Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG)
of the
IEEE Society on the social Implications of Technology (SSIT)
Held on April 20, 2002 at Rutgers University

1.   President Andrews welcomed the attendees. Attendees introduced themselves.

2.   The agenda of the meeting was approved.

3.   The minutes of the previous meeting (December 1, 2001) were approved as corrected.

5.   President Andrews gave the president's report.

(a)   IEEE-wide budget status. IEEE's cash reserves are being depleted; spending by societies is being scrutinized. See attached TAB Infrastructure Distribution. IEEE Board of Directors adopted a budget in February of 2002 that requires societies to pay "infrastructure costs."

(b)   New HQ cost allocation mechanism. The cost allocation mechanism is complicated. The main points are (i) Societies no longer get a fraction of IEEE membership dues. (ii) The formula that allocates money to societies has changed. (iii) Societies that build up cash reserves do not get to spend them. (iv) Additional allocations expenses are assessed using the "principles" method. SSIT will be assessed $15.34 per member.

A discussion followed about how SSIT should adjust to the new rules. There was concern that Computer Society members might shift to the ACM. Volunteers might be discouraged due to lack of resources. Conference organizers might look elsewhere for sponsorship. Perhaps the IEEE HQ should do more cost control; perhaps the infrastructure of IEEE has grown too large to support. Clint Andrews reported that this issue has been discussed at TAB meetings, where it has been proposed that an outside consultant look at the IEEE Board of Directors.

(c)   The Boston chapter of SSIT may be revitalized. They may be planning a conference. Janet Rochester mentioned that a Philadelphia chapter has revived. This calls for a person to chair the Chapters Committee. Nominations are solicited. Bob Brook suggested that the nominee should be in the Boston or Philadelphia areas.

(d)   Trends in Civic Engagement. See attached. The book Bowling Alone (NY:Simon & Schuster, 2000) by Robert Putnam shows that membership rates for most professional societies have been dropping over the past several decades. The peak membership rate was in about 1959. Electrical Engineering is the leading technical profession world wide and shows the same trend. Social capital varies geographically. There is a disconnect between generations. What are the implications of this for SSIT?

A discussion followed. Bob Brook observed that young engineers are working longer hours and do not have time for anything else. The employers have to be involved in IEEE activities, not just individual members. Perhaps environmental or workplace issues would interest them. Karl Perusich observed that the dominant style of the society is academic. Perhaps SSIT should have non-academic, newsy type articles like IEEE Spectrum. Steve Unger suggested that scholarly and activist approaches are both legitimate, but SSIT should be more active in advocacy. Many engineers have trouble with IEEE and don't see that it benefits them, and there is the general problem of information overload.

The International Federation of Automatic Control has a group that is active in our area. Perhaps we should liaze with them or investigate what they do. They have a good Web site. We should link to them.

(Jerry Engel) Affiliates are a good idea, but IEEE rules may impeded this by imposing a $45 fee on affiliate members. Singapore (region 10) members regard IEEE as a learned society, but not one for their workplace/social issues. They have local organizations for that.

(Various members) There are difficulties in discussing workplace/social issues by an international society.

(O'Connell) There should be more emphasis on student members. There should be a role for students in meetings and conferences. Students tend to be idealists and advocates.

(Clint Andrews) Of the 152 student members last year 22 dropped their membership this year. (Meyer) Send T&S to student chapters. An ad hoc committee was formed to draft a motion on this issue. See Membership in section (11), below.

6.   Janet Rochester gave the Publication Committee Report. (Attached)

Roli Varma has submitted a proposal for an issue of Technology and Society on "Woman and Minorities in Information Technology", for which she would be guest editor. Arne Vesilind and Janet advise approval of the proposal and suggest the Fall 2003 issue. The proposal was approved after a brief discussion.

Technology and Society shall not use art that requires continuing payment for electronic rights. Other societies also are avoiding art that requires continuing payment. Royalty-free art houses have greatly expanded.

(Steve Unger) Technology and Society should not reject articles that contain opinions of the author. In the areas of interest to SSIT authors must necessarily have opinions.

(Clint Andrews) The publication committee is charged with reporting on two items: (1) The possibility for an associate editor for Technology and Society. The type of associate editor proposed is an assistant, not necessarily expected to be the next editor. (2) The formation of a search committee for the next editor. Arne Vesilind will be asked if he wishes to continue.

7.   There was no past president report.

8.   Bylaws Changes

Jerry Engel reported that provisional approval of the bylaws changes was given at the December meeting, but that the changes needed to be published so the general membership could see them before final approval. This has been done. (Motion:) that the bylaws as amended be approved. (approved).

9.   Treasurer's Report (See attached)

Karl Stephan (treasurer) was not present but his report was distributed. SSIT has $280,000 in reserve at the end of February 2002. Annual expenses are expected to be $200,000. Three items were discussed:

(a) Membership fee. The IEEE study shows that it costs SSIT $34 for each member. The current membership fee is $22. IEEE recommends an increase in dues to $24.

(Karl Perusich) Move that the dues remain at $22.

(Discussion:) This might have the effect of discouraging membership. Several people thought that at annual renewal time IEEE members drop societies in order to keep their annual dues constant. (Bob Brook:) Nearly all SSIT members have other society memberships. At renewal time, members will drop SSIT, not the other societies. The recent sudden drop in IEEE membership argues against a dues increase. There was discussion about lowering the dues.

