The EGM debate: BCS v Len Keighley

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The BCS is facing a call for an Extraordinary General Meeting from 50 BCS members. Supporters of the EGM motion, led by former BCS trustee Len Keighley, have listed 20 reasons for suppporting the EGM. In the debate below, the BCS and Len Keighley put forward their arguments for and against the EGM.

 

RESPONSES TO EGM STATEMENT

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.

BCS Response
As part of our restructure there has been much consultation on a whole host of areas. In the membership area in particular, Trustees have set up an Interim Membership Board, which actually includes one of the EGM signatories, to help establish the framework for a new Membership Board which will have a much broader remit than before. A major objective is to attract a larger proportion of our industry into BCS membership. This is not an action that would indicate membership has a "secondary role". The new board structure is to enable the BCS membership organisation to participate much more in a whole raft of activities. What members need to understand is that our professional products and services generate each year the money we need for the BCS membership as a whole to achieve our corporate objectives.

LK's Response
It is not consultation when the structure and high level operation of the organisation is presented as fait accompli.
Despite numerous attempts by various members and member groups, the structure of the new Membership Board remains unchanged from it original definition when it was first announced. This structure will result in an archaic structure of over 125 groups attempting to communicate with and being administered by a Board comprising 3 committees.
Membership is to be handled by one board with little or no involvement with the management and direction of the rest of the organisation.

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.

BCS Response
The "direction of BCS" is one which was determined by Trustees after extensive research and consultation, and is completely in line with our Royal Charter. This is very clear, and it is this document that defines our purpose. (see http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.6038). We have one objective defined in the Charter, to promote the study and practice of computing/IT and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public. BCS members and the executive team work closely together to deliver this objective - funded by our very successful business activities.
This direction has also been widely acknowledged and praised by members, who voted in the latest member survey to show that 83% were satisfied with their member services and 85% knew about the transformation.
Another key point here is the major misunderstanding that member subscriptions pay for non member activities. Not only is this not the case, but the truth is the complete opposite. For many years now, our commercial activities have supported member activities and paid for all of BCS' charitable activities. Because we knew that some would challenge this analysis, Trustees took the decision to commission an independent review by KPMG of our costs and expenditure. This analysis found that in the current financial year, although BCS shows a net zero surplus in the overall operating plan, the membership activities are being funded to the tune of £2 million from our commercial activities. This cross funding has been the case for many years and should indicate that membership activity is critically important to BCS, but without our commercial operations many of our member activities would have to be severely cut back.
The direction of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is away from a reputation as "old-fashioned", "out of touch" and "irrelevant", to become the world-leading organisation for IT that is totally relevant to both current and future IT professionals.

LK's Response
There are a number of further issues embedded within this response.
1) If it is only to promote the study and practice of computing etc, in this business-like manner, it is surely like a business, not like a charity.
2) The statistics regarding the percentages of 'satisfied customers' gives no indication of the size of the survey.  Typically nationwide surveys are conducted with just 100 respondents. Even if one generously assumes 1% of the membership this is only c.700 responses. In addition, surveys may have only been sent to 'professional members' which reduces that number to around 450.
3) However, if 83/85% 'praised' the BCS why is it also seen as "old-fashioned", "out of touch" and "irrelevant" by so many? Surely if the membership were that happy with things they would not see it in those terms.
4) KPMG have been the Auditors for so many years that it is difficult to understand how they can be 'independent'.
5) The Royal Charter only shows one objective. However, it then goes on to list 25 powers that can be used to fulfil that objective, a number of which are concerned with the recruitment, operation and administration of members and member groups.
6) As previously stated, there has been a split between the Business and the membership and this is no more evident than in the comment, "the membership is not self funding". That is only true while you consider the Business earnings as separate from the membership fee income. They are clearly not. The business would have little or no income without its membership base whether directly or indirectly. Therefore the income generated by the whole of BCS is generated by the membership and, therefore, it is self funding.
A fact which perhaps is not obvious is that the Business wing of the BCS was originally formed to generate income to support the membership in its charitable aims. In that respect all the money generated by the BCS belongs to the membership as the original investor. As the membership fees where used to establish the business initially, the membership can be and should be considered to be its shareholders. Any separation of Business and Membership is therefore not in the spirit of the original intent of the membership. The business of the BCS should not be considered an entity in its own right. Even if it was to be considered a separate entity, what would be its purpose?  In my view the BCS is a Professional Membership organisation that has a Business function to help support its operation, not a Business with membership fees as an income stream.
What is happening is hardly conducive to a members' association when one compares other professional members' associations.

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.

BCS Response
The reality is that the changes have been made as a result of very extensive research and consultation with both members and non-members, and the actions planned and ratified by Trustees wishing to do the best for our professional body. The criticisms being levelled as part of the EGM call are themselves supported by a very small minority of a huge membership who have not been consulted, which is why the Institute welcomes the opportunity to hold an EGM despite the unplanned expenditure of a very significant £100,000 that this action forces.

No less than 34 individual surveys have been done with various groups of our members, and accumulative totals of this communication comes to over 155,000 individual requests over the last 14 months. In addition to that, there were twelve communications just on CITP development between end of July and end of September 09; many web research workshops and desk research on member needs and thoughts; usability workshops; webmaster workshops; Board and Committee presentations; individual volunteer contributions; a social network survey which alone was 2000 members plus members of all branch, section and SG committees who were invited to complete a survey; a Member Network Beta with another 2000 members; the brand development research included no less than 10 different stakeholder groups; an in-depth research programme specifically into the academic world and our Student members around the term "IT" and, finally, consultation with all 8 Boards, our Branch and SG Chairs, CPHC and Membership Assessors. This was all communicated to Council, we would concede a little later than it might have been, but in no way can the charge of changes "being made and supported by a very small minority of senior volunteers and staff without proper and careful due process and consultation" be levelled at the above extensive list of consultation and involvement.

LK's Response
As there have been so many surveys, 34 individual surveys in 14 months, this does raise a number of further questions.
1) What was the cost of those surveys?
2) Were they part of the transformation costs?
3) Why is it that a very significant number of active members still feel that they were not involved in the consultation or part of the decision making process?
Regarding the cost of the EGM:
What is the breakdown of the alleged £100,000? -, given its relative insignificance of 2% of the 5 Million Pounds being spent on the Transformation.
As a Council member, the Chair of the Branches Management Committee and the Branches Congress, I only remember being informed of what was changing, not consulted about how it should change. Nor did those consulted actually approve the changes.

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.

BCS Response
Not only have there been multiple updates through various ITNow issues including a special edition in September 2009 and an update included with the most recent edition, a Top Team event in November 2008 , letters, email contact and two Member Conventions, but we have member research that shows 85% of members are aware of the transformation - this is not "a few".

LK's Response
Again use is made here of a percentage figure of the success of the 'transformation awareness', but 85% of exactly how many?
We seem to be left to assume it is the full membership of the BCS. We know it is not and cannot be.

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.

