Probably the most
well-known programs of the SIGs and ACM are the conferences, symposia and
workshops that are sponsored and co-sponsored each year. In FY '07, there were
close to 150 events, ranging in size from SIGGRAPH to workshops with as few as
Nearly all SIGs have one conference, and many SIGs have several. The number
of conferences sponsored by a SIG largely depends on the intellectual field the
SIG covers. In some areas, the primary (or flagship) conference has continuously
expanded over the years. Other areas have seen the development of a number of
medium-sized conferences that focus on specific areas of research. Some SIGs,
unfortunately, experience a decline in interest in their areas of expertise, and a
concomitant decline in size of their conference.
The SIG (and ACM) stands behind its conferences, legally and financially. ACM
carries insurance that provides general and liability insurance coverage for
sponsored and co-sponsored conferences. Completing the TMRF with the signature
of the SIG Chair completes the paperwork needed for the insurance to be in
effect, and transfers legal and financial responsibility to the SIG and ACM
For a sponsored or co-sponsored conference or other event, the SIG (and ACM
standing behind the SIG) are liable for any financial misjudgments on the part
of the conference leadership or events (natural or otherwise) that impact the
Three terms are often used with respect to conferences. A
Workshop is a focused event, attended by 100 people or fewer. A
Symposium generally indicates a technical meeting with 100 to
300 attendees. The term Conference indicates attendance of 300
B. Interaction of SIGs and their
Conference leadership is usually chosen by the SIG leadership or by the
conference steering committee with the approval of the SIG. These are important
positions, with time-consuming responsibilities, and the positions should not be
Generally, SIG leaders (often through a single contact person) are kept in
the loop on the overall progress of the conference (and are consulted on any
substantive changes to the conference focus or schedule) and any major problems
that come up. However, the specific oversight of the conference is in the hands
of the General Chair.
In many SIGs, one person holds responsibility for conference matters, often
the Vice Chair. This person is the primary contact point for conference leaders,
providing advice as needed and feeding information to the SIG Executive
Committee. Some SIGs have one person who works with sponsored and co-sponsored
conferences, and another who works with requests for in cooperation status.
Another useful point for information for current conference leaders is the
experiences of past conference leaders. Some SIGs or conference steering
committees have conference websites where these collections can be seen. Some
are using wikis to post information and advice from past conference leaders.
Conference leadership usually changes from year to year. The expectation is
generally that the conference general chair and program chair will have had a
meaningful role in a past conference, making them familiar with the pace of the
conference and the expectations of conference attendees in terms of special
events and social activities (the general chair), or the workings of the program
committee (the program chair). As noted above, both general chair and program
chair positions require substantial time on the part of the individual.
Some SIGs organize their conferences several years in advance, making it
possible for future conference leaders to have minor leadership roles in prior
years. Other SIGs look to those who have had minor leadership roles or served on
program committees as candidates for general chair and program chair.
Conferences that have their own steering committees generally should also
have at least one member of the SIG Executive Committee actively involved. This
person then provides a natural conduit for information to flow back and forth
between the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee.
The SIG Treasurer and the conference treasurer should consult as necessary on
C. The Question of
The question of overhead (or allocation) included in conference budgets can
be a point of misunderstanding between SIG and conference. The way the finances
work at ACM, the sponsoring SIGs incur an overhead fee on all expenses in the
course of a year, including the expenses of their conferences. (Co-sponsored
conferences are divided in proportion to the percentage of SIG sponsorship.)
When the conference is budgeted, the conference portion of that overhead
allocation is included in the conference budget, to be returned to the SIG and
then to ACM in payment of the fees owed.
SIG leaders need to understand that a conference chair is faced with a
budgeting process that requires a percentage be set aside for overhead and a
portion be set aside for contingency. In budgeting conferences, ACM is looking
for a break-even conference based on reasonable attendance and at a reasonable
fee for attendees. The SIG wants to continue its tradition of strong
conferences. The conference chair often wants a memorable conference. These
goals can come into conflict in the conference budgeting process. (See ACM
Conference Manual for additional details on the budgeting process.)
The SIG can approve a lower contingency percentage or a lower overhead
percentage, but in doing so the SIG is increasing its own risk for the
conference, since it is the SIG that must make up any shortfall, just as the SIG
takes the loss if any sponsored or co-sponsored conference loses money. The
overhead is calculated based on the expenses of the SIG and its conferences, and
is due from the SIG. The overhead charged to the conference is transferred to
the SIG, then onto to ACM.
