Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG)

of the

IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT)

Held at 11AM on November 23, 2002 at IEEE-USA HQ, 1828 L St., Washington, DC

(corrected: April 5, 2003)

(Addendum: Feb. 4, 2003. See the end.)

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

2.   The agenda of the meeting was approved with the addition of two items: a report from the new Grants Committee, and discussion of revamping the Fellows program.

3.   The minutes of the previous meeting (September 28, 2002) were approved.

4.   President's Report. (Clint Andrews)

(a)   November TAB Meeting

The presidents of all societies met in Chicago. The meeting was friendly, people had the feeling that the financial problems of IEEE were under control. Independent consultants were called in to study the structure of IEEE and to determine if it is suitable for a World-class non-profit organization. IEEE corporate infrastructure costs are too high. There are millions of readily available savings by improving efficiency.

A long term goal is to determine if the current governance as a federation of societies is appropriate. The goals for the medium term are efficiency improvements, consolidation of conference planning and meeting planning, consolidation of publishing, and reduced travel to meetings. Short term goals include using thinner paper in publications, less use of the IEEE credit cards.

The consultants said the IEEE staff is in general quite good. However, if no changes to the organization are made as a result of the consultants' report some staff should be fired.

IEEE Corporate overhead is too high. There are too many people in some roles, and there is vague accounting for what they do. The accounting system in antiquated and does not keep track of how much time each employee works on each project. Paper products are a declining source of revenue for IEEE. Electronic products are increasing in importance as a source of revenue.

Pres. Andrews noted that SSIT needs to have an electronic publication strategy.

Other recommendations: don't ignore governance, and create a committee to make sure that the savings opportunities do not get ignored. An important governance recommendation was to make sure that volunteers in various roles have an opportunity to learn their role and become effective. For example, at present the TAB body turns over by 50% before the next meeting.

The Presidents Forum endorsed the report and moved to approve it.

Another item discussed at the TAB meeting is the results from the group of society presidents that studied the cost of membership. For SSIT, the total cost of running the society divided by the number of members is $81. This breaks down into fixed costs of $35.68 per member, an incremental cost of $10.94, and corporate overhead of $34.00.

The optimal charge per member should be the incremental cost, according to some business models. So our optimal dues are somewhere in the range of $11 to $81. Currently dues are $22 for IEEE members.

Our incremental cost (of $10.94) is in the middle of the range of the incremental costs for other societies. Some are in the $2 to $3 range, others $7 to $6. The Computer Society is $17; Reliability is $26.

No decision was made on membership qualifications for IEEE. There was discussion about whether the affiliate membership category should be continued. Should IEEE membership be open, or available only to those with an EE or similar degree? If the affiliate membership category is eliminated SSIT membership might be adversely affected.

(b)   Sister Societies

A letter was sent to various societies asking to establish mutually beneficial relations. The letter offered to allow other societies to place a membership ad in T&S in exchange for an ad for affiliate membership in SSIT in their newsletter.

Discussion: The Computer Society has a project with predictive fiction. Jim Issacs reported to them that SSIT would a good group for them to work with. ASME enquired about possible affiliation with us. They have a newsletter on social issues but not a magazine. However, SSIT has worked with them before and nothing came of it. Perhaps a free issue and a subscription solicitation could be sent to members of ASME interested in Social Issues. But the current subscription rate for T&S might be prohibitive.

Action Item: Pres. Andrews will see if there is any response to the letters. Also, he will pursue the possibility of reduced subscription rates for sister society members, and respond the the ASME's enquiry.

5.   Past President's Report (via e-mail)

Karl Perusich is interested in creating an electronic newsletter for SSIT.

Discussion: this would become an official publication of IEEE, so we must go through channels. An electronic-only newsletter will not be a great expense. Perhaps an informal newsletter could be created without going through channels.

Do we want the newsletter to be raw text, or to be nicely formatted and published using PDF format?

This may be a surprising amount of work. Perhaps Karl should be made chair of a newsletter committee to investigate the IEEE channels that are needed to do this.