BCS Response
Please refer to (3) above

LK's Response
This does not answer the question of how many members where involved in the decision making process, not how many were surveyed.
Being surveyed does not constitute being part of the decision making process, I am unaware of even Council, the BCS advisory body, being asked to participate in the decision making processes.
This is being presented as a dramatic change / 'new direction' as noted later. Therefore there is a compelling argument that, if this truly is the case, the membership should have been consulted.

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.

BCS Response
Please refer to (1) above
The restructuring does remove a level of management committee and replaces it with greater use of electronic communication, for example through the new Member Network. Many have welcomed this change but some of those who sat on the committees (one of which was chaired by Len Keighley) may feel they have lost influence.

LK's Response
The Management Committees, Branches, SGs, YPG, Elite and International Sections of all of the member groups produced a document of how they perceived the new Membership Board structure should be implemented. None of them 'welcomed' the reporting line structure of 125+ groups to one centralised Board.
Therefore could those who "welcomed" this change be identified?

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.

BCS Response
Evidence for this? Staff Directors work extensively, and happily, with the "active membership and volunteers". The assertion that the "active" members only represent 5% of the membership is, however, correct and the new Membership Board will seek to increase the proportion of members who are actively involved with the Institute. The staff team work with ALL of our members in different ways and in many cases the staff work is the only contact members have with the BCS. The staff team would never consider referring to the 95% of members who are not "active" as "dormant", as one prominent signatory of the EGM request calls them.

LK's Response
The minutes of the first meeting of the Interim Membership Board, 3/3/2010, Paper Number  IMB/2010/007 v3a,  need only be reviewed to see that at least one Staff Director is "adamant" that the "Active" members are not "expert" enough to participate in the management and strategic direction of the membership operation, in order for it to be "world class".
The paper, IMB/2010/007 v3a, is not available in the IMB area of the member's website and no further minutes have been produced, even though there have been two further meetings of this group. This calls into question more transparency issues again.

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.

BCS Response
See (1) above and note that the new Membership Board's broader remit will include responsibility for all member groups including branches and specialist groups. Two years ago, an Electoral Reform Working Party was commissioned to look at the Council seats in total. As a result of this independent work, and approved by Council over a series of meetings, the agreement was that Branches and International numbers remained unchanged, the SG elected seats went from 6 to 5 with YPG receiving the extra seat, and Forums reduced from 6 seats to 3 seats. The number of Council members elected by the membership at large remained unchanged at 12 . These changes were approved by the membership at the recent AGM with over 96% of members voting in favour of the changes.

LK's Response
However, the number of seats on Council for SGs did go down. Therefore the statement is correct. In addition the original starting point of the ERWP was that Branches and SGs should only be allowed 4 seats while all the rest would remain the same or be increased.

Again the use of percentages is made without any reference to the total numbers of voters.
For this I can actually provide the real number - 7272 voted for the motion which is only c. 11% of the membership. The 96% quoted is of the members who actually voted during the AGM meeting.

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.

BCS Response
All parts of the BCS are being encouraged to understand and contribute to our five new strategic objectives. As part of this we have asked all Member Groups to think about the ways in which their activities, as well as meeting the needs of their members, can work towards one or more of these objectives so that we get the combined effect of all BCS activities contributing. The only groups that get no funding will be those that are inactive (and thus do not respond) or those who choose not to recognise that BCS has a new direction.

LK's Response
The answer here appears to agree with the statement; - all the groups are run by volunteers not employees. Therefore working on a pro bono basis, they can only do what they can do, when they have time outside their working lives.

So by this answer, if, due to having lives outside of BCS, they do not manage to respond to the BCS staff timetable, they will be deemed to be 'inactive' and therefore not provided with any funds. The statement is therefore true, as in BCS terms, it is the volunteers fault for not being able to provide enough of their time.

Surely the staff whose roles exist by virtue of membership funding, should assist the groups to respond in the required timescales not just assume they are 'inactive'.

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.

BCS Response
Trustees have discussed the Transformation Programme at length over the last 18 months. Within the limits of commercial sensitivity and prudence, all our funding and project management has been completely open and shared with Boards, Council and the general membership. All suppliers have been independently managed by a contracted, independent Project Director, and the status of our 100+ major programmes reported monthly. It was only through excellent and open project management that we delivered on time and under budget

LK's Response
As a Trustee, I was never supplied with any of this documentation. Indeed when I asked to see it, it was never provided. As a Council member I am only aware of very high level plans, e.g. a single sheet being provided.

As we do not know what the target delivery dates and costs are, we only have this answer to confirm they have been supposedly been met.

The two uses of the term 'independent' are incorrect, while they are a contractor and not a permanent employee, they are still paid by BCS and therefore not independent as they are under direct instruction of the BCS management.

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.

BCS Response
This is totally wrong. The processes used are the standard BCS processes which are subject to both our own external and charity commission audits. Please also refer to (10) above

LK's Response
As with the answer to no. 10, this simply does not answer this question.
What are those standard processes?
How were suppliers selected?

Given the vast amounts of money being spent on the transformation programme (an estimated 20% of the BCS reserves) during a recessionary period in the world economy, how much scrutiny has there been by Trustees of the amounts spent? How can this expenditure be shown to be 'for the public benefit'. Surely competitive tendering was the minimum that should have been conducted for those suppliers awarded significant contracts? This has been neither confirmed nor denied. It does therefore question whether there was any competitive tendering.

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.

BCS Response
If the publication "Enabling the Information Society" is opened, this is the document containing our published strategic direction and there is not a single part of it that does not refer to our members. Two of the five strategic "pillars" are very specifically for our members and another one of the remaining three is specifically for those in academia. Lower level marketing strategies such as those for the recruitment and retention of members would not be expected to appear in a top-level briefing on strategic objectives.

LK's Response
The following are the only references to 'member' I can find in the Strategy, the rest maybe implied but it is obviously open to interpretation. I would suggest therefore that if, as the answer suggests, members are important, they should be more prominent in the strategies.
Member consultation
Our members are able to influence and shape policy by playing an active part in specialist groups, online discussions, forums and surveys
Member initiatives
Many BCS members contribute to 'IT Can Help', providing direct IT support to people with disabilities
Local membership groups
Local groups around the world allow our members to share information, network and discuss local issues. Online forums and other resources make this possible regardless of geographical boundaries
Further, I would not consider the recruitment and retention of members, a 'low level' marketing strategy, so much as a fundamental principle of the BCS and therefore surely it must be stated in the 'pillars'. Or perhaps this again reflects the level of importance BCS assigns to membership.

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

BCS Response
Please refer to (12) above. BCS is a membership organisation that exists to enable the information society, and the strategic aims set out what the members have agreed for themselves (through consultation and through their representatives on Council and the Trustee Board.) Remember that we are a charity which exists for the benefit of society - not a guild that exists purely to profit its own members.

LK's Response
There is no requirement for the membership to benefit from the Society and this has never been the case. However, it still has to recruit and maintain a membership base to fulfil it Royal Charter. Therefore, for no mention of this to be made in the high level strategic objectives makes no sense.

