Minutes of the SGB Meeting - March 11, 2001

1.0 Welcome, Introductions and Review Agenda

Notkin welcomed the attendees and began the meeting at 9:00 am. Each of the participants introduced themselves.

1.1 Approve minutes from October'00 SGB Meeting

Notkin indicated that the minutes for the October SGB'00 meeting were sent out in November and based on the lack of comments he assumed that the SGB unanimously approved them.

1.2 Review of Open SGB Positions for Upcoming Elections

Chesnais and Notkin reminded the SGB that there were 3 member-at-large positions and 2 Council positions needed to be filled for the July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2003 term. Rick Furuta, Stephen Hayne, David Notkin and Mark Scott Johnson were all scheduled to finish their terms. The positions were outlined.

Member-at-Large Positions:
SGB EC Vice-Chair for Operations - Presides over SGB and SGB EC Meetings, including SGB EC conference calls.
SGB EC Vice-Chair for SIG Development - Identify emerging technical areas, oversee transitional SIGs. The SGB Information Director, SGB committees, and SIG Liaisons to ACM Boards, other than those who are members of the SGB EC, will report through the VC Development.
SGB EC Secretary - Act as elections advisor, policy advisor, and financial and budgetary advisor.
Conference Advisor - Oversee issues related to conferences as directed by the SGB.
Large SIG Advisor - Act as liaison for large SIG issues.
Small SIG Advisor - Act as liaison for small SIG issues.
ACM Council Representative
SGB Council Representative - Act as liaison for SGB with ACM Council.

1.3 Review of Voting Practices

Notkin reminded the attendees that voting would be conducted via weighted voting if necessary. Weighted voting would not be necessary for issues unanimous or close. Any SGB member could call for weighted voting if they did not agree that a motion had an obvious outcome. The number of votes that each SIG was entitled to could be found in the back-up materials.

2.0 Publications Reports

2.1 Newsletter Issues and the Importance of Keeping on Schedule

Cohoon strongly urged the SGB to propose ideas on new publications. He explained that it was vital to their professional efforts as well as the health of the Digital Library. He suggested that anyone interested submit brief pre-proposal summarizing topics, personnel, and timeliness to Lorrie Cranor, Vice Chair of the Publications Board. Possible Transaction subjects include: Quantum Computing, Molecular Computing, Computational Biology, Natural Language Processing, Speech Processing, Computational Linguistics, Theoretical Computer Science and the Best of ACM. Possible Type II Publications include Online Standards, ACM Letters and Information Retrieval, natural Language Processing and Speech Processing.

Cohoon reminded the SGB Leaders that they'd agreed to the Rights and Responsibilities during their last meeting so they need to follow them. They've got an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to publish newsletters on time. Missing issues are a major time sink. There is a constant barrage of librarians requesting missing issues. Questions generate interrupts to both ACM staff and volunteers. To ensure responsible behavior he proposed that a SIG two or more issues behind in it's publication schedule be automatically placed in transition. He suggested that this go into effect 3 months from the date. Members of the SGB were supportive of this suggestion.

Motion: Move that a SIG 2 or more issues behind in its publication schedule be automatically placed in transition. This policy would be placed in effect June 11, 2001
Cohoon, Cytron(22,2,3)

2.2 Conference Manuscript Tracking

Pubs Board Chair, Rick Snodgrass reported that ACM runs over 80 conferences a year. Each conference program chair has the responsibility to work out their own submission handling system (manual or computer-based). There are at least two dozen systems available. Snodgrass was Program Chair for VLDB'01. There were 190 submissions and they used the Microsoft Conference Management tool (CMT). This allowed for web-based submission, reviewing, reviewer collaboration and automatic reviewer assignment. CMT was hosted at Microsoft with a contact person available full-time. Some customization is permitted such as additional reports.

Snodgrass reviewed the requirements for an ACM conference manuscript system: robust, full-features, supported, working for small and large conferences, enhanced over time and very useful with a full-time person and remote hosting. One possibility for this would be to use CMT.

Motion: The SGB requests that the EC choose a conference manuscript tracking tool, arrange access, support and enhancement, and develop a business plan, within the next three month.
Snodgrass, Hayne

Snodgrass discussed the publications rights and responsibilities policy which was approved by the SGB last October and the Publications Board last November. The policy enumerates rights that ACM guarantees to readers, authors, reviewers, editors and program chairs.

Editors and Program chairs can expect ACM to:

Provide a clerical and software infrastructure that supports tracking submissions and computing system administration for journals, transactions, magazines, newsletters and proceedings.