D. ACM Conference Approval
There are three parts to the TMRF, the Technical Meeting Request Form, that
form the basic approval process for conferences at ACM. The preliminary form is
submitted first, and for repeating conferences allows the hotel negotiations and
publicity for the conference to get underway (including listing in the ACM
Conference Calendar). Information needed at this point includes dates, possible
locations, conference chair and program chair, and details of sponsorship or
For the first occurrence of a conference, the full TMRF must be submitted
before the conference is listed on the ACM Conference Calendar or other
publicity can begin.
The second part of the TMRF is the budget for conference income and expenses,
done on a spreadsheet. The conference budget should be completed at least six
months prior to the conference, and earlier for larger conferences. Usually the
conference chair and the treasurer are primary points of contact with ACM staff
on this. The actual income and expenses for the prior year conferences are
excellent sources for estimates for conference costs.
SIG approval is required on conference budgets.
Why are conferences co-sponsored? Some conferences focus on the intersection
of areas of interest of several SIGs. For example, the Conference on Embedded
Network Sensor Systems (SenSys) looks at topics of interest to the members of
SIGCOMM, SIGMOBILE, SIGARCH, SIGBED, SIGMETRICS, and SIGOPS, and is sponsored by
those six SIGs each year. (Conferences usually have two or three sponsors.)
Co-sponsoring within the ACM framework is relatively simple, with signing of the
PAF by the SIG leaders agreeing to sponsoring percentages of the SIGs involved.
As the sponsorship is more complex, it is important to have understandings about
rotation of conference leadership within the sponsoring groups, agreement on the
focus for the conference, and establishment of a conference steering committee
with all parties represented.
Often SIG conferences are co-sponsored by a SIG and by another group, such as
IEEE CS. A cosponsor needs to be an incorporated, not-for-profit entity (or the
equivalent in another country). Usually there is a written agreement (either a
memo of understanding or a joint sponsorship agreement) that specifies the
percentage of sponsorship for each cosponsor, who owns the conference and its
logo, how the proceedings are to be handled (often alternate year publication),
agreement on providing administrative support for the conference (also often
alternate years), how long the agreement lasts, and how the agreement can be
ended by any of the sponsors. Staff in SIG Services have access to templates for
agreements of this type, and can assist with them.
Note that conferences held outside the United States are sometimes
co-sponsored with local, not-for-profit organizations. Generally, a specific
joint sponsorship agreement should be signed by both parties that spells out
responsibilities and financial and legal understandings in relation to the
conference. Generally, all sponsors share in the overhead. Some local sponsors
may also provided services to the conference for a fee, and such arrangements
should be included in the agreement to avoid confusion later.
F. Initiating New
Sometimes as new areas of interest emerge, the need for a new conference is
apparent. Sometimes a new conference emerges as workshops co-located with major
conferences grow in impact and attendance. Sometimes a group of people with a
shared interest will approach a SIG with an idea for a new conference. The SIG
leadership itself may see an upcoming area where an event specific to the field
will be welcome.
There are several ways a SIG can help a budding new event flourish. It may
make sense to start with a workshop, in order to see the quality of papers
submitted and the enthusiasm for the topic. Another option is to co-locate the
new event with a long-standing event with an audience that has a likely
potential of interest in the new event. This reduces the cost to attend the new
event. Another option is to add a track focusing on the new area to an existing
conference. In any case, the SIG should expect to support a new event
financially for the first several instantiations.
G. SIG Activities and the Conference
The flagship conference of a SIG is often a point where the SIG itself is
very visible, with various awards being presented, meetings (both Executive
Committee and Membership Meetings), etc. Coordination is required to have these
SIG events fit smoothly into the flow of the conference. Early contact between
SIG and conference leaders is highly recommended.
Annual SIG Business Meeting. SIGs usually have an annual meeting,
mandated by their Bylaws. One good place to have that annual meeting is the
SIG's flagship conference. Most annual meetings are scheduled to last an hour or
so, often at the end of the afternoon session or poster session.
Joining SIG through Conference Registration. Some SIGs offer the
option of joining the SIG as part of registering for the conference. Logistical
details for this need to be worked out prior to the conference, including
whether the SIG membership is included in the conference budget.
SIG Awards. Many SIGs use their flagship conference as the point to
announce major SIG awards. SIG and conference leaders need to work closely to
schedule the giving of the awards, allowing for speeches and recognition that go
with the honors.
SIG Executive Committee Meeting Since many of the SIG Executive
Committee members normally attend the SIG flagship conference, it is often
convenient to schedule an Executive Committee meeting around that time and
place. The afternoon or evening prior to the opening of the conference, or a
time just following the conference are often convenient options. Conference
leaders need to be consulted aware of the plans for the meeting as well.