How did members agree the strategic objectives for themselves? The Trustees and possibly Council may have agreed them but they are only human and mistakes could have and probably have been made.

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.

BCS Response
This is a subjective observation that seems to be an extension of point 7 - please refer. The main source of disquiet with the changes has been the perception that members are not important, and that the Transformation Programme has been funded at the expense of membership activities. Both are incorrect perceptions which we have already sought to put right, but we will continue to work on our already extensive communications about these issues.

LK's Response
This does not answer the question and neither does the answer to point 7.
When the full impact of the structural changes were understood by Council and the member groups, a number of attempts at individual, group and as a coordination of member groups attempted to both discuss and present alternatives and evaluations of what was being pushed and rushed through. All of these were met in the ways described and duly ignored.
Indeed the calling of the EGM was met with the same response from the senior members of BCS.

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.

BCS Response
It has always been the case that those who chair our main Boards are selected through a process where anyone can be nominated, reviewed by our Nominations Committee which judges relevant skills and capability, endorsed by the Trustees and finally voted by Council to become Vice Presidents of the BCS. None of this has changed, although some pushed to change to a process which would put popularity before capability.

For any board to function effectively, the members of the board have to be competent to work in the area of the board. Many boards need a complex mix of skills and knowledge to function properly. Some of those calling for an EGM have always resisted any attempt to seek relevant competency for elected members, and whilst this situation persists, the Chairs of these boards have no option but to co-opt people on to their boards with the required skills and knowledge

LK's Response
The operation in practice of Nominations Committee can potentially allow the Trustee Board to manipulate the selection of candidates before Council is given the opportunity to make a selection.

Occasionally no choice has even been possible as only one candidate has been presented, for example when Alan Pollard was nominated for Deputy President.

Although not as overtly stated, this is just another example of the back-office view that 'elected' members have no skills or experience and therefore 'the right people' have to be 'selected'.

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

BCS Response
BCS is fortunate to be financially strong enough to employ around 300 permanent staff, some in administrative roles but many leading experts in IT and related qualifications and services. Our activities are a joint activity between staff and volunteers and it is right that all expert members of a Board or Committee should have a say in decisions.

If BCS staff members are required to be a member of a Board or Committee, rather than for example support the board in taking minutes etc., then they have to have the same voting rights and responsibilities as anyone else on the board or committee. We do not subscribe to the view that the members are the masters and staff our servants. In the 21st century, this is about team work of the highest quality.

LK's Response
How 'many' of the permanent staff are 'leading experts in IT'? Other charitable members' associations employ more experts in their areas to support members' professionalism and promote the public benefit.

It is not a question of master and servant relationship. No one has suggested that. It is more like a civil service relationship, and civil servants do not set agendas or oversee the work of MPs who are responsible to the electorate.

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

BCS Response
ITNow in March, which began production in February, carried an extensive update on transformation impact, as did the agenda for the February Trustee Board. Launching in September, no impact can be sensibly evaluated in less than three months and remember this is a 10 year strategy for the future health of the organisation, so there will be impacts that will not truly show and be measurable for some time to come. Council members have received information from the initial analysis of the impact of the transformation as part of the regular detailed reports they receive from our CEO.

LK's Response
There has been some 'reporting of change' after the event, with little to no consultation and justification. The BCS management seems to be confusing reporting, with consultation and decision making. There appears to have been no "Impact Analysis" undertaken as well as no "Expectation Management".

The CEO and Trustees agreed and decided that everybody else must conform.

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

BCS Response
If some people don't understand enough about the changes to BCS, the mission, vision and strategic direction, then no matter how much we feel we have communicated to the membership so far, there is clearly more we need to do. We will take this on board, but it didn't need a call for an EGM with a £100,000 price tag to make this point.

LK's Response
As noted earlier, all the approaches made by individual, committee and groups have made no difference, as there is no attempt or desire to listen to what the members have to say.
Accordingly there was no alternative but for members to call an EGM.

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

BCS Response
Please read the Annual Report and Annual General Meeting statistics. All our income, whether from membership subscriptions (£4.5m) or from products and services (£19m) goes to fund our charitable objectives - we do nothing else.

LK's Response
This is really hard to believe and if correct is fantastic.

One of the most successful charities in the country which reports that it uses 90% of its income to satisfy its charitable objectives still needs 10% to cover administration.

This needs to be published more widely.

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

BCS Response
We believe that based on the above evidence and all of the facts, this conclusion is totally wrong. The statement is without question completely wrong.

LK's Response
I and many others believe the above suggests to the contrary.


 

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59 Comments

The BCS response to point 13 underlines the big problem that many members have with the interpretation placed on BCS's "Raison d'Etre" by David Clarke, Elizabeth Sparrow and especially the immediate past president, Alan Pollard:

"Remember that we are a charity which exists for the benefit of society - not a guild that exists purely to profit its own members."

The BCS is NOT or SHOULD NOT BE "a charity that exists for the benefit of society", it SHOULD be a guild that exists mainly for the benefit of its own members. Because it is a not-for-profit organisation it enjoys charitable status and because it holds a Royal Charter BCS and its members should be mindful if an obligation to provide a benefit to society. This MUST NOT be its sole or primary aim, however.

If DC, ES and AP want to run an IT charity that exists solety for the benefit of society at large then they should resign from their executive positions within BCS and go off and found one. They can then ask for proper charitable donations to support their work and stop treating our membership fees as such.

Mr Gilliam: The BCS 'raison d'etre' as clearly stated in the Royal Charter which I can only assume you have not read is "to promote the study and practice of Computing and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public".

No suggestion of a members guild there. Maybe you are the one who should resign and set up his own Guild?

Ummm I do believe money (or dare I say it PROFIT !!!) made from one side of the business is not spent on private jets and holidays to the bahamas but actually on the membership side of the business.

So as a member myself you should be happy there is a commercial wing of the business (which other chartered institutes have also had for over 200 + years) that actually bank rolls us "normal" members...

Get with the program there are no scientists running the show any more - 2010 - not 1910 !

Interesting that two comments supporting the management felt the need to be anonymous :-)

The basic issue here is that professional managers are dictating the terms of the society - and members being told how to behave. In a membership society, the members should be telling the managers how to behave, what to do and what the goals are.

Len's complaints are entirely consistent with many reports I've heard on 'discussions' between the managers and membership (local and specialist) groups. (I'm a local branch committee member, which was the only reason I knew in advance that the 'brand' would be changing - still the first time I saw the new brand was when I saw a BCS stall at an event... I guess that means I'm 'aware' of the changes, whatever that is worth)

On Len's site about the AGM is one good example that I can verify to the extent that the 'splendid man from Glasgow' mentioned in the story was our branch chair, and he related the same story to us:
"The agenda had been arranged to allow minimal time for questions on finance but a splendid man from Glasgow protested very eloquently and very angrily that he had got up at 5am to get to the meeting only to find he was being patronized, told what had already been decided and was not able to make any substantive contribution."
http://bcsegm.blogspot.com/2010/04/support-from-david-muxworthy.html

I am one of those members referred to as "dormant". For many years, I was a membership assessor working in the NW Region and interviewing and assessing candidates for membership of the BCS. To that point, I was an "active" member. However, the BCS in its wisdom decided to centralise membership away from the regions to the London/Swindon areas, including disbandment of the Regional Managers. That decision made it impractical for me to juggle membership assessment with my employment and thus I support LK's comment about 'pro-bono work' (point 9). Membership assessment in the past was a rigorous process involving face-to-face interview following careful consideration of the candidate's submission. Nowadays, it seems more formulaic, less rigorous, less challenging and altogether easier to obtain professional membership. Now retired, I am thus pleased to remain 'dormant'.