(Motion:) (to keep dues at $22) passed.

(Motion:) (Jerry Engel) If we are allowed to have a variance on the student membership rate, that we set the 2003 student rate at $9.50. The motion passed. The president will check if such variance is possible

(b) Pages per year. The motion to publish 208 pages per year was accepted.

(c) Non-members list price. IEEE proposes increasing the price to $230 per year. This proposal was accepted.

10.   Conference Reports

2002 Conference: The report on the 2002 Conference (attached) was distributed in the absence of Joe Herkert. There are 105 people registered so far. Sixty-nine have prepaid registrations. Seventy-one papers have been accepted from twelve countries. The proceedings are already at the printer. An opening reception and a banquet are planned. The next Board of Governor's meeting will be at the conference, Saturday, June 8, at 4pm.

(Motion:) The Board of Governors Commends Joe Herkert for his work on the 2002 Conference. (passed).

2003 Conference: Simon Burne is organizing next year's conference (see attached). The proposed conference concept is "Technology and Crime Prevention". This will be done in cooperation with another organization, CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). The conference is proposed for September or October of 2003 in the Netherlands.

(Discussion:) The conference concept is too narrow; should be changed to "Technology and Security." Holding the conference in September is awkward for American academics. But a June or August time is awkward for Europeans. The proposal seems heavy in technology; it should be broadened to include topics more aligned with SSIT. The call for papers will come out in the June issue of Technology and Society.

(Motion, O'Connell:) That SSIT be given the charge to negotiate a memorandum of understanding for ISTAS 2003 and convey the concerns of the Board of Governors to Simon Burne. (passed)

2004 Conference: This is proposed for Worcester, MA with Lance Schachterle as the organizer. It was suggested that Lance Schachterle should be present at the next Board of Governor's meeting.

11.   Committee Reports

Membership (Bob Brook) See attached. There has been a large, sharp drop in IEEE membership. SSIT membership has been slowly dropping over several years. The target for new membership should be the new engineer; the society should convey its relevance to the working engineer. Usually it is the engineer that first detects a problem in a design or a product. The CEPA (Conscientious Employee Protection Act) should be advocated by SSIT (see "Notes on CEPA", attached). Technology and Society should discuss on-going activities of the society such as efforts supporting CEPA.

(Motion:) Propose that Bob Brook on behalf of SSIT explore with IEEE USA and interested subgroups mechanisms for achieving a CEPA-like law for the US. (Passed)

(Motion of the ad hoc committee:) That President Andrews appoint and fund up to $2000 an ad hoc committee to prepare a working plan for consideration in the Fall 2002 meeting for membership promotion, to include:

  1. Circulation of Technology and Society to university students,
  2. Enhancing and enlarging the SSIT distinguished visitors program to include student outreach,
  3. Exploring engagements with like organizations (including national societies) for coordinated activities.

A progress report will be presented in the June 2002 Board of Governor's meeting. (The motion passed.)

Technology and Public Policy Bob Brook reports that there is a national committee charged with creating a national set of standards for voting machines. Steve Berger is chair of the committee (see attached). SSIT should be interested in their progress.

Ethics Steve Unger discussed the situation of David Mounts, a professional construction engineer and IEEE member who was working for University of Louisiana at New Orleans. For a period of about five years management of the university saved money in new construction by cutting corners, often resulting in building code violations. David Mounts called attention to these cuts and was fired by management. He is suing the university for violation of his free speech rights and other violations. However, the trial judge accepted summary dismissal. The appeals court upheld the dismissal. The case has been appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court. The IEEE is officially prohibited from helping individuals in cases like this. The NSPE has filed an amicus brief with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Nominations (Karl Perusich) Three openings for the Board of Governor's are coming up. There have been two nominations so far. Nominations close July 15, 2002.

Chapters President Andrews is directed to contact the nascent Boston chapter.

12.   Old Business

No old business.

13.   New Business

Jerry Engel reported on the recent policy, ratified by the IEEE Board of Directors, that places membership and conferences restrictions on people from Burma, Cuba, Libya, Iran and some other nations. This may have an impact on SSIT conferences.

There was a suggestion that the SSIT web site link to the IFAC.

14.   Next Meeting Data and Place

The next Board of Governor's meeting will be at the 2002 SSIT conference in Raleigh, NC, Saturday, June 8, at 4pm.

15.   Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 2:40PM.

Attendees at the April 20, 2002 Meeting
Julian Reitman Division V jreitman#stam.uconn.edu
Karl Perusich Past President kperusic#galaxyinternet.net
Bob Brook Division IV rbrook#worldnet.att.net
Clint Andrews President c.j.andrews#ieee.org
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell#ieee.org
Brian O'Connell Vice President oconnellb#ccsu.edu
Gerald Engel Board of Gov. g.engel#computer.org
Andy Meyer Division X meyer#njit.edu
Michael Loui Board of Gov. m-loui#uiuc.edu
Janet Rochester Publications Chairj.rochester#ieee.org
Terri Bookman T&S Managing Editor    t.bookman#ieee.org
Steve Unger Board of Gov. unger#cs.columbia.edu
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