Some sections have been doing this. Some have sought IEEE approval and others have not.

Perhaps a hybrid model would work: one paper issue per year, but mostly electronic versions.

The chair of the Publications Committee should be part of the process of creating a newsletter.

Motion: That Karl Perusich form a committee that will investigate the political and logistical implications of an electronic newsletter and report back in April.

The motion passed.

6.   Treasurer's Report

Membership has been holding steady, but we are down about 80 members from a year ago. The balance sheet shows IEEE taking away from our reserves. The bottom line is that we are no worse off than other societies. There is nothing problematic in periodicals or in meetings.

We should look into getting grants and into increasing membership. There may be corporations out there that are willing to give money for acclivities.

Discussion: Periodical revenue is down from what was expected. Under the current IEEE system, T&S gets significant amount of revenue from the electronic version. Every society has followed IEEE recommendations for the non-member cost of periodicals.

7.   Publication Report

a. IEEE Service Package

Terri Bookman was contacted by IEEE about what publications service they would provide and their cost. We will go ahead with what we have been doing in the past. Terri signed up for the same "mid level" service package we have used in the past. Most things are done on a per hour basis as we need them. This is economical for us because we don't use many services. The price charged per page has increased from $105 to $140.

b. New Editor for T&S

Aarne Vesilind has resigned as editor effective September 2003. The last issue he will edit will be the Winter 2003 issue. He plans to be at the board meeting in Amsterdam in Fall of 2003. The ad for a new editor from 1999 has been updated and is ready to be included in the Winter 2002 and subsequent issues of T&S. The ad now states that the editor is expected to attend at least two BOG meetings per year and will receive some travel support.

Discussion: is a search necessary? Could the BOG appoint an editor? There does not seem to be any problem with the by laws. A smooth transition could be enhanced by appointing Joe Herkert as the editor and advertising for an associate editor. SSIT has done formal searches only twice in the base.

Discussion: An advantage of advertising for an editor is that it enhances the view that T&S is a serious scholarly publication. Also SSIT might bring in new blood. We need to keep the appearance of fairness.

Discussion: Possibly this is an avoidable transition cost. We already have an assistant editor in place that can learn the ropes from the current editor. The transition window is very narrow. The decision should be done quickly.

Motion: Publish an ad for a new editor in the Winter 2002 issue. The ad will give a deadline of January 31 for applying. The president will appoint a Search Committee which will report at the April meeting.

The motion passed.

Discussion: The ad should read "financial support for travel will be given to the editor".

Discussion: This should be negotiated with the editor. Some candidates may already have support for such travel. We should not establish a precedent by stating in the ad that travel is supported.

c. New Publications Chair

Janet Rochester wishes to step down from the Publications Chair at the end of her term. But she agrees to have her name used in the ad as the contact person.

d. Special Issue on Nanotechnology

Ned Woodhouse from Rensallear has proposed a special issue on nanotechnology (see attached).

Motion: to approve the special issue of Technology and Society on nanotechnology.

The motion passed.

e. Electronic Publication Strategy

Discussion: SSIT needs a policy on electronic publication. IEEE production model may shift to continuous e-publication rather than issue-based publication. There may be continuous acceptance and on-line publication. The concept of an "issue" of a publication may disappear.

Discussion: should there be two versions of T&S, an electronic version and a print version. The IEEE Xplore format is not amenable to print only. One of our main concerns is that the revenue stream from IEEE encourages electronic versions.

8.   Conference Reports

The regional meeting in April in Urbana, Illinois is on track. The Baris Award will be given at this meeting. For further information see: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~m-loui/ssit03.html.

ISTAS 2003

There is no longer concern that this meeting is off-track. The organizers are fully engaged and e-mail is exchanged daily. However, a MOU has not yet been signed. The current conference announcement will be in the Winter T&S.

SSIT may have to undertake more work in producing the conference proceedings than was anticipated. A fully-searchable PDF version needs to be produced, and a version of the proceedings on US-sized (8 1/2)" by 11" paper needs to be printed in the US. Possibly attendees will get only a CD.

