In the second article in a series focused on the RIPE NCC’s Draft Activity Plan and Budget 2024, I look at the core work within the Registry and how I see our plans shaping up for the future.
Draft Activity Plan and Budget 2024
Our Draft Activity Plan and Budget 2024 sets out our plans for the year ahead along with the associated costs. It has now been published in draft form and a consultation has opened to hear your views on our activities and where the money is spent.
We held an open house on 1 November to hear feedback on the current draft and there will be further discussion at the RIPE NCC General Meeting in November before last changes are made and a final version is approved by the Executive Board and published in December.
The Registry Past and Present
This is the first RIPE Labs article I've published since I rejoined the RIPE NCC as Chief Registry Officer in September. Over the past decade, I've been responsible for the management of RIPE NCC memberships for a number of different organisations and an active participant in the RIPE and global RIR communities. I've worked to uphold the function of the Registry, the RIPE Database, and address policy in general for many years - and I'm proud to carry on this work at the helm of the Registry at a time when it's more important than ever to carry out our processes effectively and efficiently.
The Registry is central to what we do at the RIPE NCC. As such, upholding Registry excellence in a changing world remains one of our top priorities. This means ensuring Registry accuracy, maintaining compliance with the relevant regulatory bodies in our service region, and allocating number resources in accordance with RIPE policies.
Previously, we had an abundance of IPv4 resources to distribute to our members and we could count on the number of LIRs to keep growing. We passed the milestone of 20,000 LIRs in 2018 and saw a peak of 25,363 in November 2019. This brought steady income to the RIPE NCC. Since then, we've witnessed the growing consolidation of multiple LIRs, and a corresponding reduction in our income. On top of this, there have been several waves of sanctions that required us to intensify our compliance activities, greatly increasing our workload.
Today, multiple LIR consolidations continue as expected, and sanctions compliance remains a focus. At the same time, the RIPE NCC has now reduced its budget in response to the above decrease in income and in response to feedback from members during the discussion on our charging scheme. All of this means that we will have to make our processes more efficient in order to deliver the same high-quality service to our members at a reduced cost. While our priorities stay the same, we aim to deliver them through more efficient use of the tools at our disposal and further automating our processes.
A Core Service
We saw in the RIPE NCC Survey 2023 that members recognise the work we do in the Registry as a core function, and we were pleased to see they are generally very satisfied with our performance in this area.
"Satisfaction with the quality of resources registration services, interactions with customer services and the speed of responses have all increased slightly since 2019, to 90%, 88% and 86% respectively." - RIPE NCC Survey 2023 Report
The Registry team has shown tremendous resiliency and service delivery in the face of several challenges in recent years - from dealing with the implications of sanctions and conflicts in our service region, to a rise in the volume and complexity of Registry requests. Due diligence checks have increased for every type of ticket and, to ensure compliance, each of these has to be checked individually. And yet through this time, going back to the pandemic, the Registry teams has remained fully committed to delivering service excellence.
This is reflected in the membership's appreciation for the work performed as shown in the positive feedback received in the recent membership survey:
"The general consensus is that the RIPE NCC is highly competent in managing a secure registry and IP transfer processes.” - RIPE NCC Survey 2023 Report
And, through constant improvement of the Registry, we also continue to achieve the goals we set for ourselves through implementation of OKRs.
Our challenge now is to maintain these high levels of service delivery while we continue to optimise our processes. We have to keep evolving so we can provide value to the membership and wider community in a post RIR IPv4 runout world. And we also have to adapt to budget cuts.
The Registry Budget: 2023 vs 2024
The overall budget for the Registry has been reduced from 10,000 kEUR to 9,600 kEUR. Part of this budget - for the LIR Portal, RPKI, and the RIPE Database - sits under the budget of the Chief Technology Officer. As Chief Registry Officer, I will go over our plans in the three main Registry functions: Registration Services, Member Services and Registry Monitoring.
The budget for these three Registry functions has increased slightly from 4,910 kEUR to 5,000 kEUR:
- Increase of 7.5% for Personnel costs due to market development and inflation
- This increase has been offset by reductions in software licences and consultancy
- End result is a 1.8% increase in the budget
In the Charging Scheme discussion, members called for us to be more efficient with our spending. In response, we have made savings that will not affect the high quality of the services we provide to our members.
For example, we have made significant savings through reductions in our ticketing and sanctions compliance licences - focusing on cost efficiencies where we can without affecting quality. We have also optimised our tool usage in our sanctions screening so that we are reducing costs in this activity despite also planning to upgrade our remaining tools.
As our staff tackle a heavy workload, automation is key to making our processes more efficient. We set an objective of completing 2,400 Assisted Registry Checks (ARCs) per year for our Registry Monitoring team, which we hope to achieve through our new ARC automation plan. We also plan to have carried out verification checks on all of our members over a 5-year time window in 2024 to combat fraud.
Ensuring compliance with sanctions is a priority for the long-term stability of the RIPE NCC, and ensuring an accurate Registry is our lifeblood - automation will help us accomplish these even with our reduced budget.
We also pride ourselves on our world-class service to members, and we have introduced new ways to meet their needs. First, we have implemented Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics throughout our Registry functions to measure our performance so we know where to improve.
After evaluating member feedback, we are also improving our billing process in Member Services and plan to reduce the number of outstanding invoices in the next billing cycle. The only Registry activity with an increased budget is Registration Services, where we will carry out an external audit to verify the integrity of the Registry, a necessary expense that is counterbalanced by our cost savings elsewhere.
Despite the need to adapt to changing circumstances and our increased compliance efforts, we have planned our activities in the Registry to ensure utmost efficiency and customer satisfaction. No matter the budget changes ahead, we are here to be of service to our members, to drive Registry accuracy and provide services that add value to the community.