"the membership activities are being funded to the tune of £2 million from our commercial activities" - If you add membership fees of £2 million, equal to £30 per member (it's probably more). It would be interesting to see a breakdown of what £4 million is being spent on membership activities. Especially when all you here is there are cuts.

Membership fees are c. £5 Million pa.
According to the Annual Report (Page 33) only £1.7 Million gets spent on the specialist groups and branches and £1.8 on "external relations". One can only assume therefore that the balance of £1.5 is subsumed in the overhead of the staff costs.

However, the CEO is always whinging that "the total Groups budget has been UNDERSPENT by up to 30% in every recent year". So how does he reconcile this with the above figures and the comment that the BCS commercial activities are funding the membersip?

Growth by QUANTITY not QUALITY.

Yes it is a real shame. Up to 2004 the society had c. 30,000 members and one had to pass a formal assessment and interview in order to become a member and Fellow.
Post 2004, in order to increase the numbers, quite literally anyone (IT or not) could become a member and fellow, simply by filling in a form. [It has become a standing joke for many that one can become a Fellow of the BCS by filling an online form - or so the impression has been given.]
So hey presto, suddenly the membership numbers doubled over a 4 year period with every waif and stray signing up for a free load of meaningless letters.

What could possibly be the reasoning behind these growth plans? Did the CEO wanted to leverage the membership volumes to grow his own personal empire, which he has now done?

I guess now the membership is no longer needed as it has served its purpose. Although, the £5 Million income stream is nothing to be sniffed at.

I concur with the statement "one had to pass a formal assessment and interview in order to become a member and Fellow" (Anon). I cannot remember the exact date of my own membership but do remember having to submit reams of professional accolade from other professional's, all master's of their own sphere's in addition to a lengthy three panel grilling.

So where do I see my membership ?.

Well, I get to view ITNow and Project Manager, occasionally when it is delivered, or if I have the time I can view ITNow on the web.

I can turn up to events mostly held in London,Swindon or Cambridge and pay additional fees for the privelidge. Since moving to Norwich some years ago this is not always convenient as you can imagine, notwithstanding additional travelling costs.

I can buy books with a "discount ?" from the BCS online book store and still get a better discount elsewhere.

Oh and my CITP is now currently worthless as I do not have a certificate to practise, apparently.

I did put all this forward in my communications with the BCS in one of their survey's. I find it fascinating and interesting that this debate is being held.

I count myself one of the silent majority here and I don't really have the time to read all the toing and froing.

From what I have seen the BCS's plans for the future seem pretty reasonable and therefore I give the benefit of the doubt and support them. I think IT in UK needs to progress and change, and this seems to be what's happening.

I have also found that BCS sends out more information and requests for input than you can shake a stick at, so no problem there so far as I can see. On the one occasion I officially fed back some comments I actually found the committee extremely responsive to my suggestions and ideas.

Very little in life is black and white. Having read something of the debate I have concluded that both sides have something meaningful to say. I have not yet finally decided which way I shall vote. Right now Im tempted to vote for the motions as the chair will no doubt vote all those who do not express an opinion against the motions and they will all be lost. All very democratic - not!

The Society (it is not yet an institute, despite what the above responses and the BCS website say) does need to improve the way it consults and communicates with its members.  Right now it is behaving like a few unsavoury local government departments used to do and keeping quiet about what its doing and not publishing all the papers and minutes that are generated for or from its meetings.  By keeping quiet it is giving the impression that it is (metaphorically) taking backhanders.The Freedom of Information act is there for a very good reason and the BCS should act as if it were covered by the Act. If it considers some of its discussions to be commercially sensitive then it should withhold the absolute minimum and it should say exactly why it is being withheld. That would stop a lot of the Chinese whispers that have caused this EGM call.  And why on earth isn't more material available to non-members?

At the same time as criticising the BCS, I would also say that I believe that the general direction that the BCS is taking is the right one. I was a member for a while back in the 1970s and went to a couple of meetings.& I very quickly decided that they were a bunch of &sock-knitters; and were driven by a local government mentality. I joined the IEE instead. As soon as the direction of the BCS changed I moved back.The trouble is the old local government mentality is still there, even though local government has moved on!

Shows how out-of-touch I have become in my senility when I have failed to pick up all of the above - especially when it comes from Len, whom I can well remember as a functioning member in Society arguments, with whom I sometimes agreed but whose views I always respected as coming from a member who wanted the best for the Society and the profession.
And that last word is the whole point - we are, or should be, in partnership to advance the profession of computing, or IT if you wish.
With the feelings raised here I am clear that the discussion/argument has to be heard - and that the cost of £100,000 (???) is not important when seen against the reserves of the Society now. When I volunteered and was elected Treasurer (Hon) in January 1969 they were negative and we first had to cut the staff back to 35!

In addition to the financial transparency being requested, "will the BCS Council consider a view for BCS contractual transparency"?. I would like to see all business contracts signed by the BCS (in my name as a member) up on the member's area of the web site in electronic form in full so that they can be scrutinised by the full BCS membership. Additionally I would also like to hear why I need to proffer my personal details when I want to accept a "free" offer. If it is free for BCS member's, just arrange to send us all "the product offering", again, alternatively, put it up on the member's area. I'm unconvinced that "deals" being entered into are worthy. After all, it's clear now that the BCS does not operate on behalf of the membership, if they did you would not have to give your details to all and sundry for further and future marketing purposes as this could just be actioned via BCS website advertising as is already happening.

Here is my view, convince me otherwise ?.

@ Mr R Fleming - sorry to be quite so formal but that's all I have to go on :-)

You asked: "will the BCS Council consider a view for BCS contractual transparency"? and suggested: I would like to see all business contracts signed by the BCS (in my name as a member) up on the member's area of the web site in electronic form in full so that they can be scrutinised by the full BCS membership.

Just a quick note to confirm that I will share this point with my colleagues on Council.

Please remember though that there is a discussion area on the BCS Member Network (established as part of the Transformation Programme) for direct dialogue between BCS members and their elected representatives on Council. Your suggestion is an ideal topic for that discussion group.

However, we must recognise that commercial sensitivity and contractual obligations may mitigate against a totally transparent display of detailed contract terms - after all the BCS membership includes many colleagues from the service provider and vendor communities so absolute disclosure of terms is likely to be even more problematic issue for BCS.

