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Full Statement: Why disgruntled BCS members are demanding an EGM.

Below is the text of the statement signed by 50 BCS members in support of an Extraordinary General Meeting. Computer Weekly is publishing the text in full, followed by the BCS response

 

EGM Statement

We the undersigned request that an Emergency General Meeting of the BCS be arranged for the membership to consider and vote upon the motions listed below.

Motion 1: A vote of ‘no confidence’ in the current Trustee Board.
Motion 2: A vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Chief Executive, David Clarke.
Motion 3: A vote to suspend any further expenditure on the “transformation programme” until there is full, open and transparent disclosure of all financial accounting relating to this programme to-date.

Our reasons for raising these motions before the membership are as follows:-

1) Over recent months numerous changes and restructuring activities have been undertaken to such an extent that the membership of the Society now seems to be secondary to the role of the ‘business’ of the Society.

2) The direction the BCS seems to be taking is towards that of a business that sells services, of which membership is purely an income stream, rather than its original purpose of a professional membership charitable body.

3) All of the changes and statements are being made and supported by a very small minority of senior volunteers and staff without proper and careful due process and consultation with the rest of the wider and active membership to see if they concur.

4) Few members have been made overtly aware of the Transformation Programme or what effects it will have, apart from general communication in press and media.

 
5) The general membership has been given next to no opportunity to be engaged in the decisions regarding the future of the society’s direction.

6) The restructuring of the Membership operation within the BCS has been badly managed and has resulted in the disenfranchising of the volunteer member groups and individual members.

7) Specifically, the active membership/volunteers are constantly put down, particularly by the staff directors, on the basis that they only represent the views of around 5% of the membership

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8) The relative importance of the member groups in the Society as a whole seems to be diminishing, with the removal of their Management Committees and the corresponding reduction in the number of Council seats they are allowed to populate.

9) There appears to be a deliberate attempt to reduce the involvement and influence of volunteer members, for example, the very recent directive that ALL members groups must produce a plan for the 2010/11 year (Sep-Aug) by the end of March. If no plan is received they will be given NO funding.

10) The project management and financial control of the Transformation project has not been reported in sufficient detail to Trustee Board for that body to be able to make effective decisions i.e. no Project Plan, Risk & Issues Log or Expenditure forecast has been made available to anyone

11) Selection of 3rd party suppliers for the development of the Transformation programme does not appear to have followed normal business practice for a charitable organisation for their selection e.g. competitive tendering where large sums of money are involved.

12) The published BCS strategic direction excludes any membership strategy, although a recent ruling requires all future member meetings to support the Strategic Objectives of the Society – which do not include the recruiting or support of members themselves.

13) The strategic aims of the Society, published on the website and agreed by the Trustees, contain no mention of Membership, yet Membership IS mentioned in the Royal Charter

14) Repeated attempts by Council, member groups and individuals, who are genuinely concerned, to discuss and/or amend the changes being pushed through, have been met with apparent disinterest, and disparagement.

15) There are planned reductions in the number of elected members to various Boards and Committees, in favour of those being selected as Vice President by the Nominations Committee (which reports only to the Trustee Board) or BCS staff.

16) There appears to be a desire to have BCS staff members on Boards and Committees with full entitlement to vote.

17) There have been poor communication of the Transformation impacts and changes to the general membership, member groups and Council

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18) There has been poor communications between the Trustee Board and the rest of the BCS.

19) No information has been provided to the membership of the charitable performance of the BCS i.e. there is no information available as to the percentage of income used to fulfil the charitable aims.  Whilst this must be of a level necessary to satisfy the Charity Commission, it is not available to members

20) In conclusion we can only assume that Trustees are diminishing the role of the membership in the Society.

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Dang, I'm not a member of BCS, and I have to say that from what I've read so far (including various press releases and the Q&A put out by BCS management), there are some real issues here. From personal experience I know that politics inside professional bodies/associations can become very involved and aggressive (usually because of the personalities/ambitions involved), but at some point - ideally before the public becomes aware of them - you have to make an attempt to resolve internal issues through negotiation, consultation and diplomacy. If the "rebel" claim is true - that they've tried unsuccessfully to obtain key (and as far as I can tell, perfectly legitimate) information through all the usual channels - then there's also a much more fundamental issue involved: the ability of even quite high-ranking members to communicate with the management team at all, let alone actually discuss issues with them. BCS management certainly aren't smelling of roses at this point in time...
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