Motion: The SGB requests that the SGB EC review the rights and responsibilities policy and bring to the fall 2001 SGB meeting a list of those rights that are not currently being guaranteed along with proposals for how to ensure those rights.
Snodgrass, Wiehl

3.0 SGB EC Recommendation for Conducting SIG Elections

Notkin reported that the SGB EC had discussed an electronic election process. Pat Ryan put together information to allow the SGB EC to make a recommendation to the SGB. The SGB EC was informed that ACM used an outside firm to administer an electronic election process for the 2000 ACM general election. They experienced problems initially and as each of those problems were addressed the process got smoother. The ACM election return did not increase at all -- there was a total return of 11.48%: 69.51% of the ballots returned were votes cast via paper and 30.49% were cast electronically. Paper ballots and candidates' bios/statements were mailed to all members.

The SGB EC considered the serious issues related to security and auditing. They realized that many ACM members are concerned about online voting. Notkin reported that the SGB EC agreed that utilizing an outside firm was most appropriate. The cost would be approximately $75K. Normally the election costs $25K excluding postage. The SGB EC suggested that 2-3 of the larger SIGs do a trial run.

Notkin reported that the SGB EC supported any SIGs that wished to utilize an outside firm to run an electronic election. Those leaders with interest were asked to contact Pat Ryan at ACM headquarters.

4.0 Membership Discussion

4.1 Update from MAB

Dave Arnold, Chair of the Membership Activities Board provided an update on membership activity. Membership numbers are down. SIG membership has gone down 57% in the last 10 years and is projected to decrease an additional 30% over the next 5 years. More worryingly the industry is growing and the organization's membership is shrinking. Even more worryingly there is an economic downturn going on.

There is good and bad news. The bad news is the falling member participation including students. The good news is the financial reserve and stable or growing event participation but where do we go next?

ACM needs to map membership benefits to individuals. We need to define motivations and utilize that information to restructure the organization for the long term.

A discussion during the November MAB meeting identified a number of potential new directions:

  • ACM member lite alternatives and cosigns. Benefits would include CRC, profiles, e-mail, Technews, electronic CACM and Ubiquity.
  • Chapter Support mechanisms. There would need to be clearer chapter benefits and support mechanisms for events, TMP and calendar, member database and e-mail aliases, subscription collection, budgets, job bank, web-link and site hosting and model chapter results. For chapter volunteers there could be training and induction at conferences, on-line training materials, SGB/SIG identified leadership for chapter management and continuity, monitoring feedback and appreciation.
  • Individuals within Institutional members. Non-individual benefits would include CRC postings, PD credits, X-lite members and recognition.
  • Institutional members. Individual benefits would include ACM lite memberships, profiles, professional development, DL, attendance at events, publications.
  • Student transition. We need to find out where the students are studying, when do they graduate, pre-dated deal for transitional years to help track addresses, transition to local professional/SIG chapter on first employment and transition rates.
  • Simplification of member structures. Simplification to align motives with categories, fewer categories/less confusion, alignment of practices on economic region rates, coupled fees of ACM/SIG/Chapter, marketing member plus options.
  • CACM decoupling costing . This is a very sensitive issue. Not all members now get paper CACM. The cost is a large proportion of dues. The paper version brings substantial advertising revenue. A costing analysis is needed.

The MAB has a critical issue initiative underway regarding membership and subscriptions. There are several timescales here. In the short term what can we can do better with the current services/benefits to target marketing. In the medium term we can survey members to look for new initiatives and in the long term is there a better ACM to work to?

Further work is required by the Boards. Background research will be needed regarding costing for benefits changes, discussion with other interested parties (EC, council, Chapters), additional information requirements (graduation day for students) and additional office procedures like membership cards.

4.2 Working Groups

The SGB split into 5 working groups and was given 30 minutes to brainstorm on membership issues. Those groups were titled: Students and Transitioning, Broader View of Who is an ACM Member, Community, Business Models and Super SIGs. Each group was asked to take notes, present their ideas and provide an action item.

4.3 Working Group Reports

Students and transitioning
Group Facilitator: Jim Cohoon

  • More effort is needed for students who will become practitioners rather than academicians.
  • Consider giving all students one free SIG membership (maybe this should be done for all members)
  • ACM should make press releases on a regular basis that will encourage broadcast mediums to cite the news item (ala AMA and the New England Journal of Medicine). We want ACM to become a brand item.
  • Even high school students need to have ACM become part of their consciousness
  • ACM as a whole must raise the importance of this issue
  • Make use of local chapters as resources. Belief that many local chapter attendees are not ACM and SIG aware.
  • Mentoring activities by faculty members and practitioners can lead to ACM and indirectly SIG awareness
  • Establish an honor society to recognize excellence.
  • Encourage conferences to offer some sort of free attendance to local students.
  • Encourage use of local students as help. And encourage conference to have some sort of student track.
  • SGB needs a data session to present the results of survey data. This material also needs to be online for ready access.
  • Get students hooked on ACM Front Page and the DL while they are students. The implication is that the DL and Front Page needs the right stuff to establish the addiction.

