Minutes of the November 20, 2001 SGB EC Conference Call
1) Review status of current action items
The following items were reported complete.
Action: Hayne to lead effort to choose a conference manuscript tracking tool, arrange access, support and enhancement, and develop a business plan, within the next 3 months (3/11/01). Reassigned to Hayne from Cohoon (4/26/01).
Stephen Hayne has completed this action. During the last SGB meeting he reported that he has a list of conference manuscript tracking used by the SIGs. Based on his conversations with the SIG and Conference leaders it would be difficult to find a single package that all were happy using. Those SIGs that are pleased with the software they are using are willing to share it with others. Baglio has contacted Hayne for the URL for his report. This will be linked to the SGB page so that it can be utilized as a resource for SIG and conference leaders.
Action: SGB EC Investigate the efficacy of expanding the view of ACM membership as outlined in March'01 minutes regarding a Broader View of who is an ACM Member.(3/11/01)
The SGB EC will schedule a membership discussion for the February meetings. Chesnais will take the lead on that.
2) Update on EC and Council Meeting
Chesnais summarized the activities at the EC and Council meetings. The SGB representatives brought the following SGB Portal recommendation to the ACM EC and to Council:
Motion: Move that the SGB accept the proposal that the SIGs finance the development of the Guide, in exchange for making the Guide free to all and enabling SIG-specific enhancements to the Guide.
That the SGB EC constitute a group to work with HQ and the ACM EC to agree on the details.
That the SGB EC respond to requests from individual SIGs, if help is needed in meeting this obligation.
Chesnais reported that there was a clear disconnect between various parts of the organization as to the proposal and its effects on ACM financially. To make sure that all parties participate in the recommendations and the decision making on this subject, Stephen Bourne assigned the SGB, Pubs and staff to put a task force together to make a recommendation for the February meetings. Chesnais asked Berenbaum to participate.
Chesnais also brought forth the SGB request regarding the relationship between fees for products and services. The SGB had previously requested that Council agree to amend Bylaw 6, Section 6 as follows:
Fee for ACM+SIG member
<= fee for ACM only or SIG only member
< non member,
with no explicit ordering between SIG only and ACM only members.
Council asked that the SGB provide justification and specific examples of their intent. Chesnais put together an ad hoc committee that included Brown, Tremaine and Siegel and presented their findings:
Bylaw 6 removes key visible incentive to join a SIG. SIGs offering member benefits, like free access to DL, are in violation of Bylaw 6 by not offering the same to all ACM members. Specific lower fees for services can be a very visible marketing tool for SIGs who attract members who are not computer scientists (CHI & GRAPH). May hinder co-sponsored workshops and conferences with other societies by opening the total number of people of people who would receive the lowest rate.
Chesnais reported that this request brought up many interesting concerns. Of major concern was that the SGB would take this the wrong way. Council weighed the positives and negatives and did not take it lightly. There is a differential already built in the price structure. Council did not endorse the change. The ACM EC and Council will co-locate their next meetings with the SGB in an effort to show the importance of the SIGs to the organization and how seriously their requests were considered.
A proposal for a new flagship publication aimed at practitioners was presented. Council approved moving forward in principle and delegated to the ACM EC the responsibility for: Securing engagement of the Publications Board, further development of the proposal and plan, better delineation of the target market, clearer picture of the editorial direction and content (sample TOCS issue), market research to test assumptions, project timeline with appropriate checks and milestones. Council authorized spending $100K on these activities and will review a full proposal at its February, 2002 meeting.
Chesnais reported that SIGCUE's dissolution was finalized.
3) Nomination Issue from SIGGRAPH
Berenbaum reported that SIGGRAPH the SIGGRAPH EC asked the SGB EC to resolve an issue concerning the interpretation of SIGGRAPH's bylaws with regard to nominations. This year the nominations committee reported that the Chair had submitted a slate with a candidate that had not been discussed by the committee. There was some confusion as to whether the committee was the nominating body or the Chair was the nominating body. They sought advice for the future not for anything that had already occurred.
The SGB EC, felt that SIGGRAPH's bylaws, clearly indicate a function as a committee. Specifically citing the passage "The slate of candidates selected by the Nominating Committee...", and felt that committees, unless otherwise stated, should be run according to Roberts rules. SIGGRAPH has the option of using another mode of operation if clearly stated. The SGB EC is not imposing a mode of operation, but stating what the default is in absence of clearly stated definitions.
Action: Niederman will develop a default guideline to be included in the SGB operating rules which indicates that nominations are the function of a committee.