The organizers are asking for suggestions for a keynote speaker. Two proposals were made: Michael Sheldon and Evan Mogan.

ISTAS 2004

The 2004 conference in Worcester, MA continues to look good.

ISTAS 2004

9.  IEEE-USA Government Relations and Operations (Chris Brantley, Director)

Chris Brantley gave an overview of the activities of IEEE-USA Government Relations and Operations. The activities fall into three categories: (1) technical advise to the government, (2) direct advocacy, and (3) education. IEEE and AAAS have a program for finding court-appointed scientific experts when a judge wishes to appoint one. Direct advocacy has been concerned with H1B visas, career issues, and voting standards. Education involves helping US members understand what is going on in Washington by sponsoring fellowships, and internships for student members. See http://www.wise-intern.org.

10.   Committee Reports

a. Grants Committee (Jerry Engle)

Peter Wiesner from the Educational Activities Board of the Computer Society is interested in seeking NSF money to create Virtual Communities. SSIT could be a partner in this.

b. Nominations/Elections

Election results will be reported on December 6.

c. Awards Committee

The Barus Award will be given to David Monts at the April meeting in Urbana, Illinois.

11.   Old Business

No old business.

12.   New Business

Fellows Program.

One cannot apply to be a Fellow, one must be nominated to be a Fellow by a Society Fellow's Committee. From there the nominations proceeds to the IEEE Fellows Committee. We need an SSIT level evaluating committee. Nominations come from individuals.

We should have been doing this all along. There should be an announcement in Technology and Society soliciting nominations. People should be encouraged to make nominations. Only Fellows can make a nomination and only Fellows can be on the evaluation committee. The President will get a list of Fellows that can serve on this committee.

13.  Next Meeting

The Spring meeting will be Saturday, April 5, 2003, in Champaign/Urbana, IL. The regional meeting in Urbana will be on the preceeding day, Friday April 4, 2003. (See Conference Reports, above).

13.  Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 2:15PM.

Attendees at the Sept 28, 2002 Meeting
* = @
Clint Andrews President c.j.andrews*ieee.org
Chris Brantley Visitor, Director IEEE Gov't. Relations and Operations  
Gerald L. Engel BOG g.engel*computer.org
Edward Farell Visitor, EFC Co. Ltd efarell*interlog.com
Joe Herkert   joe_herkert*ncsu.edu
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell*ieee.org
Brian O'Connell Vice President oconnellb*ccsu.edu
Julian Reitman Division V jreitman*stam.nconn.edu
Janet Rochester Publications Chair j.rochester*ieee.org
Karl Stephan Treasurer kdstephan*swt.edu

14.  Addendum (Feb. 4, 2003)

Excerpt from e-mail from Clint Andrews of January 17, 2003: We need to vote on the following electronically because action is necessary before the next BoG meeting at Champaign-Urbana, IL, on April 5th.

In the last BoG meeting, we endorsed the idea of email solicitation of IEEE members as a way to find new SSIT members. The thought was that we would offer a free 1/2 year membership in SSIT as bait.

Karl Stephan has investigated this idea further. As Karl describes below, there's a window of opportunity to solicit new SSIT members from within the ranks of the IEEE. IEEE HQ will send an email for us to the 7000 non-SSIT members who checked an interest in SSIT issues when filling out their membership forms.

The cost to us is $59 for emailing + [($1 for processing of positive responses + $5 for half-year membership subsidy)/new SSIT member]. If we get 10 new members, we spend $119. If we get 100 new members, we spend $659. If we get 1000 new members we spend $6059. We hope of course that many of the new members will stick around for several years to justify our investment .

Karl proposes that we cap our exposure by limiting the offer to the first 500 responses.

Please vote on the following motion by 31 January, and let's discuss as needed until that date:

"The SSIT BoG authorizes the Treasurer to spend up to $3100 on a half-price membership recruitment campaign targeting by email those IEEE members who have expressed an interest in social implications of technology."

Excerpt from e-mail from Clint Andrews of February 4, 2003: Folks: This motion passes.