Arnold reported that ACM has done student surveys and has gathered other information that would be helpful in further discussing student transitioning. He suggested that Lillian Israel be invited to the next SGB meeting to continue the discussion on encouraging student participation and transitioning in ACM.

Action: Baglio to place discussion of students and transitioning on August SGB agenda and invite Israel to participate.

Broader View of Who is an ACM member
Group Facilitator: Ron Cytron

View: Those who create assets as well as those who use assets of ACM and its SIGs are essentially members of the ACM community, and should be recognized as such.

Unbundling: Instead of offering an ACM membership as a package of the same service and cost for all people, define an ACM membership to be essentially zero-cost and zero-service. The burden is then on ACM and SIGs to craft packages that are attractive to the members.


  • The community we serve far exceeds those currently recognized as members; it is in everyone's best interest to recognize the larger community. This includes not only those whom we currently recognize as members, but also those whom we currently do not, such as casual users of the DL and attendees of our conferences and tutorials.
  • The price and services offered for a base ACM membership are currently not attractive.
  • Much of what people want (e-mail forwarding address) can be delivered nearly for free.
  • It's not clear that there exists a uniform set of services that all members will want. (Lillian Israel said this-there are diverse needs out there)
  • Participation in some ACM or SIG activity would carry a (very small) tax that registers the participant as a member of ACM. For example, a conference or tutorial participant's fee could include $1 (one dollar) that would register the participant as an ACM member.
  • Even casual browsers of the DL, who may currently neither subscribe to DL nor be members of ACM, would be prompted to join (at no cost) at each DL access.
  • Institutional members, who get no-cost access to DL, would still be required to register as members (at no extra cost).
  • A member stays a member unless a year passes with no ACM or SIG activity (no access to DL, no participation in conference, etc). When they leave, their e-mail forwarding would go away!

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.

Group Facilitator: Stuart Feldman

One of the main reasons for joining a group, e.g. an ACM SIG, is to be part of a community. (Not trivially circular assertion.) Some aspects are

  • Value of membership to the individual psychologcial (self-esteem, awards, sense of belonging, rubbing shoulders with luminaries; practical (prestige, improved CV and professional value, awards and officerships, national/funding impacts)
  • Value of individual to the organization (increased membership size can increase weight in other contexts - visibility, press, etc.), and thence increased value back to the individual members.

One change is that the Web devalues simple information (conference dates, preprints) but revalues evaluative and complex information.

Another problem is that there are perverse financial disincentives: many employers pay conference fees but not memberships, so the individual ends up subsidizing the employer.

There are multiple, overlapping but not nested, communities, e.g.

  • SIG-x, Conf-x, Field-x, WebNewsgroup-x

Many people feel a fuzzy sense of belonging to a general technical area ("operating systems") or a repetitive attendee at a conference (ASPLOS), but fewer seem to feel a loyalty as a SIG member. Crucial Question: How to bring people who are in Conf-x or Field-x to feel a sense of community with Field-x.

It is useful to distinguish roles of a SIG, as a service organization (guarantor of continuity in conference quality and effectiveness) and as a community.

  • If service, need to keep a sense of concern and ownership over time.
  • If community, should aim to grow membership and increase interactions and the perceived value of the membership (including more awards and titles).

Business Models:
Group Facilitator: Stephen Hayne

Anytime someone new "touches" ACM and SIGs (i.e. conferences, DL, etc.) we should give them a membership, or perhaps what is known as "registration". This would help us track some of their demographic info and data mine their interests for potential SIG involvement. Is an intro/hook for different layers of ACM/SIG membership, i.e. ACM lite, or SIG only.

Allow joining SIG as an ACM member but with no ACM services (SIG only). Register as above and encourage joining ACM with menu of services.

Create alliances with other services that give significant (!) discounts to ACM members. An example was the insurance IEEE members have access to.

Price the DL more aggressively (i.e. archival pricing, tiered access) and profit share more deeply with the SIGs. Data mine to discover if the DL as well as institutional adoption is at the root of the decline of perceived SIG value.

A couple of these seem to overlap nicely with other comments.

