SIG Governing Board Meeting Friday, August 21, 2015

1.0 Welcome, Introductions (Madden)

Patrick Madden welcomed the group and a microphone was passed around for those in attendance to give introductions.

2.0 Welcome from Incoming ACM CEO (Schnabel)

Bobby Schnabel introduced himself and gave a review of his professional background as well as a presentation on an overview of his vision of the opportunities and challenges to ACM today. Schnabel explained that ACM is the world’s premier, fully international, computing and information technology professional society which comprehensively reflects the excitement and diversity (technical as well as people diversity) of computing and IT to support its members throughout their careers.

There are many opportunities for us to continue to serve practitioners, entrepreneurs and technical breadth.

While we are an integrated global organization in programs, leadership, member recognition and image, we have opportunities to grow in South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Central/Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and South Africa to make ACM fully international.

ACM has 110,000 members and even though that is a healthy number, it is a small fraction of the world’s practitioners (there are 3 million in the US). We need to understand that we are not reaching as many people as we could. For practitioners, we offer services such as Webinars, Tech Packs, Podcasts, E-Learning and Publications. What should we focus on for developing practitioner membership? How focused should we be on integrating entrepreneurs into ACM? We are not going to reorganize every group in this room but somehow we have to go in both directions and we have recognized that some areas are going to appear different. We will continue to develop impactful areas. ACM has a very impressive set of Education programs and continues to be an area of opportunity. ACM also has an opportunity to be the world leader in diversity in computing and IT which we will continue to develop.

Our long range challenges involve publications and membership.  We need to create DL services and features which will make it far more than the sum of its parts.  The examination of our membership model will continue to be a focus.

3.0 Report from ACM President (Wolf)

Alexander Wolf welcomed Schnabel and expressed excitement for all that he brings to ACM.  Wolf also thanked Patricia Ryan for serving as acting Executive Director and essentially acting as CEO for several months prior to Schnabel’s arrival. Wolf explained that membership is at an all-time high at close to 112,000 and has been steadily increasing. We are publishing more papers and we have more people in the community. We continue to support the “Good Works” of ACM and subsidize the cost of student membership. Diversity, gender, education, public policy, internationalization and engagement are all areas we are active in.  We cannot do everything ourselves but we are able to build the community around issues and issues of diversity is one of them.

As of July 31, 2015 we had over 34,000 student members and the majority of members are outside of the US with the most growth in India and China. Of the two sides of ACM’s financials (General and SIG) the General represents everything outside the SIGs. Overall the ACM General side has positive cash flow with a projected net of 2.5K for 2015. On the SIG side, there is a positive cash flow as well. 2015 has a projected net of 3.6K, of which, 3.1K comes from Digital Library distribution. When you put those two numbers together you can see that ACM is very healthy.

International activities have been in development for a number of years and have grown to be very stable. ACM China, India and Europe are all registered organizations. We are in partnership with the China Computing Federation which is one of the main computing societies in China. We have established ACM China which is a registered organization which has allowed us to develop chapters, education programs, conferences and membership. Our association with CCF has allowed us to have CACM articles translated into Chinese.

ACM India has a very successful conference series and active community of women in computing. The organization is interested in building a research community there by increasing the numbers of CS PhDs. The establishment of a Research Board will allow researchers to develop a dialogue with government on this.

ACM Europe has a mature community of computing professionals.  ACM is also registered in Brussels which has had their first election. ACM Europe has an active ACM-W chapter.  The second womENcourage conference will be held in Sweden in September.  EUACM is the policy arm of ACM Europe which interacts with European governments, corresponding to the activity of USACM. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is a European organization that ACM contributes to which brings together leaders in Mathematics, Physics, Life Science, Chemistry and Computer Science with 200 young researchers to interact over the course of 1 week in an effort to advise and inspire the next generations of scientists.

Wolf provided an update on the retreat from 2013 and the progress of the recommendations which came out of that. We continue to look as ways to interact with the 3 million people who contact ACM a year by offering membership to people who have exceeded a certain threshold of contact such as the number of reviews they have completed in the DL. The SIG Restructuring Task Force continues to look at redefining what makes a SIG. We are continuing to create more options for SIGs to use open access for conference proceedings.

