Computing Profession From the President

To the Members of ACM

  1. Article
  2. Author
ACM President Yannis Ioannidis

This is an update on the efforts of the ACM Executive Committee and Council to draft a longer-term strategic plan for our organization. At the core of our discussions have been critical and urgent issues raised by members during the Q&A process that ran during the recent ACM General Election, which also covered those I had presented in my candidacy statement. In my answers during that process, I promised to establish several Presidential Task Forces (PTFs) to investigate the issues raised and recommend concrete actions to address them. Considering the needs and priorities of ACM itself, the broader computing community, and society at large, the ACM Council has now endorsed 10 PTFs as the core dimensions of our strategic work. The strategic plan that will result from all PTFs together has been called ACM 4.0, an analogy to ACM entering the fourth quarter-century of its life. The main objectives of the PTFs are briefly described here.

Three PTFs address issues of ACM Membership:

  1. Membership Model: Exploring new membership models that create the sense of a unified large community but still convey the feeling of "home" to each member, offering different benefits that are meaningful to different constituencies. Identifying membership models that will entice all those who benefit from ACM to become members and will inspire those who are members to become volunteers.
  2. Globalization: Exploring different pathways toward geographic diversity at all possible levels: election and award candidates, volunteer leaders, board and committee members, and members in general. Investigating the formation of additional regional councils or other forms of governance structures that will collectively cover the world.
  3. Youthification: Exploring different pathways toward age diversity, with emphasis on the younger generation, at all appropriate levels: board and committee members and members in general. Identifying engaging activities to attract the pre-college generation to computing.

Two PTFs address issues of services to society at large:

  1. Code of Ethics: Establishing mechanisms to promulgate the ACM Code of Ethics, familiarize our community with the essentials of the Code, and educate it on ethical issues in general. Investigating how the Code, which applies to individuals, may become relevant to companies and other legal entities as well for the benefit of all.
  2. UN Sustainable Development Goals: Exploring appropriate mechanisms for ACM members to offer their computing technologies expertise in the context of multidisciplinary efforts toward achieving the 17 UN SDGs (and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change).

Two PTFs address issues of services to ACM members:

  1. Open Science: Establishing services to help researchers operate according to the Open Science paradigm (which includes Open Access as an important component) and the demands it brings, for example, reproducibility of experiments, transparency throughout the research life cycle, and new forms of scholarly communication and reviewing.
  2. Products and Services Portfolio: Taking a fresh look at the overall portfolio of ACM products and services, through the lens of the continuously evolving and diversified needs of different parts of the computing community, and examining issues such as the SIG structure, DL functionality, career development, mentoring, and others.

One PTF addresses issues of ACM finances:

  1. Financial Model: Designing a new financial model that will ensure the prosperity of ACM, in the context of a potentially new membership model and a renewed portfolio of products and services, in the fast-approaching era of ACM Open.

Two PTFs address issues of ACM internal processes:

  1. Regional Offices: Exploring the establishment of regional ACM offices around the world. Identifying the services to be offered by regional staff. Establishing a process for optimizing the choice of location and size of each office based on relevant parameters.
  2. Bylaws: Reexamining some fundamental aspects of our current bylaws that affect the effectiveness of ACM as a scientific professional society, including the lengths and limits of the terms served by leaders in key offices, and the structure of the Council with respect to its representativeness of all ACM member constituencies.

There are several bilateral connections and dependencies between these PTFs as well as between them, the currently established Councils and Boards, the SIGs, and staff, affecting their individual timing and mutual interactions. The goal is for all PTFs to have delivered their reports by early fall. Recruitment of PTF chairs and members is under way, proceeding both by invitation and through an open call for willing qualified members. I am asking all of you to step forward and contribute your time and expertise to this important strategic effort. ACM 4.0 will be what we all together make it to be!

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