Other organizations sponsor conferences, workshops and other technical
meetings that may be of interest to members of SIGs. Sometimes these other
conferences or organizations request a formal relationship with the SIG, in
cooperation status. The ACM SIGs have no legal or financial responsibility
for in-cooperation events.
ACM SIGs welcome the opportunity to grant cooperating status to interesting
conferences, workshops and other technical meetings that may be of interest to
members, especially in new areas that are not covered by existing events. The in
cooperation status of such events must be approved by the appropriate SIG
Executive Committee, after consideration of the quality of the event. Generally,
certain requirements are met before granting approval.
The motivation for approving in-cooperation status is to provide high quality
outlets for events relevant to ACM SIGs, but not falling under sponsorship or
co-sponsorship agreements.Approval must be requested for each event,
including those that have been granted approval in previous years. Events
seeking approval for in-cooperation status with ACM/SIGs must submit an
In-Cooperation Technical Meeting Request Form, which can be found in the
Benefits of In Cooperation to Conference For the conference, the
benefits of holding a meeting in cooperation with ACM SIGs
- Meeting organizers may use the ACM SIG name/logo on all meeting publicity
and promotional materials.
- If space is available, meeting organizers may receive an opportunity to
announce the meeting free of charge in the SIG newsletter and/or other
- Meeting will be publicized in the Call for Papers and Professional Calendar
sections of Communications of the ACM, free of charge.
- Meeting will be publicized in the ACM on-line conference calendar.
- Meeting organizers may purchase an advertisement in Communications of the
ACM at a special rate. (Ad placement should be arranged through ACM
Headquarters, with CACM advising as to lead time required.) Discounted access to
ACM mailing lists is also available.
- Meeting's proceedings is eligible to be considered for inclusion in the ACM
Basic Requirements. There are some basic requirements for
holding a meeting in cooperation with one (or more) SIGs:
- The meeting's topic must be relevant to the scope of the SIG.
- The meeting must have an open call for participation and a clearly
documented review and evaluation process.
- The meeting cannot be sponsored by a for-profit organization or an
- Registration costs must be reasonable.
- Members of ACM or the SIG must receive the lowest discounted registration
- The "hold harmless" section of the TMRF must be signed by an authorized
representative of the sponsoring organizations.
- A certificate of insurance or letter of financial responsibility from the
sponsor must also be submitted with the TMRF (NOTE: the certificate of insurance
is waived if the sponsor of the in-cooperation event is IEEE).
- Submission of a brief final report to the SIG Executive Committee (e.g., the
event's attendance statistics, the event's final program, plans for subsequent
The Executive Committee of each SIG oversees the granting of in cooperation
status for conferences.
Optional Additional Requirements. In addition to the basic
requirements just listed, a SIG Executive Committee may want to identify
additional requirements for in cooperation status. The list below includes some
items currently required by some SIGs.
- Conference proceedings to be made available for inclusion in the ACM Digital
Library. If this requirement is in effect, conference organizers must supply
written permission from the publisher at time of TMRF submission.
- The meeting must be of high quality, more specifically: (a) the meeting
organizers, including the general chair, program committee chair, and the
program committee, must be known for their quality work.
- Papers must be reviewed by multiple reviewers.
- The ratio of submitted to accepted papers must be reasonable.
- The meeting's dates must not conflict with the other conferences sponsored
by the SIG.
- The call for papers (CFP) must be made available to distribute to SIG
members through its publication. CFP must be submitted at least two months in
advance of publication.
- A one-page advertisement for the ACM/SIG must be published in the event
proceedings and/or program, free of charge.
- Flyers for additional SIG events must be distributed to attendees.
- One copy of the event proceedings must be sent to ACM and will be forwarded
to the SIG leadership.
- If proceedings are to appear in the ACM DL, leaders are required to send
electronic version to ACM. If this is not received, multi-year approvals may be
rescinded and future requests for cooperating status could be denied.
- Membership information for the SIG may be offered to attendees.
- Submission of a brief final report to the SIG Executive Committee (e.g., the
event's attendance statistics, the event's final program, plans for subsequent
Reminder: ACM and ACM SIGs are not financially or legally responsible for
After Approval. Once the SIG leadership has approved the in
cooperation status and the In Cooperation TMRF has been submitted to and
approved by ACM, the following actions are expected:
- SIG must be allowed to publicize the event on its website.
- All promotional materials must include the ACM/SIG logo and state that the
event is being held in-cooperation with the appropriate ACM/SIG.
- The ACM/SIG logo must be posted on the conference website and must appear on
all promotional materials.