4.0 Publications Report from Pubs Advisor and Pubs Board Co-Chair (Ioannidis, Konstan)

Yannis Ioannidis presented an update on current activities surrounding ACM publications. The role of the Publications Board is to function as the governing authority over ACM’s journals, magazines, ICPS and Tech Packs as well as the Digital Library and all publications policies. The board mandates the highest quality publications considering efficient cost, effective printing, publishing policies for content quality, selection process integrity and content presentation. The board is made up of a broad representation of areas of publishing with numerous committees: Business Working Group, Conferences, Ethics and Plagiarism, Digital Library, Technology, New Publications and Magazines. The SGB provides a liaison between the Pubs Board and the SIGs to report on publications policy discussions concerning such matters as peer review standards and plagiarism.

There are notable connections between the SGB and the Pubs Board. There is an appointed SGB Liaison to the Pubs Board and the Joint Conferences Committee. The SGB is involved in major policy decisions and pub board studies. There are several pubs board members coming from the SGB. There are also Pubs Board links to the sphere of SIG Conferences such as developing policies on peer review standards, confidentiality and plagiarism. However, there are not often direct links between the SIGs and Publications outside of SIG representatives on EiC search committees, the input of SIG opinion on new journals and editorial reappointments.

At our last meeting the Publications Board reported that it is developing a link between conferences and journals and requested feedback from the SGB. A white paper on conference-journal relationships and mechanisms and policies for best of both worlds was created. The reaction from the SGB was mostly positive, some negative. Concerns involve quality, potential monopolies and philosophical differences in process and purpose.

There are 3 categories of approaches: 1. Conference-first, 2. Journal-first and 3. Any-First/Journal-Integrated. White paper principles include 1. Evaluation criteria (impact, accuracy/completeness and correctness) 2. Review process (Quality, quantity and structure) 3. Content & Format (no artificial limits, info on rich content).

Proceedings of the ACM (PACM) would be a journal series with a subseries publishing proceedings of conferences with journal style reviewing the goal of which is to unify by journalizing quality ACM conference publications. It is proposed that it would be governed by a 7 member steering committee which would include 4 SIG nominees, 2 members appointed by the Pubs Board as well as a Chair, also appointed by the Pubs Board, all with 2 year rotating terms. SIGs can propose their own subseries with full control within basic principles.

Many details remain under discussion. The September 2015 CACM editorial will be “Should Conferences Meet Journals and Where?” with pro and con viewpoints.  There are plans for a survey as well. This is also on the agenda for the upcoming Pubs Board Meeting. Early feedback is supportive of replacing journal-integrated option with PACM.

Regarding an update on Open Access activities, the board will continue to examine gold OA journals popping up on CS topics. The creation of ACM gold OA umbrella journal has been suspended.  The final policy details on the posting of accepted articles on arXiv or other non-commercial reps will be announced in September. A proposal is in development for “sponsored” proceedings (discounted OA proceedings) including related prices. The board has created workflows for compliance with government mandates which captures funding info, open articles and CHORUS. Focus continues on monitoring usage of open TOCs, open Surround proceedings and Author-izer.

The session closed with an update on other Pubs activities such as DL improvements with searching and author-handling; refining archiving and labeling of data and code for reproducibility; investigating article and publication metrics; exploring concept of “author roles” to recognize specific contributions.


