IEEE 2015 Constitutional Amendment – Opposition Ballot Statement

John Vig, 2009 IEEE President and CEO has developed an opposition response for the annual ballot.  He is joined by Cleon Anderson, 2006 IEEE President, and Ray Findlay, 2002 IEEE President in this statement (along with other IEEE leaders)

The proposed 2015 IEEE Constitutional Amendment:

  • Would enable a small group to take control of IEEE,
  • Would eliminate the 10% of membership (~35,000 currently) minimum participation requirement – a fundamental safeguard of members’ rights. Instead of increasing members’ participation, it all but eliminates the threshold. The proposed amendment would make it possible to amend the constitution, on shorter notice, by <0.03% of membership (100 voters if 67 of them vote yes).
  • Would move vital parts of the constitution to the bylaws – which will be subject to change by a small group, the Directors, on shorter notice,
  • Transfers of power from about 350,000 voting members to a possibly small group of insiders,
  • Would remove constitutionally mandated regional representation from the Board of Directors thereby making it more likely that no Asian, European, Latin American or Canadian representatives will be on the Board of Directors,
  • Would remove constitutionally mandated technical activities representation from the Board of Directors thereby making it possible for a small group of bureaucrats and professional managers to take control of IEEE.

How has the current constitution limited IEEE?

John Vig, 2009 IEEE President and CEO
Cleon Anderson, 2005 IEEE President and CEO
Ray Findlay, 2002 IEEE President

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You are encouraged to post a comment to this discussion — please indicate your name, and IEEE affiliations so that other members can get a sense for the level of concern related to this IEEE Constitutional Amendment.

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13 Responses to IEEE 2015 Constitutional Amendment – Opposition Ballot Statement

  1. Jim Isaak says:

    I find this set of proposals (yes, I did read the full IEEE amendment information) most disturbing. It will destroy the volunteer-staff partnership that has made IEEE so productive over the last decades. Centralization of all control, potentially into a small, elite Board that can be dominated by non-members pursuing objectives that will alienate volunteers, authors, conference leaders, and collaboration. IEEE has been member controlled for over a century, there may be things to fix, but this is not the right path.
    Jim Isaak, 2003/4 IEEE Board member, 2010 President IEEE Computer Society, 2015 SSIT VP
    senior life member – active historically with IEEE Standards, IEEE-USA, Region 1, ABET/CSAB

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Vig says:

      The proposed amendment:

      • Would enable a small group to take control of IEEE,

      • Would move vital parts of the constitution to the bylaws – which will be subject to change by a small group, on short notice,

      • Would transfer power from the 400,000+ members to a possibly small group of insiders,

      • Would remove regional representation from the Board of Directors thereby making it possible that no Asian, European, Latin American or Canadian representatives will be on the Board of Directors,

      • Would remove technical activities representation from the Board of Directors thereby making it possible for a small group of bureaucrats and professional managers to take control of IEEE.

      • Would eliminate the 10% of membership minimum participation requirement – a fundamental safeguard of members’ rights. Instead of striving to increase members’ participation, it eliminates the threshold. The proposed amendment would make it possible to amend the constitution, on short notice, by as few as four voters if three of them vote YES.

      How has the current constitution limited IEEE?

      For further discussions, please visit https://ieeeconstitutionamendment.wordpress.com/

      John Vig, 2009 IEEE President and CEO

      Like

      • John Vig says:

        Correction: near the end of my comment, the “by as few as four voters if three of them vote YES” should be “as few as 100 voters if 67 of them vote YES.” Although the proposed amendment does not specify a number, New York State law specifies a minimum, 100. As IEEE is incorporated in New York, it must follow New York law. Of course, IEEE could, and should, have left the quorum unchanged.

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  2. W. Jeffrey Rowe says:

    There must be a membership minimum participation requirement (I would propose 20% or more) to ensure that amendments are passed by a significant fraction of the membership. This is a common requirement (with higher thresholds) in other organizations where I have experience, such as professional and homeowners associations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Harold Flescher says:

    My past experience – Treasurer of IEEE, twice past treasurer of TAB, VP TAB, Director IV, President NPS Society, lots more.
    First can we state that the problem we are trying to solve? Can anyone tell me? Below is the detail of my objections. I did notice that the statement of why this was necessary from IEEE Secretary Famouri, was pulled from the website interestingly. I was going to refut it but it went poof into the IEEE IT ether. I guess one of the strong questions to ask is whether or not we want IEEE to be significantly different from it is. This would do it. Here are my, ever terse😇, comments to my first reading of the new Constitution.

