Minutes of March 14 IT BoG meeting and request for ratification of tentative actions, April 4, 2006

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Dear IT Board of Governors,

Though we had a relatively small turnout for the March 14 BoG meeting in Punta del Este, we had some very nice discussions and voted on a number of issues. Please see the attached draft of the minutes for details.

On the other hand, we did not have a quorum which, according to our bylaws, means that any actions taken need ratification by a majority of the board. Accordingly, I request approval for the eight items tentatively decided at the meeting.

For the items are listed below please indicate your vote (Y or N) in the space next to the number.

  1. ________ Approve ITW 2007, in Bergen Norway. (Item 4 in the Minutes)

    Tor Helleseth gave an update on preparations. The budget has been approved by the treasurer. The consensus was there is no need to wait until Seattle to approve this workshop

  2. ________ Approve Technical Co-Sponsorship of the Winterschool of Information Theory 2007 organized by Institut Eurecom - Fr. (Item 4 in the Minutes)

    This is 9th Winterschool in this series, each having been lead by one of our most active members. Technical Co-Sponsorship means, principally, permission to use our name and logo in advertising.

  3. ________ Approve two new associate editors for the IT Transactions -- Ilya Dumer and Gadiel Seroussi, both for coding theory. (Item 7 in the Minutes. See also the also the last item of the Editor in Chief's report, emailed on March 8.)
  4. ________ Approve proposal to maintain the 2007 IT Society membership fee and IT Transactions hard copy fee at the 2006 levels. (Item 6 in the Minutes)

    These fees are $30 for membership, the transactions and the newsletter, and an additional $45 for hard copy. According to our treasurer, IT Society Finances are in good shape. An increase in fees might cause a further decrease in membership. Maintaining the fees at current levels appears to be the best option.

  5. ________ Approve the proposal that electronic access (via IEEE Explore) to past ISIT and ITW Proceedings be included in the regular IT Society membership (along with the IT Transactions and the Newsletter), for the next three years. The cost to the IT Society, which is estimated to be $10K USD per year, is proposed to be taken from IT Society Reserves for the next three yeas. To do so will require IEEE approval as a "New Initiative". (Item 6 in the Minutes)

    This action is viewed as means to increase the value of membership to Society members, and potentially, to increase membership. Society finances and reserves are in good shape. See discussion of reserves and new initiatives below. If after three years, we decide to continue this electronic access, the cost would need to become part of the regular operating budget of the Society.

  6. _________ Approve formation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Conferences to make a recommendation regarding the formation of a standing Conference Committee. (Item 11 in the Minutes)

    The benefits of a Conference Committee might include the pooling of resources and expertise into a committee that can make conference organizing easier (for example by producing a handbook), can provide consistent feedback and guidance to conference organizers and potential organizers, and can formulate conference policies and guidelines. It might also allow the Board of Governors meetings to devote less time to conferences at BoG meetings, and more time to other matters. The Ad Hoc Committee would be charged with making a recommendation to form or not to form such a committee, and if the former, to propose its charter.

  7. _________ Approve a conference registration fee rebate to have the effect of allowing non IEEE members to receive the IEEE Member registration fee if they join IEEE and the IT Society at the conference site. The rebate will take the form of an online credit that can be applied to join the society online. Moreover, for students, a credit will be issued for society membership, which can be used for the following year in the case of a student who already belongs to the society. The cost to the IT Society, which is estimated at $10,000 for one year, is proposed to be taken from IT Society Reserves for the next three yeas. To do so will require IEEE approval as a "New Initiative". (Item 11 of the minutes.)

    This proposal is viewed as a means of encouraging conference attendees to join the IT Society. In effect, it rolls back the clock and accomplishes what the attendee could have accomplished by joining IEEE and the IT Society just prior to registering in advance for the conference. This proposal is for a one year trial. See discussion of reserves and new initiatives below.

  8. __________ Approve a proposal to fund the cost of allowing local students to purchase inexpensive day passes to ISIT for the next three years. The anticipated cost, which is $3500 per year, is proposed to be taken from IT Society Reserves for the next three yeas. To do so will require IEEE approval as a "New Initiative". (See Item 6 of the Minutes, the last two paragraphs.)

    This proposal is viewed as means of encouraging local students to become interested in information theory. If after three years, we decide to continue this, then the cost would either be absorbed by the conference or would become an item in our regular operating budget.

IT Society Reserves and New Initiatives

For the first time in some years, Society Finances are in very good shape, meaning that we had a comfortable net surplus in 2005, which went into reserves, and partly due to this, a comfortable level of reserves. As a result, it is the recommendation of the treasurer and the other society officers that we can prudently dip into the reserves for certain special purposes. On the other hand, we are cognizant of the fact that some of this recent surplus is a one-time windfall, in that conferences surpluses from both 2004 and 2005 were credited to our 2005 balance sheet. From now on, only current conference surpluses will be credited.

By IEEE policy, which is guided by the New York state laws for nonprofit organizations, each year we must propose a balanced budget for our operating expenses. Any net surplus in a given year, cannot be spent in that year. Instead it goes into reserves, from where it can only be spent under special circumstances. The principal such circumstance is a "New Initiative", such as those proposed above, for some specific purpose, such as membership development. As the word, "new" implies, there is a limit (three years I think) for the number of times we can draw on reserves for the same item. New Initiatives must be approved by the IEEE. New initiatives in one year are limited to 2% of our reserves, except that in certain happy circumstances, which apply today, an additional 1% can be spent. Accordingly, we estimate that the IT Society is eligible for approximately $30,000 in new initiatives.

Thanks in advance for giving this your attention,

Best regards, Dave