Super SIGS
Group Facilitator: Alain Chesnais

  • Economies of Scale
    • Allocation
  • Identity
    • Control of Assets
  • Affinity Groups
    • Social Issues
    • Emerging Technologies
  • Academic Professional
    • Society or general interest group
  • Vertical vs. Horizontal SIGs
  • Look at overlap statistics
  • Cross marketing opportunities
  • Focus: Does this scale?
  • Don't just look at grouping what is already there
  • Tie the FOCI to ACM's mission
  • Invisible clusters
  • Evolution vs. revolution
    • Proceedings to other SIGs
    • Common board meetings

Action Item: Set up a forum for SIGs challenges by new allocation to identify common areas of interest

4.4 SIG Membership Actions

The membership brainstorming generated the actions listed above.

4.5 Additional Agenda Item - Discounts for SIG activities for SIG members and ACM members

Judy Brown of ACM SIGGRAPH suggested that the SGB discuss SIGs being allowed to give larger discounts to their own SIG members than to ACM-only members. In the example of discounts for an ACM SIG conference, the following ACM rule applies: fee for ACM+SIG member <= fee for ACM-only member <= fee for SIG-only member <= nonmember fee

She indicated that not allowing SIGs to give lower prices to their own members than to any other ACM member actively discourages SIG membership. While still wanting to encourage ACM membership, this scheme further encourages SIG membership. The following bylaw change was suggested:

Fee for ACM+SIG member <= fee for SIG-only member <= fee for ACM-only member <= nonmember fee

Brown suggested that this algorithm applied to all SIG products and events. Some members of the SGB felt that ACM having the discount was important. ACM is providing a lot in background. Cohoon responded that this was a very low-level view. Wiehl suggested that the fee structure have no explicit ordering between SIG only and ACM only members.

Fee for ACM+SIG member <= fee for ACM only member <= non member-and-ACM+SIG member <= fee for SIG only member <= non member, with no explicit ordering between SIG only and ACM only members.

Motion: Move to amend Bylaw 6, Section 6 as follows:
Fee for ACM+SIG member <= fee for ACM only member <= non member,
and fee for ACM+SIG member <= fee for SIG only member <= non member,
with no explicit ordering between SIG only and ACM only members.
Weihl, Sethi(21,2,3)

Action: Chesnais to bring SGB request for change to bylaw 6 section 6 regarding fees to ACM EC.

5.0 VIP Tour of ACM1 Expo

The SGB was given time to view the exhibit hall at the ACM1 Exposition held at the San Jose Convention Center.

6.0 ACM Update

6.1 ACM CEO Report

White reported that he was working with the EC looking at the long-term health and model of ACM. He will report in detail during the next SGB meeting. White introduced Jeff Grove, ACM's Director of Public Policy.

6.2 ACM Policy Office

Grove explained that the mission of the public policy office was to make sure we are communicating to members what is going on in Washington regarding public policy developments important to ACM. In addition the office will actively work on ACM's policy agenda and work as a valuable contributor on public policy process. Grove and White are working with the appropriate volunteer leadership to craft a public policy agenda and will share that with all ACM Boards.

6.3 Professional Development Program

Gordon Davies and Peter Denning reported on ACM's professional development programs. ACM is committed to a high quality program with 2 main sources: conference tutorials and partnerships with quality providers. Possible commission of tutorials will be considered at a later date.

The intent is to work with SIGs, build on what is already being done, produce a digitized version of tutorials plus added value. ACM will try to utilize more than one company and consider tutorials from conferences and special sessions. These would be advanced specialist course; medium level courses with a possible general demand and lower level courses that will be of interest to a wider audience. They intend to experiment with on line query processing, introduction to HCI and Java for high school teachers.

Davies reviewed offerings from other organizations involved with this type of program including American Institute of Chemical Engineers, IEEE, ASME and SAE. E suggested that ACM create a committee to take responsibility to approve courses and make them available nationally.

Major issues to be discussed are the initial funding of the experiment, pricing policy, royalties, copyright issues, marketing, distribution and evaluation. SIG leaders were asked to provide input to Davies via e-mail.

7.0 Proposal from SIGCPR

Fred Niederman put forth a proposal on behalf of SIGCPR regarding the new allocation. The SIGCPR leadership was very concerned that the new allocation would reduce the SIG fund balance to $0 within the next 3 years. He proposed that for three years the allocation of SIGCPR be frozen at the sum of $3000.

During these three years, SIGCPR would agree to:

  1. Investigate potential avenues for expansion such that the standard minimum allocation of $15,000 will be realized.
  2. Investigate potential merger with another SIG such that both parties benefit, that the annual conference is retained, and the content of Computer Personnel continues to have an outlet.
  3. Investigate the potential for leaving ACM and affiliating with another society, such as AIS, and
  4. Discuss with the SIG board to consider making a $3000 annual allocation per year for SIGCPR a permanent exception to the minimum allocation ruling.

