BCS rebels publish manifesto for vote of no confidence

Members of BCS, the chartered institute for IT, have published a manifesto raising questions about the organisation as it gears up for an extraordinary general meeting on 1 July.

Members of BCS, the chartered institute for IT, have published a manifesto raising questions about the organisation as it gears up for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 1 July.

The move is the latest round in the war of words between the BCS and disaffected members who are pressing for a vote of no confidence in the institute's leadership and a temporary halt to its £5m programme to rebrand as a professional body.

The manifesto, which has been dismissed by supporters of the BCS management as misleading, says EGM signatories are not against progress, and that they welcome the introduction of new professional qualifications and other key parts of the BCS' rebranding programme.

"But we have grave concerns about the governance of the BCS, as evidenced by several major recent decisions. We have tried over the last year or so to resolve these via the normal BCS procedures, without success," it says.

The document alleges that the BCS trustee board has not provided BCS council members with "information and due diligence" and financial details about the transformation programme, despite "repeated requests" to senior BCS officials.

The group's claims have been rejected by supporters of the BCS board. Colin Beveridge, a recently appointed trustee, said he had serious concerns that the manifesto could mislead BCS members.

Writing on a Computer Weekly blog, he said, "I followed the situation very carefully and I cannot remember any instance of information being 'repeatedly requested' (or at all).

" My recollection is that members of council did not pursue the matter; indeed, due to busy agendas (and highly positive meetings), I believe that there were no questions at all."

Beveridge also disputes claims by the signatories that they have brought the EGM after exhausting internal avenues to address their concerns.

"I respectfully suggest that further opportunities were available: the EGM signatories could have presented their case/concerns formally to council, or tabled a special resolution for the AGM, either in November 2009 or March 2010, instead of going directly for an EGM," he said.

The EGM's supporters, which include former trustees, a former BCS president and leaders of BCS member groups, are using the manifesto to raise a series of concerns about the way the BCS supports and communicates with its members.

They claim:

• There has been a lack of openness and consultation between the BCS, its member groups, and council.

• The organisation has become permeated with a business management culture, rather than a participatory culture needed by a modern membership charity.

• New regulations and procedures have hindered the flow of information in the BCS.

• Reforms have reduced members' representation in the organisation

• Changes to the rules for member groups' work have damaged the ability of member groups to act effectively, and "sapped the time and energy" of active members.

• Some contracts have been awarded without going out to tender.

The BCS is declining to comment publicly on the row, but it has sent its 70,000 members brochures defending its record. It has created an in-depth web site and is taking a road-show around the UK to encourage BCS members to vote against the EGM motions.

BCS chief executive David Clarke has previously written an opinion article in Computer Weekly defending BCS' strategy.

Len Keighley, who resigned as a BCS trustee to co-ordinate the EGM, said the BCS could have avoided the need for an EGM if had been willing to address the issues raised by members.

"I think all the way along they have chosen the wrong way to respond. I would not have wanted to keep at arm's length everyone who signs the EGM. I would have brought them in," he says.

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