Finally, please be aware that the BCS Council is an advisory group that makes recommendations and advises Trustee Board, who are the governing body for BCS.

For many years I was an affiliate of the BCS and watched. The BCS seemed to be run by people in academic and local govt jobs and mostly irrelevant to me as a IT professional working in the commercial sector. In recent years the BCS has changed for the better and become relevant and I acquired professional membership. The BCS has become more visable publically.

What seems to be happening now is a dispute between the people who want the society to go back to what it used to be years ago (and therefore return to being irrelevant to me) and the people who want to keep moving forward in the direction the BCS has been.

There are issues but I think the current direction is broadly correct. This EGM has brought this out in the open, and that's a good thing. I hope the membership can accept the result of the EGM - whatever it turns out to be - and move on.

I have only recently joined the BCS having been a CEng and a Fellow of the IEE/IET and FRAeS for most of my career. Both these professional institutions required me to submit extensive evidence of my technical and professional achievements before I was granted membership. They have served me well – the IEE/IET in developing my computer engineering knowledge and the RAeS in helping me apply this knowledge within aerospace environments. The one area of computing that I always felt was sadly orphaned, was the IT that keeps UK business running, whether in manufacturing, services or retail.

Over the past 20-30 years I have dipped into the BCS on numerous occasions but I never felt compelled to join. The old style BCS did not seem to have the focus I was looking for. To be blunt, it seemed to serve the interests of a select minority, more like a Club than a learned society. The recent Transformation Programme gave the BCS the focus I was looking for. The BCS has shown welcome and courageous leadership in mobilizing the Transformation Programme and driving forward the professionalization of IT.

I have read the various arguments with interest and the debate has uncovered some important perceptions that certainly need to be addressed. Debate can be very beneficial, provided it is balanced and genuinely seeks to find a constructive way of moving forward. I am surprised that the issues leading to the call for an EGM were not raised and debated within the Society first. I am even more surprised that a relatively small number of members can call an EGM.

Clearly as such a newcomer to the BCS I do not know the personalities involved or the history of how the present situation arose, but I do hope that the BCS can find a way of moving the debate to a swift and satisfactory conclusion. The UK is on the verge of an industrial renaissance and the BCS can play a vital role. We should not throw it away.

As the EGM looms larger, whichever way we intend to vote, I think that we should all be thinking about what happens after 1st July, particularly the consequences of either or both of the first two (no confidence) EGM motions succeeding...

Here is my personal view of how things might then pan out:

No confidence in the current Trustee Board? Then the Trustees in question might do the *honourable* thing and resign as Trustees. Under the various BCS regulations, the constitution of Trustee Board is intrinsically linked to a combination of ex officio and elected Trustees; so any resigning ex officio Trustees would also presumably resign their qualifying offices because they would otherwise be blocking a reconstituted Trustee Board. As far as the elected Trustees [for the "current" TB] are concerned there were three: two have already stood down to support the EGM (Len Keighley and Elisabeth Somogyi) leaving one (Bob Harvey). This would leave BCS with a very serious governance problem because the election processes to replace any or all of those who may feel compelled to resign are lengthy and rigorous.

No confidence in the Chief Executive? Again this could be a protracted, costly minefield for BCS if David Clarke felt compelled to resign. The ostensible financial performance of BCS under his stewardship *might* be considered as grounds for constructive dismissal. Nevertheless, the recruitment process for a CEO is neither quick nor cheap.

Please note that I make these comments simply to provoke wider thinking about the potential consequences, rather than to endorse any outcome - either way.

My own interpretation of the three EGM motions, is that only the third motion (suspending the Transformation Programme) sets out the desired consequence for subscribers; whereas the 'no confidence' motions are silent on the desired consequences.

Hence my suggestion that we should think carefully about the outcomes that *might* follow from the EGM. I have no 'skin in the game' for the EGM, beyond my own votes, but I have given some thought to the processes that may have to be invoked and I honestly think that we all need to be properly prepared and aware.

Maybe there is a general cynicism with Managements in general, and from Managements looking down on the great ignorant unwashed. The biggest problem I see is that the Management compares itself only with its own peers, so the ethos and elitism become self perpetuating. My perception of the BCS’s strategy is that of a descent into the commercial world. No, I know that we cannot be removed from any commercialism: and yes, the old constitution had many faults, but the changes that started pointing us in a better direction have become diverted. Perhaps my view is naïve and reactionary, but I liken it to “degrees for sale”. The membership of the organisation may have increased, but then making it less difficult to join tends to do just that. Whereas I am proud to have “CEng” after my name, the “CITP” is seen as a bit of a joke – basically a badge for sale. The commercial bias is what the BCS management want - it is the only paradigm that they understand. And of course, if the money isn’t flowing in, how can they justify their pay? By the way, isn't KPMG now implicated in the Hontex scandal? In 2008, didn't an independent report commissioned by the Justice Department conclude 'that the "improper and imprudent practices" of now-bankrupt subprime lender New Century Financial were condoned and enabled by the company's independent auditor, KPMG.', and weren't they sued for that? And by Xerox shareholders? Didn't Siemens replace them with Ernst & Young after their bribery case? And didn't Fannie Mae sue them too, with a very opaque settlement against KPMG just recently?


I have only recently joined the BCS having been a CEng and a Fellow of the IEE/IET and FRAeS for most of my career. Both these professional institutions required me to submit extensive evidence of my technical and professional achievements before I was granted membership. They have served me well – the IEE/IET in developing my computer engineering knowledge and the RAeS in helping me apply this knowledge within aerospace environments. The one area of computing that I always felt was orphaned, was the IT that keeps UK business running, whether in manufacturing, services or retail.

Over the past 20-30 years I have dipped into the BCS on numerous occasions but I never felt compelled to join. The old style BCS did not seem to have the focus I was looking for. To be blunt, it seemed to serve the interests of a select minority, more like a Club than a learned society. The Transformation Programme has now given the BCS the focus I was looking for. It has demonstrated leadership and courage in launching the Transformation Programme and in striving to enhance the professionalism of IT.

I have read the various arguments with interest and the debate has certainly uncovered some important perceptions that need to be addressed. Debate can be very beneficial, provided it is balanced and genuinely seeks to find a constructive way of moving forward. I am very surprised that the issues leading to the call for an EGM were not raised and debated within the Society first. I am even more surprised that a relatively small number of members can call an EGM.

Clearly as a newcomer to the BCS I do not know the personalities involved or the history of how the present situation arose, but I do hope that the BCS can find a way of moving the debate to a quick and satisfactory conclusion. The UK is on the verge of an industrial renaissance and the BCS can play a vital role. It would be a tragedy to throw this opportunity away.

Having read most of the discussion about the EGM, across as many channels as possible, it has occurred to me that nobody in the past couple of months has remarked anywhere on the absolutely fundamental aspect of the BCS Transformation Programme: the only reason BCS could embark on a £multi-million transformation in the first place was entirely due to the substantial reserves accumulated in recent years - under the stewardship of successive Trustee Boards and the present Chief Executive, David Clarke.