Niederman explained that SIGCPR is one of, if not the oldest special interest group in ACM. It has an historic and unique role within the organization. It is the only group that targets the nature of computer-related work and workers -- a key ingredient in socio-technical systems.

SIGCPR over the past decade has conducted annual conferences that have generated an operating profit while providing for the SIG allocations of those years. These conferences have developed a small but very loyal following.

It is clear that with the current minimum allocation of $15,000, SIGCPR will be completely bankrupt within 10 years (probably more like 4 years). Rather than wait for this eventuality, it is preferable for all concerned to act now to create a stable future organization.

As the approximate amount paid in most years, $3000 is a reasonable temporary allocation for the group while other options are explored.

It is reasonable to expect SIGCPR to consider means of expansion. Workforce issues are clearly highly publicized and in the forefront of policy decisions. This is, however, an area of much controversy at times. Interest groups such as ITAA seem to be very successful at providing conferences targeted to application of anecdotal knowledge but there seems to be much less interest in developing new knowledge among practitioners and computer scientists in this area. Nevertheless, there are often opportunities available when the right approach is taken.

It is reasonable to consider potential merger with another SIG group. Several groups would seem to have a potential common interest including SIGMIS, SIGGROUP, and SIGWEB. A three-year time frame should suffice for carrying out these discussions.

It is also reasonable to consider that the shift in emphasis among SIG groups may mean that there just is no place for SIGCPR as currently constituted. Rather than drain resources from other SIG programs, it may be possible to effect a win-win change of affiliation to another society constituted differently and with different aims to everyone's benefit.

Finally, it may be that providing a singular exception to SIGCPR -- particularly in light of 1) that personnel issues cuts across the interests of almost all the SIGS. But we are the only ones who specifically focus on it. Thus we make it our business to look at something which is in danger of being "everyone's business so it is no one's business" and 2) its long history with ACM -- from the minimum allocation would provide continued existence of the program without unduly burdening the overall SIG program. This is a matter for the SIG chairs to decide, of course, but may be aided by observation of the effects of the new allocation system overall.

Motion: Move to propose that SIGCPR's allocation be frozen at $3,000 for the next 3 years.
(Niederman, Cohoon)
Motion tabled until next SGB meeting

Several leaders voiced concern regarding the new allocation method. Those SGB leaders were reminded that the allocation review, recommendations and final decision was made by their fellow SIG Chairs during the October'00 meeting. All of the back-up for that meeting along with the resulting minutes are posted on the web-site. All SIG Chairs were encouraged to review those documents.

Action: Baglio to place following motion on SGB agenda for August: Move to propose that SIGCPR's allocation be frozen at $3,000 for the next 3 years.
(Niederman, Cohoon)
Motion tabled until next SGB meeting

8.0 Program Reviews


Ephraim Glinert, the SIGCAPH Chair, presented the SIGCAPH's program review. Glinert highlighted the activities of the past year: their newsletter appears on a regular bases as scheduled, the SIGCAPH research conference on assistive technologies (ASSETS) which was started in 1994 and is held every 2 years is thriving. Their volunteer pool has grown and the SIGCAPH fund balance is positive and appears to be reasonably stable and satisfactory.

Glinert reported that ASSET'00 was a big success, and appears to have come out in the black, although the books are not yet closed. They had a total of 90 registrants, which was a 50% increase over ASSETS'98. Planning for ASSETS'02 is underway. The event will be held in Edinburgh and Chaired by Vicki Hanson of IBM TJ Watson Research Center. The Program chair is Julie Jacko from Georgia Tech. ACM HQ is currently in negotiation with the SIG and conference leaders hotel of choice.

SIGCAPH has submitted a full slate for the spring election. SIGCAPH has decided to increase their dues slightly in FY'02 to better reflect the current actual cost of services provided and to prevent future erosion of their fund balance.

Motion: Move to continue SIGCAPH in its current status as a full-service SIG for the next 4 years.
Berenbaum, Cytron


Larry Rowe, the SIGGMM Chair, presented the program review for SIGMM. The SIG mission is to provide a forum for researchers, engineers, and practitioners in all aspects of multimedia computing, communication, storage and applications.

The SIG co-sponsors a 5-7 day annual conference, which includes tutorials, workshops, posters, a doctoral program and demos. The paper acceptance rate for this conference is less than 20%. Best Paper Awards are distributed. The co-sponsorship breaks down as follows: 75% SIGMM, 15% SIGGRAPH and 10% SIGCOMM. Attendance averages about 250 people. The last few conferences have helped the fund balance grow to $97,000.

SIGMM also cooperates with several conferences including SPIE/IS&T MMCN, IDMS and NOSSDAV.