  • There were a number of questions about quality shorter papers (and the idea that a community might want such papers as a way to get results in easily digestible form quickly). Page limits need to be clear as well as the issues around "short papers" and that some conference content might go into an "adjunct proceedings" or other volume and not PACM, and that the distinction is the community's judgment about the archival nature (whether it would be appropriate to re-publish, etc.) and the quality of the review process and venue.
  • Should there be standards (or just proposal/review) for quality of reviewer assignment?  Can students review PACM articles?  Do we permit bidding processes or unsupervised keyword-based assignment?
  • Definite concerns about the "ownership and revenue" model.
  • Should we consider a "conference selects top k% of papers" model to allow conferences to be less selective, yet have a "section" that makes it into PACM 
  • Concern about losing the naming and therefore the branding of the proceedings; how do we keep the identity and reputation of a conference that has built equity
  • Question of whether 'rebuttal' constitutes a second cycle; perhaps promulgate best practices for two-cycle conference review; and concern that some conferences don't think they can add a second review cycle
  • A need to clarify that PACM is an option for communities, and that nobody is being forced this direction; SIGs can and should consider whether their goal is faster, lightweight, and even more preliminary and open proceedings.
  • Interest/concern in what happens with co-sponsored proceedings (co-sponsored with non-ACM organizations).
  • Why do we put a lower bound of 3 reviewers per paper, when there are prestigious journals, like Nature, that allow papers to be accepted with 2 reviewers? Ioannidis emphasized that the key point is the principle of quality and that absolute numbers are not as important as long as quality can be demonstrated.
  • Would moving towards PACM push us towards conferences that are "dry" and lose the nature of a conference as a meeting? I don't think there is much danger of that, but having a couple of sentences that stress what we have in mind would help.
  • Would moving towards a conference proceedings that is a journal make us look not serious, given that we've spent all these years convincing deans and provosts that conferences are more important than journals? And if the former become journals as well, will we have to start comparing transactions with PACM, journals to journals?

5.0 SIG Structure Task Force (Madden)

Patrick Madden presented a follow-up on the continuing discussion on efforts to explore ideas on the value of the SIG Structure and to ask key questions. He gave a review for the new SIG Chairs. The ACM leadership sponsored a retreat where they looked at a number of things, the structure of the SIGs being one of them.  As a result, a task force was created.  The group worked together about a year ago and came up with a sort of rough draft of a re-rendering of how we define SIGs. There were key questions although this is an ongoing process, with more work to be done.

We asked what sort of value the SIGs provide to Membership. We are aware that SIG membership is declining so what is causing this. We are not offering potential members what they want. We may force SIGs to conform to one model of success.  We may not be helping SIG leverage the way we want them to. They may not be reaching communities that we want them to reach.  We have asked how bureaucracy reliant are the SIGs and how is this interfering with efficiency?

We looked at the differences in the sizes of the SIGs, from very large, medium sized and small SIGs. About half of the SIGs are small SIGs. We looked at establishing criteria for SIGs. Our larger SIGs have at least 1,000 members, at least 1 million dollars in the bank and put on 200 conferences.  Smaller SIGs roughly $1 million fund plus conferences.  Small SIGs are thought to have mainly 1 conference and a few hundred members or less.  They would be a Special Interest Steering Committee.

Hopefully the SIGs have been able to familiarize themselves with the recommendations of the Task Force. We are seeking your feedback after talking with a number of people.  There is support for the idea that there are different kinds of SIGs and they should be handled differently. Some of the pushback we have had was from one SIG who felt like they were going to be reorganized but it’s important to realize that the focus is to look for opportunities to improve the experience of the small SIGs.

The first round of the report was ratified by EC and Council. There will be substantial changes for the SIGs and the matter deserves more thought. We will continue to collaborate on this and encourage SIG leaders to get involved. Madden indicated that an SGB EC task force would be formed to continue this work. His plan was to have representation from small, mid and large SIGs.

Another area needing change is the viability process. The current criteria does not apply to all SIGs.

Our goal is to revisit these objectives in January and present final recommendations at the next SGB meeting. Ideally the basic structure will remain and buy-in will come.

