said that total personnel costs are projected at $2.2 million and suggested a further $525,000 for five new positions--communications director, associate general counsel, registry liaison, systems staff and Webmaster.

"This is a draft that crept out, the way things creep out," said Stuart Lynn, chief executive of ICANN. "The proposed budget is not being posted yet. It's a working draft of a committee that we've been working on for four months...Someone let it out, and of course everybody gets all involved with it. It's kind of premature."

Lynn added that ICANN will not know if it will hire new staff "until the board approves the budget."

The leaked budget proposal comes as the nonprofit organization, created nearly three years ago, continues to receive criticism from online advocates as well as some congressional members. In February, during a House subcommittee hearing at which ICANN Chairman Vinton Cerf testified, some lawmakers criticized ICANN's consideration of new domains for being too closed.

ICANN adopted seven new domain-name suffixes in November in an attempt to expand the previous list of top-level domains, including .com, .net and .org, with .aero, .co-op, .info, .museum, .name, .pro and .biz.

The preliminary budget was posted last week to a restricted mailing list for accredited registrars of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). The DNSO advises the ICANN's board on policy issues relating to the domain name system.

Lynn said the ICANN's board of directors will next meet in early June in Stockholm.

"We don't have a budget," Lynn said, calling the leaked draft "a work in progress."