RE: [council] Staff utilization report
Just a few clarifications in response to Jeff's email:
1. I have not been asked whether the executive team is aware of the
workload problem among GNSO policy staff. But, since I've now been asked, yes,
they are aware.
2. Nowhere does staff recommend that the GNSO not take on any further
work. We simply say that staff cannot take on new work and continue with all
of the existing work, managed/handled in the same way. This is NOT the same
thing. I suggest that if the Council, for whatever reason, chooses not to
delay or postpone some portion of current work, then there simply is no
resource bandwidth to start new work. So we are not making a recommendation,
we are suggesting options under the circumstances just in case the Council
concludes that certain new projects are more pressing than certain existing
projects. If the Council wants to initiate new work without staff support, that
is also an option of course.
3. Jeff's points with regard to "freeing up hours" assumes that the hours
indicated in our report are average hours that are constant. The hours/project
report are not average hours for each project, they are actual hours for the
week we studied. Jeff's analysis assumes too much regarding the utility of the
data in the report. The report is useful to show that staff worked 348 hours
that week and what we did during those hours. It helped me validate that staff
workload overall is still excessive. In some cases the hours spent might be a
useful guide of future work, in many cases it will not. That is why I suggest
Step 5 - where staff helps the GNSO Council estimate the resources that might
be freed up if we handle projects differently.
We are happy to respond to questions, including detailed questions like those
that Jeff raises about specific projects. On Whois, even if the Council rejects
further studies, I am still implementing one study which will take some smaller
number of hours to support. The OSC may be on hiatus, but its work is not
done. The new constituencies work is pursuant to the Board mandate, I
definitely think the amount of hours could be reduced over time, but there were
Board deadlines to be met that staff was working on during the week of the
study. I am spending many hours personally on prioritization with the
preparation of this report and this dialogue, and also the time I spent
studying those new tasks, and how I think they might best be supported, so I do
not think "prioritization" time will be eliminated.
I must also respectfully express grave concern about Jeff's proposal to
consider 45 hours/week as the baseline work hours for staff. We all strive to
excel in our work and will likely work more hours. Frankly that is a given,
and is proven out by the crazy hours we've been working for years now. The
GNSO Council cannot dictate staff work hours, these are negotiated with our
employer and subject to applicable employment laws.
Lastly, staff should be represented on any committee that is formed on this
From: owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Neuman, Jeff
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 5:55 AM
To: Stéphane Van Gelder; Council GNSO
Subject: RE: [council] Staff utilization report
I would also like to add some of my own personal comments to Stephane's on some
of the issues I see with this Utilization studies and the conclusions drawn
1. First, the utilization rate is drawn from a 40-hour work week which I
understand is "ideal", but I would venture to say that none of us only work 40
hours a week. I wish this were the case, but unfortunately it is not
especially when "admin" time is figured into the equation. With "admin time"
in the equation, most of us work at least 45+ hours per week. If you were to
figure in 45 hours per week per FTW (as opposed to 40), then the utilization
rate drops from 126% to 112% (348/310.5 X 100)(assuming 6.9 FTEs).
2. ICANN policy staff is recommending that the Council not assign any further
work as a result of them being over capacity. GNSO Council leadership has
tried over and over again to figure out why this is the case and this report
points out that some of the reasons staff is overworked have little if anything
to do with the activities of the Council. Yet the requests to reduce staff
workload to my knowledge is ONLY going to the Council. I have asked ICANN
policy staff if this study and their requests to reduce work load has been sent
to ICANN Executive Management and the ICANN Board, but have not gotten a
response. As a council, we have zero insight or control into the work that is
assigned to ICANN Policy staff by the Board or by ICANN executive management,
or for that matter any request that comes in from a constituency or stakeholder
group for support. From my estimates of the time as indicated in the snapshot,
50 hours of its work comes from the Board and/or Executive team while another
26 hours came from the request of new groups wanting to be constituencies.
Combines that is nearly 2 full time employees (of the 6.9 that have been
allocated to the GNSO). The GNSO Council has absolutely no insight nor control
over this work by ICANN Policy staff.