Questions and comments from the group:

  • In order to consider the definition of a SIG we need to look at the definition of a member.  In our case we have about 440 members who paid $25 but we have several thousand contributors in the community as defined by social media. 
  • If we maximize the benefits to membership and communicate this membership will increase.
  • Membership is decreasing and it is difficult to stop this – I wonder if we should discontinue membership altogether. 
  • There are different types of members who believe in the mission of the SIG and find the greatest benefit to joining is seeing the mission advanced.
  • I think the fundamental question is to look at the purpose of good works.  Perhaps it does cost ACM overhead to fund these smaller SIGs but if they are contributing to the good works, I think we need to include that point of view as well.
  • I think that the division of SIGs by membership size works.
  • Our SIG offers online membership and we feel the online membership needs to be represented.
  • SIGs or similar groups who contribute to the high caliber publications in the Digital Library should be recognized
  • There was a question about clarification on the problem that the Task Force is reacting to. The problem isn’t put out in a quantifiable way.  If there is a burden, what is the burden? Is it is money, where is the money problem?  I am not seeing it.  Are we looking for a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist?
  • It isn’t a matter of a burden to anyone at ACM but because we use a single yardstick to measure the viability of all SIGs and the restructuring discussion is figuring out is if that makes sense. Because small SIGs doesn’t fare very well in the review.  So we are interested in using a different way to assess, so some of the advantage is to the smaller SIGs.
  • One of the things that is happening here in this discussion and others is that the parts of the report that are really fantastic backtracking through conferences and other parts of this reports could be focused on the smaller SIGs we should go back and look at that the part that we agree on and then we can go back and look at what we can do to benefit the smaller SIGs.
  • I would like to confirm what was already said how part of the issue as that the burden that was on some of the small SIGs is currently under the model you have to do all these things that the small SIGs doesn’t want to do. So this will make it easier for the small SIGs. It was my understanding the all the current SIGs would be grandfathered in with paying SIG status. That none of the current SIGs would be changed into a steering committee. It was my understanding that this had been agreed upon. So, for everyone in the room, your SIG status wouldn’t change. It would be mainly for new SIGs who would enter as a steering committee which could evolve into a SIG if applicable.

Madden closed the discussion with a request that people interested in contributing to the task force contact him.

6.0 Viability Review SIGLOG

Prakash Panangaden gave an overview of the activities of the SIG. Member benefits include conference discounts at logic related conferences; community building through website, social media feeds and newsletter; advocating for the role of logic in computer science education; awards; travel grants for students as a way to stimulate student participation). Achievements include LICS, ACM-IEEE flagship conference; taking steps to encourage diversity and making SIGLOG more welcoming to women; website and social media presence and a large community beyond actual SIGLOG membership.  Education committee is in active discussion and is diverse with members from Europe, India, Brazil and North America; actively pursuing a new major award.

2016 Projected balance approx. 11K which is 14K below the required fund balance. We expect to reach the target balance in 3-4 years.  Spending has been conservative while membership is being developed. Once the balance has reached the minimum, initiatives with student travel grants will begin.

The reach includes 275 members, well above our original target of 200. Diversity is reflected in mostly European members. Social media follows fluctuates, currently at 175 Facebook and 59 Twitter. Subscribers to the monthly bulletin is at 2474.

Goals include increasing membership by showing community that SIGLOG is more than LICS. Also, create an award, cooperation agreements with more conferences and include community news in newsletter.

Recommendation: The SGB EC congratulates SIGLOG on their program performance and finds it viable to move out of initial transitional status. SIGLOG is granted full SIG status for the next 2 years.

Approval of the recommendation by the SGB.

6.2 Viability Review SIGMOBILE

Suman Banerjee gave an overview of the strengths and areas of opportunity with the SIG.  Strengths include a diverse set of strong conferences, each well recognized (MobiCom, MobiSys, MobiHoc, SenSys, Ubicomp) and 2 new conferences (PerDis and WUNET).  The SIG has established fund for community projects (MCRC). The Rockstar award and Test of Time award are new awards. The newsletter has been overhauled.  There are not conference talk videos available through SIGMOBILE’s YouTube channel.  The mobile-friendly ePub publications for all SIGMOBILE conferences are available on the ACM DL.

The SIG could improve engaging with the industry and relevant plans are in the works.  Plans for a magazine with a wider audience has been suspended pending viability studies. The SIG is examining whether too many conferences causes the community to be too spread-out.  The SIG continues to focus on keeping membership strong.

Recommendation: The SGB EC congratulates SIGMOBILE on their program performance and finds it viable to continue its status for the next 4 years.

Approval of the recommendation by the SGB.

