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Present: Keith Mitchell, Frode Greisen, Kees Neggers, Wim Vink, Mike Norris Daniel Karrenberg, Rob Blokzijl (invited guest)
1) NCC Operational Report
2) Membership Survey
3) NCC Financial Report: 1988 Results (pre-audit)
4) Personnel Fund
Approval of payment to Fund
5) Personnel Matters
Keith Mitchell chaired the meeting. The minutes from the previous telephone meetings were approved.
1) NCC Operational Report
Daniel Karrenberg gave a number of short operational reports for the board's information:
A total power failure at the Amsterdam Internet Exchange on December 26th 1998 caused the RIPE database server to go down. The machine sustained damage to a RAID controller and service was transferred to the backup machine at the NCC premises.
A number of customer e-mail messages were lost due to unforeseen interactions between a new auto-responding robot and an upgrade in the mail system. All messages were recovered in cooperation with the customers. The availability of ticket history on the web site helped greatly with the resoloution of this problem. Customers could easily verify whether they had been affected, without those queries causing additional delays.
As expected, CENTR had given formal notice for the service contract to terminate on 30th of June; it was also agreed that this termination can be sooner subject to approval of both parties. CENTR is now on course to to incorporate a separate legal entity in the first half of 1999. Today CENTR members are electing an initial executive committee to progress this forth. The board welcomed this development.
The previously planned building extension to the kitchen had been cancelled as the cost was much higher than foreseen and the demand for kitchen space during peak times being less than expected.
The board liability insurance has now been effected as of 18 November 1998. Finding an insurer proved difficult given the specific nature of the RIPE NCC, in that it is difficult to explain what we do and what our liabilities are.
2) Membership Survey
The board reviewed the Membership Survey.
The survey proved to be very satisfactory and will be used as a base line for repeated studies. Some respondents made suggestions to improve documentation for registration services and the database. These suggestions will be taken up and some of them are requesting things that are already being prepared. Other suggestions were made to improve the web site which is already in progress. In general there is a positive perception of the RIPE NCC amongst its membership base as well as a high level of satisfaction with the services and support provided.
Kees van Draanen joined the meeting for points 3 and 4.
3) NCC Financial Report, 1998 Results (pre-audit)
Management presented preliminary results for 1998. Audited accounts are expected to become available during February.
Revenues are slightly higher than budgeted due to membership demographics. Expenditures are lower than budgeted mainly due to lower salary costs which in turn were caused by slower-than-expected hiring. Also the database re-implementation project did not make use of external consultants because no appropriate consultants could be retained.
A provision of ECU 456k was taken in July for bad debts also including outstanding amounts of previous years. This may turn out to be too conservative as the more serious sanctions being phased in result in unexpected recovery of outstanding amounts. This will be further discussed with the auditors. Over the second six months of 1998 time of invoices outstanding has been significantly reduced by formal procedures and more serious sanctions.
On the draft balance sheet the cash in hand is higher than estimated because the personnel fund has not yet been paid as was planned and that expected corrections for social premiums had not yet been received.
Revenues billed in 1998 that pertain to 1999 are included on the balance sheet but will be added to the 1999 income statement as the year progresses. Accrued interest has not been added to income statement and not included in receivables either. The auditors will probably want to correct this.
As agreed with the tax authorities the balance shall not show a profit as any surplus will be distributed to members' accounts in the clearing house. This is to avoid a corporate tax liability.
In summary the financial situation of the RIPE NCC is quite strong.
The investment plan of the fund was approved with the recommendation to look into 6 months investments and to stagger them if this will generate better interest.
The board approved payment of the outstanding amounts for 1997 to the fund.
The board approved calculation of the 1998 obligation to the fund based on the number of employees in December 1998 rather than January 1998; the rationale being that the fund capital is lagging behind the growth of the NCC personnel. Also it was clarified that the obligations are calculated based on the employee salaries including the vacation and end-of year payments as well as the employer part of social security premiums. The board approved payment of the 1998 obligations.
The board asked Kees Neggers to discuss with the fund whether the agreement between the fund and the RIPE NCC needs to be revised to cope better with the growth in RIPE NCC personnel.
5) Personnel Matters
The board continued in closed session with only the board members and Daniel Karrenberg present to discuss personnel matters. Frode Greisen had to leave the meeting after this point.
The board discussed the status of work on the structure of the address supporting organisation for ICANN. There are a few areas where there is no consensus between the RIRs. These were discussed at length. The board re-iterated that a common proposal by the RIRs is the only way forward. Keith Mitchell will contact the chairpersons of the other RIR boards and suggest that a group of 6 board members, possibly extended by the 3 CEOs meet as soon as practical to resolve these issues and produce a document suitable for submission to ICANN. Board members will also use the the RIPE-32 meeting to obtain feedback from the membership and RIPE in general. The board re-iterated that it wishes to work constructively with ICANN on a structure acceptable to the RIPE NCC membership and the RIPE community.
At this point the meeting was adjourned until the next morning, February 27th.
At this point Esther Dyson, interim chair of the initial ICANN board and Geraldine Capdebosq initial ICANN board member joined the meeting. They informed the board on the current status of ICANN. The board explained the current status of the ASO discussions. (Wim Vink did not attend this session).
It was decided to thank Wilfried Woeber officially for his service as a board member during the RIPE plenary and to remove him from the board mailing list.