ACM publishes the ACM Multimedia Systems Journal, a joint publication with Springer/Verlag.

SIGMM is facing some challenges. There is competition for conference attendees as every conference includes multimedia topics and IEEE is making efforts to establish a conference. Membership numbers are on the decline but the bigger problem is the core members. The SIG leaders are developing their volunteer structure for the future.

Motion: Move to continue SIGMM's current status as a conference SGI for the next 4 years.
(Cohoon, Ebcioglu)

8.3 SIGOPS Program review

Bill Weihl, the SIGOPS Chair, presented the Special Interest Group on Operating Systems' program review. Excerpts from Weihl's written report follow:

The mission of SIGOPS is to provide a forum for people working on a broad spectrum of issues in operating systems research and development. "Operating systems" has always been construed extremely broadly; "systems" would in many ways be more appropriate, except they tend not to cover low-level hardware systems.

The primary activities of the SIG involve running conferences and workshops and publishing proceedings. SOSP is their flagship conference; it and OSDI (which SIGOPS cosponsors with USENIX) are widely recognized as the two premier conferences in the systems area.

The primary educational activity is to provide scholarships to help students attend SIGOPS conferences, particularly SOSP. The leaders have devoted significant SIGOPS funds to this for the last several SOSPs and have also raised money from other sources (mostly industry).

For a number of years, the SOSP proceedings have been published on CD-ROM as well as in paper form. In recent years, they've included recent years' proceedings on the CD-ROM as well as the current conference. In future years, they'd like to expand this, perhaps including recent European Workshop proceedings as well.

In community-building activities, they have recently:

  • Started a monthly email to members, with announcements (conferences, special issues of journals, etc.) and a "top site of the month" section.
  • At the last SOSP, they organized lunch for student volunteers with famous people at the conference. This was a huge hit. (Thanks to someone who mentioned this idea at a previous SGB meeting!)
  • Begun putting together a "systems web site" similar to the architecture site maintained at the University of Wisconsin. Their goal is to make SIGOPS the first stop for people looking for systems information on the web.

Self assessment
Overall, SIGOPS provides a great service to members and to the larger community of systems researchers and developers. They run the premier conferences and workshops in the field. At the same time, as discussed in the next section on challenges, their membership continues to decline. It is not clear what the right model is for continued existence.

There are two challenges facing SIGOPS: fragmentation of the field and declining membership.

Fragmentation seems like a natural progression of a field as it matures. SIGOPS has the advantage of breadth, which allows is to evolve and to embrace new areas (e.g., the web). At the same time, specialized groups tend to splinter off from SIGOPS. This has the potential to marginalize SIGOPS. So far this hasn't happened in a significant way, but there are signs of it in some areas (e.g., in some areas the papers that are submitted to SOSP tend to be the ones that couldn't get into the primary venue for that area). It may be better to let the mature areas splinter off while SIGOPS continues to move ahead with new areas, but there is the potential for a problem here that requires some attention to avoid.

Declining membership is a serious problem. The community of people who attend SOSP, the European Workshop, OSDI, and our other meetings is large and active. But many of those people are not SIGOPS members. The community served is much larger than the membership. By itself, this is not necessarily a problem, and in fact is probably typical of most such organizations. But the decline in membership is an ongoing problem that must either be reversed or must be addressed with a fundamental shift in our model of how they operate and why they exist.

The time is fast approaching for a serious discussion of our raison d'etre. Ten or twenty years ago, people joined SIGOPS because it gave them access to publications - both the newsletter and conference proceedings. In the last ten years, information has been disseminated via the Internet far faster and earlier than we could do it. As a result, fewer people join SIGOPS for the publications. Some may join because they get a discount on conference registrations; some may join because they still like getting a paper copy of conference proceedings; some may join because they like supporting what the SIG does. But joining is no longer necessary for people working in the field.

One possibility is to continue in the current mode. Membership will probably continue to decline, but financially this need not be a huge concern. Conferences tend to break even or make a small amount of money. In addition, they have a large fund balance. So they can continue to fund various initiatives, provide student scholarships, and so on. If they do this and membership continues to decline, we will eventually evolve into a community service organization. Another option is to aggressively recruit new members and to develop new offerings or enhancements to existing offerings to increase the value of being a member. Whether this will reverse the trend of declining membership, or merely slow it, is hard to predict.

Motion: Move to continue SIGOPS in its current status as a full-service SIG for the next 4 years.
Cohoon, Berenbaum

8.5 SIGSAC Program Review

Ravi Sandhu, the SIGSAC Chair, presented the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control's program review. Sandhu explained that SIGSAC's mission is to develop the information security profession by sponsoring high quality research conferences and workshops. In 1999 the SIG converted from multi-service to conference-only. Members receive conference proceedings in lieu of a SIG newsletter.

