IEEE Computer Society


(Answers to each question were limited to 150 words)


Question 1

The IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB) is a very large board consisting of representatives from a variety of disparate groups: small societies, large societies, presidents, and division directors. The IEEE TAB structure has been criticized as unwieldy and unproductive.

In your opinion, are there any alternative structures that would make the IEEE TAB more effective and productive. Why, or why not? Please explain any changes you would encourage and how you would persuade TAB to embrace these changes?

TAB’s size and structure does hinder its agility and responsiveness, and TAB needs to reach consensus on the problems of its present organization and develop appropriate responses. The structure discussed at the TAB series in February has promise; it has a smaller representational body for operational issues, and an all-presidents body for strategy and discussion. TAB should continue to study it and other alternatives, and definitely move towards selecting and voting on the best alternative structure.

TAB is making operational changes to improve responsiveness. Holding the TAB committee meetings a month or more before the TAB/BoD series will allow email discussion and vetting of proposals before the TAB meeting; this, plus more efficient conduct of TAB meetings through more focused discussion, will make these meetings more effective.

I would challenge TAB to come back with an evaluation of its problems and their solutions, and then to develop an implementation plan.

Question 2

The IEEE faced financial deficits when its investment returns fell short and it was no longer capable of maintaining its practice of deficit spending. The IEEE Board responded by revising its investment policies and spending practices. As a result, the IEEE returned to a positive financial position. But corporate spending is increasing, and it has a direct impact on funding allocations and infrastructure costs for societies. Several large and small societies are facing current and future deficits unless they deeply cut expenses or greatly increase revenues.

How would you ensure that the IEEE follows prudent financial management practices? How would you address society concerns about their deficits?

IEEE has a balanced Operating Budget requirement. In recent years the actual results have been significantly more positive than the budget. However, almost all expenses the Board votes in during the year increase the Infrastructure Charge, which is a serious concern for S/C financial health; thus, mid-year requests for additional expenditures must be thoroughly vetted and justified.

Since the aggregate actuals bottom line of both the IEEE and the S/Cs have been positive, there is no reason any entity should go bankrupt; however, redirecting expense allocations and revenue streams within TAB must be done without interfering with the entrepreneurial spirit which has served IEEE so well.

We need to control the Infrastructure Charge; TAB has passed a motion on limiting its year-to-year growth. The IEEE Infrastructure Oversight Committee must be much more aggressive in delving deeply into current expenditures and requests for increased funding; also, members should have longer terms.

Question 3

The IEEE Computer Society has a presidential initiative to reach out to underserved and underrepresented communities worldwide, including women, minorities, and IT practitioners.

Explain how the IEEE can best support efforts to encourage diversity in the technical profession. What role can IEEE play in reaching out to these communities?

IEEE can actively reach out to members of the underrepresented communities and minorities in our fields by ensuring they are aware of opportunities in IEEE, involving them in activities, planning and governance at the various IEEE levels, and presenting role models.

A major long-term approach for women, underrepresented communities and minorities is to fill the K-12 pipeline, reaching both students and their teachers/councilors. We need to work with other technical and national professional societies, and industry, all of which have strong interest in this effort. An effective approach is personal contacts through visiting schools and councilors; chapters can be a strong enabler for local interactions. Attractive web offerings will also be important.

The IT community offers a great opportunity for IEEE; I feel very strongly that we must pro-actively engage it with publications, meetings and web offerings. Again, our chapter structure will be invaluable.

Question 4

What are your three most important priorities for your presidential year? What specific leadership skills do you have to help accomplish these priorities?

MEMBERSHIP: retain GOLD members, learn from the increase in membership in Regions 7-10, and reverse the membership loss in Regions 1-6. We need a flexible set of membership benefits. We must move into new areas, like services, software and applications - areas of major growth worldwide.
FINANCES: With reserves at an all-time high, we need to develop a long-term policy on their growth and wise use. We must control Infrastructure Charges, avoid bankruptcy of OUs, and allow OUs with adequate reserves to access them.

GOVERNANCE: IEEE and TAB governance needs to be more efficient and responsive, and more global - with present trends, Regions 7-10 membership will be half of IEEE membership within 10 years.

With 3 years on the BoD and 15 years TAB, I have been in leadership positions at all levels of IEEE. I understand IEEE, will listen, develop consensus, and work to reach our goals.

Question 5

Association trends indicate that members want greater return for their dues investment and are moving from “one size fits all” towards unbundled member services. IEEE 2006 President Michael Lightner has focused IEEE leadership on the “membership challenge” to improve membership value and expand the traditional IEEE member base. President Lightner created a committee to deconstruct the current IEEE membership model, evaluate alternatives, and make recommended changes to the IEEE Board of Directors.

What is your view of IEEE’s membership challenge, and what new membership models would you propose?

The “cafeteria model” membership challenge from President Lightner has been a valuable exercise, but results indicate it would disrupt IEEE dramatically, with major funding difficulties for many valuable current activities. We do need to increase member benefits, with a flexible menu of benefits - one size does not fit all. There is a major ongoing study addressing membership models, and we should await their conclusions.

IEEE should never become an elitist organization; it should be open to the widest spectrum of those interested in our fields of interest. We already have limited dues for countries with low incomes; to further lower dues would increase the subsidies for membership, increasing the Infrastructure Charge and adding stress to OU finances. However, I do favor a bridge to retain recent graduates over their first years after graduation, e.g., through a subsidized 3-4 year membership at graduation.

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