Perhaps we need to acknowledge that, either by prudent, strategic management over a number of years; or by a long streak of accidental but unfailingly consistent and unerringly good fortune, the BCS found itself with adequate funds for a major transformation.

Of course, if the enabling financial reserves had not been there, we would not have had a Transformation Programme and, ergo, the forthcoming EGM.

So the question that niggles me, as a student of organisational behaviour, might be: is the BCS therefore now a 'victim' of the unexpected consequences of its own ongoing "success as an organisation?"

(I use quotation marks because I expect there will be widely differing perspectives of success.)

I agree that the EGM will promote some healthy debate but may also be faltering steps of a society trying to find it's position as a profession.
I too went through the overly rigorous and archaic induction process. The accountants only have to pass an exam but a computing degree was not good enough for BCS - we have moved forward since then and is a breath of fresh air.
Come on folks - let's stop having petty arguments in public and act as professionals.

Several people have expressed concern about the EGM Special Resolution to increase the qualifying level for an EGM to be called, from 50 members to 2%.

BCS is a Charity so I looked at the Charity Commission website and found the following guidance:

Extraordinary and Special General Meetings (EGMs and SGMs)

100. Members can ask the charity trustees to call an EGM if they feel that the charity trustees are not fulfilling the charity's aims and objectives, or where they feel the charity is not being administered effectively. The members can use an EGM to seek explanations from the charity trustees for a course of action, or encourage fuller discussion on an issue. The governing document will usually set out the number of full members required to request an EGM, and how this should be done. If the request is properly made, the charity trustees cannot refuse (if they do, the members can usually call the meeting themselves).

101. For charitable companies company law provides that an EGM can be requested by 10% of those entitled to vote at such a meeting. This provision may be overridden by a lower figure (but itself overrides any higher figure) specified in the articles of association. If the directors fail to call a properly requested meeting, the members have a statutory right to call the meeting themselves.

Full details at: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc48.aspx#36

'Skin in the Game'
If you are going to quote Buffet, do try and get it right.
Of course you have no skin in the game - there is no signficant investment / financial commitment as a trustee, council member or employee.

However YOU ARE A TRUSTEE now, so of course you have a vested interest in the outcome of the EGM.
And if you think you don't, then you should.
Hence, your comments may be personal, but as a newly elected trustee of the BCS Trustee Board you should realise that your views should out of courtesy and respect be discussed with your colleagues on the Trustt Board before being disseminated in this fashion, for even in this context you are supposedly still part of that group and therefore represent BCS Trustee Board.

Moreover, anyone with an ounce of business acumen would realise there are multiple solutions to every business challenge.
And the grimmest of pictures that you portray above merely belies your personal proclivities.
For example:
1. BCS does have a deputy CEO - Ian Ryder. As is standard in all organisations, should the current CEO need to stand down, the deputy CEO would assume an acting CEO position, until such time that a new CEO was recruited.
And the recruitment process for a CEO of a mere Charity can be cheap and fast if one so chooses.
2. Re: Trustee Board. 10 of the trustees are SELECTED, and only 5 are ELECTED by council.
All 10 of the Trustees SELECTED at the whim of the CEO, could be replaced easily, given the plethora of talent residing within the 70,000 strong member database, or from outside this pool as has been the case for a good number of this group.
Of the remaining 5 Elected members, only 1 represents the old Trustee Board, as the remaining 4 were only elected last month (May 2010) - an election process which only came about as a result of the call for the EGM and took just a couple of months.
And were it required, this process could be reduced further as in the case of the recent elections to the Elite committee,where the process was reduced to less than half the normal lead time in order to satisfy the President and CEO's agenda.

Maybe as a student of organisational behaviour it might be prudent to take a look in the mirror.

However, you are correct, 'we should think carefully about the outcomes that *might* follow from the EGM', but in a positive and progressive light, understanding that these would be trivial changes to enact and ones that hundreds of organisations across the world manage effectively all the time.

Can you confirm - are you now the self-appointed, official spokesperson for all BCS Trustee Board social media comms?

Which came first? - the chicken or the egg?

These "vast reserves" would have not been possible to amass were it not for the membership which was leveraged for the CEO's business purposes.

So is it success or manipulation?

Of course, it is debatable as to whether a CHARITY should be building up vast reserves. Do the Charities Commission have a view?

In this respect, The Trustee Boards resolution 5 to spend underfined amount (i.e. SOME) of these reserves to support the supposed transformation programme is really just a request for a blank cheque!

Oh dear - what a mess.

How on earth to vote when one believes that the present management of the BCS is utterly out of touch with a significant portion of its membership and needs a reminder that it's *not* all about the commercial side, but where one doesn't want to rock the boat to the extent of votes of no confidence? Probably "against" most of the motions.

How on earth to modify one's vote when the notice of the EGM is accompanied by very expensive and professionally produced propaganda from the current BCS management with no propaganda from those who called the EGM? And when one wonders how much of the "£100k" cost of the EGM is due to this propaganda? And where even the voting site has a "quick vote" button in favour of those distributing the propaganda? Ah... I think I just worked out how I'm voting.

If I recall correctly to become a fellow I had to submit a considerable amount of evidence in terms of academic publications, work and references. Whereas the CITP just arrived in the post, completely unexpected.

I suspect maybe the fellow has now been dulled down over the years.

My point exactly Dr Ducksbury. To achieve my CITP I had to go through a process similar to yourself in becoming a fellow.

Although I have been told my CITP status remains unchanged this is blatently "UNTRUE". Yes, you hear me correctly BCS, "UNTRUE".

I now discover that my CITP is not only worthless due to the (1) number of CITP's being given away for nothing;(2) that at the stroke of a pen the BCS decides to instigate "a license to practise" and (3) but that in order to re-achieve the "gold standard" I have to pay £120.00 (every 3 years) on top of my normal dues for the privilege.

I'm not against keeping up with CPD but surely as a professional in the industry I can choose my own path. I want an answer from the BCS as to why the BCS feels the need to be dictatorial in CPD terms. I suspect that finances are an issue here. Prove me wrong ?.

I look forward to receiving my free 'FBCS' in the post in order to re-instill my professional status.

Thanks for the help BCS. You have surely turned the corner into the twilight zone.

Other issues are abound but quite simply I have not got the energy to put them here right now.

@Warren

Council recently elected four new Trustees (myself included), who will take office from July 26th and will not fall within the EGM motion of no confidence in the "current" Trustee Board.

However, the quorum for Trustee Board is eight so, if the "current" Trustees resigned following a vote of confidence at the EGM, TB could not meet again until replacement ex officio Trustees had been appointed. This would effectively place the BCS into operational 'limbo' for several months as Trustee Board could not discharge any of its governance obligations.

And, of course, in a resignation scenario, the four recently elected Trustees might not be able to assume office next month, if the meeting on July 26th proved inquorate.

As I am yet to take office as a Trustee, I am at full liberty to express personal views.