6.3 Viability Review SIGUCCS

Mat Felthousen gave a review of the SIGs strengths and weaknesses beginning with the strengths of the SIG’s finances which have improved to the point that the fund balance has returned to pre-2010 levels.  The average surplus form the past two conferences, despite decreased membership and attendance has been $35K.  This could be attributed to an increase in exhibitor participation and an emphasis on fiscal responsibility during conference planning.

The SIG struggles to find volunteers to serve as leaders for the annual conference.  This is due to budget cuts for travel and conference spending as well as lower attendance industry-wide and a reduction of repeat attendance.

Recommendation: The SGB EC is pleased with the progress made by the SIGUCCS leadership since their last review. The SIGUCCS leadership should continue to evaluate their focus and think about their vision for the future. The SIG is viable to continue its status for the next 4 years.

Approval of the recommendation by the SGB.

7.0 Awards (Pancake)

ACM Awards committee Co-Chair, Cherri Pancake gave a presentation on “What Every SIG Chair Should Remember about ACM Awards” beginning with the question “are your members really being nominated for SIG awards?” People often assume key figures are being nominated – there is an opportunity for SIG leaders to be proactive with the nomination process. Leaders can suggest names of qualified nominators and direct them to guidance found at being mindful of key deadlines.  It is important to focus your SIG’s efforts within either a specific discipline of target specific career levels. Please refer to the “How to Nominate” page for an explanation on the criteria on evaluating candidates.

Pancake mentioned the prestigious Grace Murray Hopper Award which goes to an outstanding young computer professional of the year, on the basis of a single major technical or service contribution.  It is hard to imagine that there are no SIGs with a community of possible nominees worthy of recognition.

Another thing that SIG leaders can do is to encourage members early in their careers to become senior members after 5 years of membership.

Mid-career awards (after 10-20 years) that SIG leaders should be nominating members for include Distinguished Member awards which recognize contributions to computer science research, practice, education or policy.  The Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions to CS is for individuals or groups who have made significant humanitarian contributions through the use of computing.

Late career awards (over 20 years) include Distinguished Service Awards which recognize contributions to the computing community at large; the Kanellakis Theory & Practice Award for theoretical accomplishments that have had a significant and demonstrable effect on the practice of computing; Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award for new teaching methodologies, new curriculum and development, or significant contribution to ACM’s educational mission; Software System Award recognizes an Institution or individuals who developed a software system that has had a lasting influence on computing. Pancake encouraged SIG leaders to make at least one Fellows nomination from their member community.

The awards discussed have a deadline of November 30 which means there is time for leaders to find a candidate, contact a nominator and help identify endorser’s.  Fellow and Senior/Distinguished members deadlines are posted on ACMs website.  Recognizing SIG members is an important part of SIG leadership and now is a good time to find a candidate, contact a nominator and help identify endorsers.

8.0 Best Practices Groups

The meeting participants formed groups and collaborated on sharing feedback regarding SIG leadership development, innovative ways to use fund balances, interacting with leadership of sponsored and co-sponsored conferences, general communication with members and utilization of ACM SIG Services.

9.0 Best Practices Group Reporting

What is the most effective way your SIG develops volunteer leaders for conferences? For the SIG?


  • Conference pipeline
  • Develop list of conference opportunities
  • EC selects Program Chairs
  • Operational → technical Program chair → conference chair
  • Program Committee → Formalize Co- Program Chair → Co-conference chair
  • Program Subcommittees →Program chairs →Conference Chair
  • Stagger co-chairs
  • Transition track chairs →general chair

Conference and Organization:

  • Arm-twisting/guilt-tripping
  • Bring post-docs in early in career
  • Documentation
  • Establish community
  • Foster SIG-like structures within the organization
  • Identify junior members of community to join committee
  • Identify long-term attendees – invite to join committee
  • Join initiatives
  • Maintain list of volunteers that show promise
  • Mentoring
  • Move from junior positions
  • Open call for volunteers
  • Personal contacts
  • Promote senior members
  • Recruit early
  • Solicit committee members by email and social media
  • Standing committee →Committee chair →EC
  • Student volunteers → committee positions
  • Web – form to sign up new volunteers

What is the most innovative and/or effective way the SIG’s fund balance is being spent on conference programs and non-conference programs?