SIGSAC sponsors several conferences annually include the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), ACM Symposium on Access control Models and Technologies (SACMAT), and the ACM New Security Paradigms Workshop.

The CCS, founded in 1993 is held each November and is considered their flagship event. The conference has a broad scope includes tutorials and workshops and has been held throughout the world. The SIGSAC conferences feed into ACM's Transactions on Information and System Security (TISSEC). Several TISSEC editors have served as Program chairs for SIGSAC conferences.

Sandhu summarized that SIGSAC is in pretty good shape, they have a strong foundation on which to build for the next 4 years. They intend to strengthen their existing conferences (as opposed to starting new ones) and are considering new initiatives including professional education and awards.

Motion: Move to continue SIGSAC in its current status as a conference SIG for the next 4 years.
Cohoon, Wiehl


Rob Corless, the SIGSAM Chair, presented the program review. SIGSAM is a multi-service SIG with a quarterly bulletin and annual conference.

The latest issue of the bulletin was June 2000. Corless believes they can catch up before the June deadline to place them in transition for being behind by 3 issues.

The annual conference is called ISSAC and was held in Scotland in 2000. In 2001 it will be held in London. They had a 25% increase in paper submissions over 1999 in Vancouver. 2002 will be held in Lille, France.

The financial picture is healthy for the short term. As many of the SIGs are seeing they are experiencing a decline in membership but this has slowed over the last year.

Their new initiatives include two special-purpose mailing lists started by Chris Brown and Emil Volcheck. The leaders plan to include MathMA actively in SIGSAM and will put together a Scientific Advisory Panel for the SIGNUM legacy award by the end of April. They have approved travel awards for students for ISSAC 2001.

SIGSAM leaders will:

Review: Computer Algebra is broader and less cohesive than it was a victim of its success. Focus and filtering are the values a SIG gives.

Recruit: Personal contact, don't drop the ball: student and conference memberships.

Revitalize: New plans, MathML/XML, new generations of technology, new centre: The Ontario Research Centre for computer Algebra.

Motion: Move to continue SIGSAM's current status as a multi-service SIG for the next 4 years.
(Cohoon, Feldman)


David Notkin, the SIGSOFT Chair, presented the program review. SIGSOFT is very active. The group sponsors and co-sponsors 4-5 and cooperates with 9-10 conferences each year. Their newsletter is on time and includes 2 proceedings and 4 regular issues. They are financially strong and have strong volunteer development.

Volunteers outside of North America help SIGSOFT's international efforts. The FSE conference is co-sponsored every other year with the European Software Engineering Conference. SIGSOFT co-sponsors the International conference on Software Engineering, which alternates years inside and outside North America. The current and past EIC of TOSEM are Europeans.

SIGSOFT issues Outstanding Research and a Distinguished Service Awards each year. They have developed a student travel award program.

The SIGSOFT leadership has worked hard at managing the proliferation of software engineering conferences and workshops. They anticipate more collocation and a joint FSE.ESEC conference. They actively encourage the merging of overlapping workshops, which is necessary to allow for new events in emerging areas.

SIGSOFT is still losing members at a scary past. They do not have a good story about the interaction of the research and practitioner communities in software engineering. As Notkin told ACM Council in their showcase two ears ago, he believes SIGSOFT is a microcosm of ACM in this dimension. This has led to his personal interest in alternative membership models for SIGs.

SIGSOFT has been active in the issues surrounding software engineering as a profession. This is extremely complicated, political controversial an important. The leaders have helped craft ACM's policy that "licensing is premature and ineffective at this time".

Motion: Move to continue SIGSOFT's current status as a multi-service SIG for the next 4 years.
(Cohoon, Berenbaum)


Mike O'Donnell presented the SIGSOUND program review. SIGSOUND is an Electronic-only SIG. O'Donnell reported that SIGSOUND serves as a general-purpose communication channel. The group is interested in moving into a different status. They are considering developing an electronic newsletter and eventually a conference. The group needs to work on volunteer development before coming to the SGB with a formal proposal for a change in status. They currently have 268 subscribers.

Motion: Move to continue SIGSOUND's current status as an electronic-only SIG for the next 4 years.
Cohoon, Harramundanis

9.0 SGB EC Recommendations


Klein reported that he and Chesnais met in October with the SIGCUE leadership. It seems as though the group is on the right road to bring SIGCUE out of transition. As part of their revitalization, the new group needs to present a plan by May 1st, to meet the membership obligations of the past and provide a financial model, publication plans other activities and milestones. If there were no objections from the SGB, the SGB EC recommended that the new SIGCUE leadership be permitted to continue. There were no objections from the SGB.


