Ian Dennis: In defence of the ACS changes

Ian Dennis

The recent proposed changes to the ACS legal structure and governance, and the adoption of a more outward looking ACS strategy, have upset some of its members.

Recent publicity has been mainly focused on a letter containing a number of unrelated queries, published and distributed by a small group of, mostly retired, members.

The published queries related to financial investments simply appear to display a misunderstanding of the ACS financial report, and/or the accounting standards required, others are fairly trivial matters. The queries were coupled with demands for resignations of both Board members and officers.

Ian Dennis
Ian Dennis, an ACS honorary fellow

It is concerning that these extreme views have been represented, or interpreted as representing, the views of a majority of ACS Fellows and HLM’s (Honorary Life Members).

I can only advise that, as a Fellow, and an HLM, and a 50+year ACS member, I do not share in these queries, or endorse these peremptory demands, and nor do most of the many senior ACS colleagues with whom I have discussed them.

ACS strategy is the responsibility of the elected members of ACS Congress and MC tasked by the membership to develop and approve it.

Whilst I share concern at the flawed process used for consideration and approval of the organisational changes, am quite comfortable with ACS strategy of reinforcing its relevance and its operations by continuing to broaden its innovation focus in a practical way.

I don’t believe that the problems with the process, and some queries as to the implications of some of the mooted constitutional and operational changes, constitute any significant repudiation of the ACS strategy, nor do they necessarily represent a lack of confidence in the ACS leadership.

There are, however, a number of ACS members, whose opinions I respect, who have legitimate concerns as to the content of any new constitution, and changes to Board nomination and selection processes. Some also want a more detailed justification for the suggested change to ACS legal structure from that of an Incorporated Association registered in the ACT, to a national Company Limited by Guarantee,( a change which I personally consider overdue, very sensible, and quite common as Incorporated Associations outgrow single States.).

It is my hope that calm and intelligent discussion will answer the legitimate concerns; establish an acceptable change process; and allow the ACS to continue to serve its members and the broader community even more effectively in the future.

Ian Dennis is a Fellow of the Australian Computing Society and an Honorary Life Member, with an active involvement with the society spanning more than 50 years.

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