Nevertheless, I fully recognise the potential sensitivity of my position so you will find that any of my views over the past few weeks have been limited to providing information and 'food for thought' where I think there is a gap.

Here are some further points:

The election of Trustees by Council last month was not connected in any way with the EGM. Each year Council has an election to fill vacancies, if any, on Trustee Board. Council has five such places.

Please note that the BCS Chief Executive does not appoint or elect Trustees.

The constitution of Council specifies the ex officio members of Trustee Board (please see the BCS website for further details). The BCS procedures for the nomination and election of Honorary Officers are well defined and take time.

My observation about the Chief Executive probably having a strong case for constructive dismissal is based on personal commercial experience. Compensation in such cases can be a high multiple of 'lost earnings.'


@Peter Crowther the Quick Vote function is by no means unique to the EGM and has appeared in previous BCS electronic voting. I believe that the Boards of many other organisations use this approach, invariably supported by clear communication of their (the Board's)rationale. Any Board is legally bound to act in the interests of the organisation.

@ego I am an elected member of Council (elected by the professional membership) who is engaging fully with a situation of interest to BCS members. I am not an official BCS spokesperson, just trying to make sure that we are all properly informed. And, of course, commenting openly and fairly rather than adopting a pseudonym.

Colin - "Any Board is legally bound to act in the interests of the organisation."

In the case of a no-confidence vote, they should still present both sides of the argument to all members. If doubt is being cast on the ability of the Trustee Board to act in the best interests of the organisation, then they should not be able to recommend a default vote in "the best interests of the organisation" - and I would be interested to see if the no-confidence vote fails whether the ballot could be declared null and void in court based on the obvious bias which is likely to occur.

I was probably going to abstain against all motions, but as somebody else earlier on pointed out, I don't want to be told how to vote - I'm an intelligent person, and if the Trustee Board and Chief Exec are prepared to treat paying members with such disdain, then I'm prepared to no-con the lot of them. They way they've behaved is comparable to Gordon Brown desparately trying to cling on to power after the general election - it smacks of power-hungry self-service, not acting in the best interests of the paying membership.

Colin, I think there's an important nuance that needs bringing out from a couple of your comments. You seem to be focused on the BCS as an organisation, referring above to its "success as an organisation" and suggesting that "Any Board is legally bound to act in the interests of the organisation."

I'm focused on a bottom-up, rather than a top-down view. This leads me to believe that the organisational view is not the only one.

With a company, the company has a duty to act in the interests of its *shareholders*. If the interests of the shareholders would be best served by winding up the company and redistributing the assets to the current shareholders, then the Board of the company should do exactly that. They would try hard not to, of course, as it would put them out of a job; but, nevertheless, the organisation should only survive for as long as its survival benefits the shareholders.

With a charity, the charity has a duty to act according to its objectives. As noted above, the sole objective of the BCS is "to promote the study and practice of computing/IT and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public". So we could be discussing how best the resources presently within the control of the BCS should be used to satisfy this objective; this presumably would include the powers in the Charter. The Board should surely act in the interests of satisfying the objective; not necessarily in the interests of the current organisation. This also opens up the debate of how that objective can best be satisfied, and it would appear that not everyone feels that an open debate has been held.

I accept this is a nuance, but I believe it is an important nuance. Many seem to take the BCS as a given and argue about its fine structure. To me, if a restructuring is in the works, then we should look at every part of the organisation's current and potential operations with a view to making appropriate uses of its resources. Is a single charity the most appropriate legal structure? As a provocation, why not use power 3(n) and the current resources to fund a much larger programme of computing education in the poorest nations of the world, thereby advancing education for the benefit of the public?

Many of us are engineers or students of other complex systems such as organisations or societies. We're used to analysing complex, multivariate systems and supplying innovative solutions; are we able to bring that analysis to bear on our professional organisation? And if not, why not?

Peter, your comment is well-reasoned, balanced and well-presented. I agree completely with your points.

@backbencher - the Trustees have presented both sides of the argument.

My personal view is that, almost without exception, the EGM signatories appear to have completely disengaged from the process, after having lit the blue touchpaper. Which has left the Trustees and the Chief Executive then to be roundly 'reprimanded' for failing to present information that is simply not there.


Colin you state "has left the Trustees and the Chief Executive then to be roundly 'reprimanded' for failing to present information that is simply not there.


The EGM Signatories and others' are asking for transparency and this I agree with. So let's have some more transparency here, or to put it another way, let's all be clear on the requirement. The EGM signatories want open financial information. I myself above have added to the mix and requested open contractual information, as the two are intrinsically linked. Are you suggesting, since you must obviously know by your statement above that financial and legal data does not exist, if this is a true statement then something smells like rancid fish. If this is untrue (as I suspect) then why set up your skittles. It would appear that it is not the EGM signatories ( or I, and I resent the motion )that have disenaged.

@Russell (Mr Fleming) my point (in response to Backbencher) was that the Trustees are being taken to task for not making the case on behalf of the EGM signatories, please look back and I think that you will see what I meant.

Please note that the EGM case has been published in full at http://yourfuture.bcs.org/upload/pdf/egm10-explanatory.pdf

If you recall, I undertook last week to pass on your request for contractual information and I promptly circulated your original comment and my personal reply directly to the Council mailing list, for consideration and discussion.

How can one vote against resolutions 4 - 6 when phrased "endorse the strategy ... developing the BCS into one of the world's leading professional institutes..." and thus against "...support ... new programmes proposed to implement the strategy..."? I dislike this kind of weasel wording: I think the word "strategy" should be replaced by "aim", as I don't think anyone could disagree with that as an "aim", but they could with the strategy being used. The question is, is the board following the correct strategy to achieve that aim? It is a question clouded by the wording.

"… either by prudent, strategic management over a number of years; or by a long streak of accidental but unfailingly consistent and unerringly good fortune, the BCS found itself with adequate funds for a major transformation". Maybe, just maybe, I've been paying too much for my membership all these years.

I have read the EGM case and the extremely biased rhetoric(s) in retort(s) from the BCS, not least the very same 'opener' in the voting pack that arrived this morning still touting the same flannel. The very same that you intend on defending as 'a BCS mouthpiece'. Wanton and deliberate alienation of members by the BCS trustees does not sit well. Research suggests I'm not the only member to feel so.

And if you don't like my responses then perhaps you ought to be clear and try less ambiguity, and maybe 're-read your own words'.

@ Mr Fleming my comments in this forum (and others related to the EGM) are my personal views and opinion. I realise that passions are running high and continue to fully respect the views of others.

I am a 'silent' member from the other end of the world, having joined the BCS for about 10 years now.

I do not fully understand all the details of the debate. But one thing is apparent --- all the info that I am now looking at are hosted on www.computerweekly.com and bcsegm.blogspot.com, rather than yourfuture.bcs.org where they should belong. Also they are completely missing from the printed mail that BCS has sent to me.

Why?

If I were not curious enough to read through the last few lines (http://yourfuture.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.13833) and also click the links, I would totally miss the chance to be appealed by both sides before casting my vote.