3. I want us to engage in a constructive dialogue on this as I believe it is
critical. I had hoped not to have to drill down on individual hours and
numbers in this utilization study, but because ICANN policy staff is making the
recommendation that we take up no new projects as a Council, I think we need to
start getting into the weeds a little, so here it goes. This is not meant to
question the hours spent to date on the work, but rather an eye towards looking
to the future.
a) This study states that new Constituencies Support/Process is 26 hours per
week. I really do not believe that this will be (or even should be) the amount
of this will require on an ongoing basis. That is more than ½ of a full person
in man hours and that seems really high. Even if it were 10 hours, that would
seem high, but lets assume for arguments sake that this could be reduced to 10
hours per week.
b) The OSC seems to be winding down its activities, correct, which is another
c) Unless a motion is approved at this Council meeting, the Whois studies
would not be ongoing work, that would be another 10 hours.
d) Registration Abused Policy WG is now closed and has morphed into Best
Practices and UDRP, which is another 6 hours per week.
e) I believe the GCOT work is completed or almost complete. Another 2 hours.
f) PPSC is down in the study at 6 hours a week, but I do not see more PPSC
work in the next several months making way for the Standing Committee (which
has a separate time allocation).
g) With all luck, this work prioritization I think can be eliminated and
become a burden for the Council and its leadership - another 14 hours.
Just looking at this quick math, making these changes would save us 68 hours of
ICANN policy staff time. Even if we went to the 100% level at 40 hours per
week (But see #1 above), that would still leave us with 18 hours to play with,
which is where I would put the new WHOIS studies which look like one or more
may move forward and some other items the Council wants to achieve.
4. So, if we commit to making even these small changes, what reductions can we
expect from the Board and ICANN's Executive Team as that takes up nearly 2
persons' time? If even we can reduce that to 1.5 persons' time, that would
give us another 20 hours to play with.
5. Conclusion: I do not believe it is fair to recommend that new projects be
taken on. I believe there is still room to play with AND I would like to see
the ICANN Executives and the Board make the same commitments we are making in
helping to achieve realistic workloads. This is a problem, but not just a
problem for the Council. This is a problem that needs to be handled with ICANN
Executive Management and the Board. As such, I would like to explore with the
Council the formation of an exploratory committee comprised of GNSO Council
members, ICANN Executive Management and ICANN Board members to look into this
issue and figure out the best path forward. The answer cannot be on a going
forward basis that no more work can be done.
This is all my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of my company,
my stakeholder group or others in Council leadership.
Jeffrey J. Neuman
Neustar, Inc. / Vice President, Law & Policy
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From: owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Stéphane Van Gelder
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 7:14 AM
To: Council GNSO
Subject: [council] Staff utilization report
I wanted to get this out to you asap and hopefully you will have time to read
this by the time we start our weekend discussions in SFO. To that end, I would
like to thank Liz for providing a short format for this report that makes it
easy and quick to read.
As you all know, we as a Council have been struggling with prioritization for a
while now. Since the start of the year, we have stepped up our efforts. We have
already deleted several projects that were either no longer active or just
plain finished. We are also now looking at a pending project at each Council
meeting (this is normally set for agenda item 2, except for SFO because of a
On top of those efforts, the Leadership team has been engaging in discussions
with staff so that we can understand the resource issues that are coming to the
fore more and more often.
At my request, Liz has provided some key data to help us in our understanding
of the situation. This is summarized in the report below.
I want to thank Liz and all the policy and support staff for the outstanding
work they provide for both the GNSO and the community as a whole. I personally
feel very fortunate and privileged to be working with such talented people, and
I continue to be humbled by staff's ability to take on such an intense workload
Continuing with the personal comments, I feel that our (the ICANN community in
general I mean) inability to manage our workload is one of the greatest dangers
we face. It has been my experience, while on this Council, that there seems to
be more interest in launching new projects, whatever those may be, than
completing existing ones. And obviously, this way of doing things is not
sustainable in the long run.
I am therefore not surprised to see staff raising an insistent red flag lately.
But I also think it is unfair to ask the Council to tackle this by itself. We
have no control over, and no clear vision of, the way staff is assigned to each
project, be they GNSO or otherwise. As the recent consumer choice issue shows,
we also don't have control over how the Board may send work our way. And I am
sure, although I am happy to be corrected on this, that the Board does not look
at current staff utilization levels before assigning a new project to ICANN's
SOs and ACs. If they did, I don't think the Cartagena consumer choice
resolution would have been made in the way it has.
So I think it is crucial that we as a community continue to look at this in
great detail to try and find a way to improve. Currently, staff are basically
telling us as a Council that we should no longer initiate new projects. Line
that up with the tentative agenda for our SFO Open Council meeting, on which
there are at least two motions that if adopted could add to the existing
workload, and you can see we clearly have a problem.
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