Action: Baglio to place SGB operating rules on February agenda. Operating rules will be amended to include the default guideline on nominations being a function of a committee.
4) SIGGRAPH requests for policy exceptions -
A) Sole Source Justification for Web Programming Services
SIGGRAPH 2002 requests sole source selection of InterConnect for Web Programming Services, with contract value totaling $ 107,525 for services to include migration of existing SIGGRAPH 2001 systems to the new Linux siggraph.org platform and enhancements to those systems to support SIGGRAPH 2002 and beyond. This sole source request is based on three key factors: experience and familiarity with existing software and requirements, reliable past experience with the quality of work and service provided by InterConnect, and the existence of a longer term solution.
InterConnect has been providing Web Programming services for the past four years. This has included the initial designs and implementations for the Electronic Submissions System, Online Review System, Industry Directory, and Personal Scheduler applications. Each year they have successfully taken committee input to improve the systems. These highly customized applications are very conference-specific. Their experience with these systems and the conference requirements makes them an obvious choice for continuing to support these applications.
Secondly, the existing applications have been successful and InterConnect's work has been of high quality. When problems have arisen, they have responded quickly to correct them and ensure conference success. They are responsive and familiar with the conference structure in which these applications work.
Finally, this sole source request for SIGGRAPH 2002 is seen as a short term solution. A longer term Request For Proposal is currently under development to solicit bids from multiple vendors for a multi-year contract. Leo Hourvitz and Jeff Jortner [siggraph.org system managers] have been actively involved in both current year discussions with Interconnect as well as the requirements for the upcoming RFP projected to cover SIGGRAPH 2003-2005.
The conference had hoped to work directly with ACM IS staff to provide web programming solutions for SIGGRAPH conferences and to potentially offer as services to other SIGs. However, ACM's internal programming resources are currently tied up improving their internal systems, notably for membership and the e-store, and despite their interest in collaborating they are unable to commit programming resources to such a project at this time. The system managers group, led by Jeff and Leo, intends to pursue higher-level discussion with InterConnect (as well as any subsequent vendors) to leverage work completed to date into a system that will be scalable in the future and potentially will be more compatible with the one used by ACM. These discussions will also include the possible designation of an ACM SIGGRAPH Database Administrator (DBA) and the eventual development of a centralized database that will drive conference Web site content and many management functions including scheduling of rooms, resources, student volunteers, etc.
The SGB EC was concerned that this request was a result of poor planning. There was sufficient time to issue an RFP as the need for this contract was no surprise. There is a concern that the SIGs are painting themselves into a corner with regard to vendors. The SGB EC recognizes that the SIGGRAPH leadership is stuck at this point. As a result they will endorse approving this sole source contract but SIGGRAPH leadership needs to understand that this is not to happen again.
Motion: Move to endorse exception to ACM policy and allow SIGGRAPH to sole source their Web Programming Services. This is a one-time only exception.
Action: Chesnais to bring exception to policy on request for SIGGRAPH sole source web programming contractor to ACM EC.
B) Request for extension of Decorating Contract for the SIGGRAPH conference
The SIGGRAPH Conference requests a waiver to the current RFP requirements set forth by ACM for the General Services contract. They would like to request a two-year extension to our current contract with Freeman Decorating. They have proven themselves willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of the conference, and are actively involved with the planning committee in developing the best conference possible. They continually get high marks from both the volunteers and contractors, and have shown a willingness to offer alternate cost-effective options when budget concerns loomed. They have recently instituted a flat-fee billing arrangement to assist with the current budget crunch faced by SIGGRAPH 2001 - again demonstrating their desire to be work as a team player.
Additionally, there are very few companies with the size and resources to handle an event as complex as SIGGRAPH. Freeman has offices and ample resources available in all of our current conference cities. As the conference committee, volunteers and contractors alike, are well satisfied with the services provided by Freeman, and they continually demonstrate their desire to provide the highest level of service possible, they would like the option of extending their agreement, rather than going out for a full RFP process.
Chesnais explained that the SGB EC approved a similar request brought forth by SIGDA on behalf of the DAC conference. That request clearly indicated additional benefit to the conference resulting from the extension. He suggested that the SGB EC endorse this but suggest to the SIGGRAPH leaders that they exchange this extension for clear benefit to the conference such as additional discounts.
Motion: Move to endorse a waiver to current policy and allow a two-year extension to ACM SIGGRAPH's contract with Freeman Decorating. SIGGRAPH leadership is encouraged to exchange this extension for clear benefit to the conference.