Why not make the EGM a fair game ?

As I am one of the silent 70,000, it appears to me that this "debate" is all about conflicting personalities in the HQ and active comittie members.

As I have absoloutely no interest in becoming involved in the Wheel Tappers and Shunters Social Club but really do have an interest in My Company and its employees providing professional IT excellence to my 11,000 customers, I would suggest the following motion at the next AGM: Get rid of all of the regional groups and the power-crazed cardigan wearers they contain and everyone start behaving like a professional organisation that I and most of the membership want to be a member of.

Stop thinking exclusive and elitist; Start thinking INCLUSIVE.

Hi Scubaboy - I couldn't agree with you more. I am a BCS councillor and have been for 2.5 years. 9 months ago I prepared a proposal for an all-elected council. It was shelved as it was deemed to contentious wrt to the power blocs of Branches Management Committee and Specialist Groups' Exec Committee.

If you are interested in seeing a copy of my proposal, please let me know your email address.

Charles

"Council is an advisory group that makes recommendations and advises Trustee Board, who are the governing body for BCS"

This brings into question an interesting governance issue.

If the above is allegedly true (on paper if nothing else), how is that the whole of the trustee board sit on council too i.e. What is the point of both groups if the strategically relevant of the two is automatically embedded in the other?

And how is it that the CEO sits UNELECTED, UNAPPOINTED and UNOPPOSED on Trustee Board, Council and the Elite committee?
Are people really that frightened of him and his infamous poisoned-pen emails?

And why is it that VPs SELECTED by the CEO automatically become trustees and councillors?

But Scubaboy, the problem with being one of the silent 60,000 is that the stock in trade phrase "it's all about about personalities" is just a standard cop out when the going gets tough. It's a completely pointless and meaningless statement.

The members who actually care about the Society(representing some 8% of the membership) i.e. the ACTIVE members who do everything voluntarily so that the non-active can reap the benefits of their pro bono labour want, quite SELFLESSLY, to make this organisation a better place for all their fellow members, rather than an elite gentlemans club which is what the current management and trustees would like.

How can these Trustees represent any form of future in the IT industry when, according to some pretty rudimentary research on the internet -
2 have been unemployed (for 9 years and 4 years respectively),
1 is virtually unemployed,
3 have been retired for quite some years,
4 are academics
and only 3 have any standing / relevance in the IT industry.

What sort of has-beens organisation is this, that it allows such people to become trustees in the first place?

And how can that track record of most non-current individuals possibly be clued up to the "FUTURE" of IT.

Seems that the vote of no confidence in this group makes a whole lot of sense.

"Quentin" Please don't shoot the messenger! The 'embedding' of Trustee Board within Council was part of a package of BCS reforms passed by the BCS at an EGM in 2003, 97% of eligible members apparently voting in favour of the changes. More details at:

"An EGM is held to discuss changes to the BCS Charter and Bye-Laws, 97% of eligible members vote in favour of change. Changes are approved by the Privy Council."
source:
http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conWebDoc.1580

The Chief Executive is a voting member of Council but not a member of Trustee Board. David Clarke has offered to attend BCS ELITE Committee meetings but is not a member of the Committee.

The Chief Executive is employed by BCS and thereby ineligible by Charity Law to be a BCS Trustee.

The Chief Executive does not select, elect or appoint BCS Vice Presidents. Council elects VPs.

If there is anyone here that would like to see a more thorough examination of the EGM issues, I recommend the LinkedIn discussion in the BCS Membership Group.

Absolutely loads of input from both 'sides' of the debate - and all of it from people with real names :-))

I am reading this for the first time (shameful that a member can have missed this whole thing until the EGM papers came through, but maybe that tells us all something). I have to say I agree that both sides have good points here. I agree with the direction the organisation is taking and think that the transformation programme is probable a good thing in the long run. However, if we are to be the standard bearers for IT best practice, then how we get there is as important as getting there. We cannot be seen to be talking about best practice, and not following it ourselves. If the signatories have doubts about the transparency and practices used in running this programme, and if the Chief Exec and Board of Trustees have nothing to hide, then they should make the information available that will prove their position and close this argument off. Not doing so only fuels the fire of suspicion. I am sure ‘opening the books’ to members scrutiny would have been a lot less expensive then the ₤100,000 quoted as the cost of the EGM.

It has all left a bad taste, and I am personally undecided which way to vote but the more the CE and Trustees Board try to discredit the signatories rather than prove them wrong through complete transapency, the more I swing to voting against the board.

@"Quentin" Please don't shoot the messenger! The 'embedding' of Trustee Board within Council was part of a package of BCS reforms passed by the BCS at an EGM in 2003, 97% of eligible members apparently voting in favour of the changes. More details at:

"An EGM is held to discuss changes to the BCS Charter and Bye-Laws, 97% of eligible members vote in favour of change. Changes are approved by the Privy Council."
source:
http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conWebDoc.1580

The Chief Executive is a voting member of Council but not a member of Trustee Board. David Clarke has offered to attend BCS ELITE Committee meetings but is not a member of the Committee.

The Chief Executive is employed by BCS and thereby ineligible by Charity Law to be a BCS Trustee.

The Chief Executive does not select, elect or appoint BCS Vice Presidents. Council elects VPs.

I agree with Peter Crowthers comment above. The debate is about how the society meets its objectives as a charity, and the requirements of the Royal Charter.

I believe the benefit to the public provided by the society is in ensuring that there are suitably qualified IT professionals at work in society, working responsibly and to a set of ethics and standards.

The public benefit is provided by ensuring those systems that keep our bank accounts working, and our cars on the road (to pick just two examples) are being designed and made by suitably qualified people, in the same way we rely on the GMC to make sure our doctors are suitably qualified.

I do not believe the society has any requirement to act as a provider of "charitable services" directly to the public by setting up programmes for public benefit. As admirable as these programmes are they should be left to other organisations with a specific charitable objective to resolve a particular problem. The society should, of course, encourage members to get involved in charitable activities, but it should be for members to decide how they do this, either through volunteering their time or making a direct financial donation.

From what I see the BCS has lost sight of its mission, and complicated things beyond comprehension.

Make your mind up Colin. You’re either expressing your own views or you are the messenger – the latter being the most likely option.

You didn’t answer all Quentin’s point(s). If your statements are true:-

1. The Chief Executive is a voting member of Council but not a member of Trustee Board. David Clarke has offered to attend BCS ELITE Committee meetings but is not a member of the Committee.

2. The Chief Executive is employed by BCS and thereby ineligible by Charity Law to be a BCS Trustee.

How is it that the CEO elects himself to sit on Trustee board meetings as a non-member of Trustee Board? Do ask him first, as not being a trustee yet, you are clearly uninformed on this point.
Was the CEO invited by the Elite committee or did he just impose himself as with trustee board?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Bill Goodwin published on April 14, 2010 12:51 PM.

Full Statement: Why disgruntled BCS members are demanding an EGM. was the previous entry in this blog.

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