  • ACM-W
  • Award funding
  • Booth - travel to other conferences- raise awareness
  • Career conference for students
  • Childcare
  • Childcare/companion funding for conference attendees
  • Communications contractor
  • Contests
  • Department chair meeting
  • Diversity program
  • Face-to-face PC meetings (SIG pays)
  • Focused workshops on emerging areas
  • Fund grad students, underrepresented regions and women
  • Fund research
  • High school mentoring
  • Host breakfasts at conference – women in tech
  • Host mentoring workshops at conference
  • Host program at the conference for early career practitioner
  • Host student volunteers scholarships to conference
  • Media streaming
  • Mini-grant program for innovation
  • New educator’s workshop
  • New Faculty workshop at conference
  • Provide local chapter support
  • Scholarships for practitioners
  • Small conference committee with meetings
  • SRC
  • Student grants – developing countries
  • Student resource development
  • Student travel grants
  • Student volunteer endowment
  • Support Best Paper Winners to present in “developing countries”
  • Support network for community
  • Travel grants and scholarships
  • Waive contingency for conference
  • Webinars
  • Women in Theory group
  • Work in-progress workshops
  • Writing – mentoring workshops
  • Young Researcher – mentoring workshops

How does the SIG interact with the leadership of sponsored and co-sponsored conferences?

  • Board Reps
  • Chair of steering committee for conference on EC
  • Choose chairs of conference
  • Co-located with other events
  • Co-location with other SIG conferences
  • Conference chair reports to SIG EC regularly
  • Conference management committee includes steering chair from each conf.
  • Constant communication between EC Rep and conference steering chairs
  • Create guidelines document for organizers but give lots of freedom
  • EC liaison for conference
  • EC liaison on steering committee
  • Joint meetings between EC and Conference advisory committee
  • Reps on EC that work with sponsored conferences
  • Serve on PC/Steering Committee
  • SIG chair meets w/SC and General Chairs
  • SIG EC member joins conference committee calls
  • SIG leaders serve on SC
  • SIG Reps on steering committee and steering committee reps on SIG EC
  • Site selectin committee
  • Steering Committee Governance document

What is the most effective way the SIG communicates with its members? Newsletters, listserv, other…. Is it effective?

  • Blogs
  • Blogs- aggregated (Theory blogs)
  • Business meeting
  • Catting list-serve
  • Conference website
  • Conference website has “looking for jobs” section
  • Conferences
  • Distribute SIG brochures at conferences
  • E-mail
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • List serve
  • Moderated list with perks for moderator
  • Monthly mailing
  • Newsletter (Archival & Newsy)
  • Person in charge of social media
  • Re-tweet information from news and community
  • Social media
  • Town Hall Meetings
  • Town Hall Meetings with food
  • Twitter
  • Website

Which ACM HQ resource does your SIG utilize the most?

  • Award services
  • Chapters
  • Conference liaison
  • Conference scheduling app.
  • Conference services
  • Finance
  • Hotel negotiation
  • IS
  • Pubs
  • SIG liaison
  • Site selection
  • Student travel reimbursement
  • Web domain
  • Web hosting

10.0 SGB EC Administrative Report (Madden)

Patrick Madden presented an update from the SGB Executive Council. At the last election, Renee McCauley, Will Tracz and Simon Harper were elected to the EC. Jeanna Neefe Matthews was elected as an SGB Council Representative.  The SIG Structure Task Force committee has had a shift in volunteers and we are focused on doing as much with that as possible.

10.1 SGB EC Administrative New Business (Madden)

Patrick Madden provided an update on the Pubs Boards initiative to look at data management innovations regarding how data is benchmarked, replicated, captured, measured and discussed. Madden explained that the SIGs are an ideal group to contribute to what the Pubs board is trying to do.

Patrick Madden adjourned the meeting.  The next meeting will be in held in Chicago on Monday, March 21, 2016.