Klein reported that the SGB EC had reviewed SIGBIO's plan for revitalization. The latest proposal was a fleshing out of what was proposed during the October SGB meeting: to effectively merge with SIGAPP. The SGB EC suggested having the SIGBIO fund balance placed into the SGB fund balance and earmarking it for a two-year period to be used for good work in the BIO area. The current leaders, SIGAPP or any group can apply for the funds from the SGB EC.

Klein reported that the SGB EC endorsed the dissolution of SIGBIO, handling membership obligations, reverting the fund balance to the SGB and earmarking it for a 2-year period for BIO related activities. With no objection from the SGB, this decision will be brought to Council for final dissolution. There was no objection from the SGB.

The SGB EC thanked the leadership of SIGBIO for their efforts in revitalization.


Klein reported that he'd been in contact with Jennifer Fajman, Chair of ACM SIGUCCS. SIGUCCS has had difficulty meeting their newsletter requirements over the past 3 years and has postponed their program review twice. The SIGUCCS EC recognizes there is a problem within their SIG and is planning to make some changes. They are seriously discussing moving to Conference SIG status. Their EC is meeting during the coming weekend. Fajman suggested and supported the idea of SIGUCCS being placed in transition at this time. The SIGUCCS EC intends to put together a revitalization plan. Fajman intends to discuss the change in status with other SIG leaders that have done the same (MICRO, SIM and SAC).

With the support of the SIGUCCS Chair, the SGB EC suggested that the SGB place SIGUCCS in transition and request a revitalization plan by May 1st.

Motion: Move to accept the SGB EC's recommendation to place SIGUCCS in transition and request a revitalization plan for May 1st.
Cohoon, Cytron

9.4 Weighted Voting Proposal

Cohoon requested that the SGB consider capping weighted voting at 5 votes. This would currently effect 3 of the SIGs.

Motion: Move to cap SGB weighted votes at 5.
Cohoon Glinert

The SGB believed that they were too close to the end of the meeting to make such an important decision.

Motion: Move to table motion regarding SGB weighted votes being capped at 5.
Cytron, Hayne

Action: Baglio to place weighted voting on August agenda.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.



  • Dave Arnold, MAB Chair
  • Donna Baglio, ACM Director of SIG Services
  • Alan Berenbaum, SGB EC Member-at-Large/SIGARCH Chair
  • Ben Brosgol, SIGAda Chair
  • Judy Brown, SIGGRAPH Chair
  • Stuart B. Carpenter, SIGCUE Reprsentative
  • Alain Chesnais, SGB Chair
  • Jim Cohoon, SGB Publications Liaison
  • Rob Corless, SIGSAM Chair
  • Ron Cytron, SIGPLAN Chair
  • Gordon Davies, ACM Professional Development Program
  • Susan Dumais, SIGIR Chair
  • Kemal Ebcioglu, SIGMICRO Chair
  • Carla Ellis, SGB Past Chair
  • Stuart Feldman, SGB EC Member-at-Large/SIGecom Chair
  • Faith E. Fich, SIGACT VC
  • Rick Furuta, SGB EC Member-at-Large
  • Ephraim Glinert, SIGCAPH Chair
  • Gene Golovchinksy, SIGWEB Representative
  • Jeff Grove, ACM Director - Public Policy
  • Kathy Haramundanis, SIGDOC Chair
  • Stephen C. Hayne, SGB EC Member-at-Large/SIGGROUP Chair
  • Jim Hightower, SIGCUE Chair
  • John E. Howland, SIGCUE Representative
  • Mark Scott Johnson, SGB Council Representative
  • Won Kim, SIGKDD Chair
  • Bruce Klein, SGB EC Member-at-Large/SIGCSE Chair
  • Dianne Martin, SIGCAS Chair
  • Elli Mylonas, SIGWEB Chair
  • Maritza Nichols, ACM SIG Services
  • Fred Niederman, SIGCPR Chair
  • David Notkin, SGB EC Member-at-Large/SIGSOFT Chair
  • Mike O'Donnell, SIGSOUND
  • Larry Rowe, SIGMM Chair
  • Pat Ryan, ACM COO
  • Ravi Sandhu, SIGSAC Chair
  • Laurie Schatzberg, SIGMIS Representative
  • Jean Scholtz, SIGCHI Representative
  • David Siegel, SIGAPL Chair
  • Rick Snodgrass, SIGMOD Chair
  • Mary Vernon, SIGMETRICS Chair
  • William E. Weihl, SIGOPS Chair
  • John White, ACM CEO
  • David Wise, ACM Secretary/Treasurer