Action: Chesnais to bring endorsement of SGB EC to ACM EC to waive current policy and allow ACM SIGGRAPH to extend their contract with Freeman Decorating for 2 more years.
C) To increase the contract threshold amount from $50,000 to $75,000 for contracts requiring RFPs
With current policy, contracts below $50,000 do not require a formal RFP process, and the SIG Conference Chair can sign the contracts. There are many such small contracts, and this is recognized as a great convenience. However, the current threshold amount of $50,000 was set sometime before 1992, and several of our small contracts are now at or above this amount. ACM SIGGRAPH requests an increase in this threshold from $50,000 to $75,000 to reflect inflation over the past ten years and allow for inflation over the next few years. SIGGRAPH currently has three contracts that would be affected by this.
Chesnais suggested that the SGB recommend extending the limit for contracts requiring RFP's from $50K to $75K for conferences having a budget over $1 million. The SGB EC agreed that was appropriate.
Motion: Move to endorse policy modification on the RFP process bringing the threshold to $75,000 for conferences with budgets in excess of $1M.
Action: Chesnais to bring endorsement of SGB EC to ACM EC to change policy modify policy on the RFP process and bringing the threshold to $75,000 for conferences with budgets in excess of $1M.
D) To allow 5-year multi-year contracts
With current policy, contracts cannot exceed a three year period. The SIGGRAPH conference has a significant number of large, multi-year contracts. Currently these are all three-year contracts, with a 30-day notice cancellation policy. They can cancel for any reason with a 30-day notice.
Every year they must perform the full RFP process for three to five of these multi-year contracts. This creates quite a drain on the time of the volunteers, all of whom have other very major duties, such as being a SIGGRAPH Conference Chair, a member of the Conference Advisory Group and/or a member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee. If they could have five-year contracts they would reduce the number to two or three RFPs for multi-year contracts per year.
The three-year contract also imposes a time and effort penalty on the current contractors. In a three year contract, the contractor is focused on bidding for the next contract during two of the three years. For example, Conference Management's latest contract was for SIGGRAPH 2001. The bids hit before SIGGRAPH 99, and negotiations occurred while planning SIGGRAPH 1000. It is very costly for companies to prepare full-blown bids this frequently. The potential bidders spend a large amount of time putting a proposal together, meeting with upper management, and putting together an on-site presentation if it gets that far. ACM SIGGRAPH would prefer to have vendors focused more on the SIGGRAPH Conference and less frequently in a position of working on a new contract.
We also understand that it is very unusual for a contract this size to come up for bid so often; especially with a 30-day, cancellation clause. Two of our major contractors, Smith, Bucklin & Associates and AVW Audio Visual, Inc., do not have any other clients that operate in this fashion. One of our contractors recently attended an event with planners from independent associations, none of whom operated in this manner.
They feel that being able to contract for five-year contracts will save the volunteers and contractors a large amount of time and save ACM SIGGRAPH money. If SGB and ACM approve these changes in contract policies, the SIGGRAPH Conference Advisory Group will bring to the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee for approval the contracts whose limits they wish to change.
In the past the SGB EC has been asked to endorse exceptions to this policy for the SIGGRAPH conference and the DAC conference. Chesnais suggested that this change be limited to conferences with budgets in excess of $1M.
Motion: Move to endorse a change in policy on the length of contracts for 3 to 5 years for conferences with budgets in excess of $1M.
Action: Chesnais to bring endorsement of SGB EC to ACM EC to change policy on the length of contracts from 3 to 5 years for conferences with budgets in excess of $1M.
5) Publications Update -
Cohoon reported that Bob Allen of the University of Maryland has been named Publications Board Chair. The next set of SGB meetings will be very busy as ACM EC and Council have chosen to meet there. As a result the pubs board will likely meet with the SGB in the Fall.
Cohoon indicated that the pubs board continues discussions on the Portal with input for staff and boards. As indicated earlier a new publication has been proposed which is to be directed at practitioners. Cohoon will provide input as the SGB EC representative to the Pubs Board. Then, ACM Council which includes the 4 SIG representatives will make the final decision on moving ahead.
The next call is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18th at 3:00 pm Eastern.
- Donna Baglio
- Alan Berenbaum
- Alain Chesnais
- Jim Cohoon
- Rob Corless
- Kathy Haramundanis
- Mark Scott Johnson
- Bruce Klein
- Fred Niederman
- Carla Ellis
- Stu Feldman
- Mary Lou Soffa