    From Harold Flescher – notes on the new constitution
    1. THE primary problem is voting on a Constitution without knowing the Bylaws. This is exacerbated by shifting many of what today are Constitutional decisions (which require the 2/3 vote of the members of the IEEE – which is being lowered to 10% – a very studious distribution) to the ByLaws (which only require the 2/3 vote of the IEEE Board of Directors
    We are being asked to vote on Constitutional changes without knowing what it will mean when the changed Constitution says “as defined in the bylaws”. It is important to know that making changes to the Constitution requires a vote of all of the voting members of IEEE. My gessoes the BoD will be asked to put this to the members this summer. A change to the bylaws can be done by the BoD, and maybe by the new Assembly if that’s what the bylaws say, but unfortunately we don’t know what the bylaws will say. Methinks that IEEE, using the word volunteer in many different ways, has significantly different meanings for each construction.
    Also note that, if this passes, a new set of bylaws MUST also be IMMEDIATELY (my guess would be the Nov2015 meeting) approved as one can’t follow the new constitution without the changes to the bylaws. Of course, only the Board of Directors needs to approve the new set of Bylaws. And I’d bet they already have most of it written for passage at the Novenber 2015 BoD meeting, and they won’t show it to us why?
    In the USA, voting for this Constitution change without knowing what the Bylaws are is known as BUYING A PIG IN A POKE – ergo you pay the price of a pig but you really don’t know what you are going to get after you pay.
    2. So what are the major changes.
    Membership
    This gives the BoD the right to change the rights and names of memberships. Today you have to be a full member, Member or Senior Member to have voting rights. Who might also have voting rights? BUYING A PIG IN A POKE
    NEW – eliminate operational procedures that are currently well defined in, or more appropriate for, the IEEE bylaws or other lower-level governing documents
    ============so why aren’t told what they are? Remember, any changes to the Bylaws are done simply on the vote of the Board of Directors. Changes to the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Members, Senior Members and Fellows of the IEEE. Do you want to give more power to the Board of Directors? BUYING A PIG IN A POKE
    NEW – you are changing the number of people on the Assembly to a minimum of 9 people elected by the voting population (which we don’’t know yet). Elected from what constituency?
    =============The Assembly has great power in selecting high level electees like the Treasurer and Secretary. How will the assembly be split – past directors, people from industry, etc. Today we know the assembly consistes of the President, and 20 MGA and TAB Directors. What might it be in the future? BUYING A PIG IN A POKE
    New – create a closer tie to IEEE’s Certificate of Incorporation, the document that legally establishes the organization.
    El Crapo” and I’m embarrassed buy their statement.. We are throughly and legally tied to our Certificate of Incorporation. Our audit has never questioned this. Another thing the BoD can change.
    The worst change – “The number of Directors, term of office, and the method of election or appointmnt and eligibility shall be specified in the bylaws. Damn, those pesky bylaws that we have yet to see. Our 20 Directors,, elected by the members of TAB or appointed by MGA, are the majority of the voting members of the IEEE BoD today. Are we the volunteers and members of these organizations going to lose control or the BoD in the bylaws? Why do I think this is the path to controlling the societies as well. This, indeed, is BUYING A PIG IN A POKE

    Voting for the new constitutional changes move more decisions that today reside with the members and OUs to the BoD, which isn’t like the BoD we currently have. Sure we need to make changes in IEEE, but don’t we want to control them rather than putting the power into 2 bodies (Assembly, Board of Directors) that have yet to be designed?

    PS- was the Constitutional Mapping Chart comparison I saw with the new words in yellow done to intentionally prevent reading them

    Plus what John Vig said😱

    Liked by 1 person

  4. W. Ross Stone says:

    You can tell the proposed amendment is really bad when I find myself in complete agreement with what both Hal Flescher and John Vig have written! Indeed, as written, the proposed “amendment” (it is really an almost total re-write of the constitution) moves all of the critical factors to the bylaws. The bylaws are unknown. Indeed, the proposed amendment doesn’t even provide a mechanism for writing them. What is apparent from the proposed amendment is that a small group of people, almost totally not responsible to the members of the IEEE, would have control over all aspects of IEEE governance. We could end up with a Board and Assembly that represented one Society or no Societies, one Region or no Regions, or had members who had no qualifications whatsoever as electrical engineers. This is the ultimate power grab. I urge all Society Presidents, Division Directors, and Regional Directors and representatives to inform your constituency about the true nature of this amendment, and urge members to vote against it. Indeed, I urge TAB and MGA to consider passing motions at the upcoming OU meetings asking the BoD to remove this amendment from the ballot.

    W. Ross Stone, Life Fellow and Honorary Life Member, AP-S AdCom

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  5. Emily Sopensky says:

    I find much to be distracted by in this overhaul of the IEEE Constitution. Not the least of which is the relative stealth with which this has been “introduced” to the IEEE membership. The lack of discussion, save through this website, and in various one-on-one conversations, is hardly healthy for an organization of the magnitude and impact of IEEE. Some of the comments already made here should be enough to raise questions about the intent of this suggested amendment – or more appropriately “overhaul”. But one thing that really irks me is that the maximum on the size of the board is removed, as well as the tie to representation. That is, a board member representing a geographic or technical interest is removed. From the overhauled version, the Board (minimum of 9) does not have to have any relationship to the members–other than to be elected. By comparison, the US Constitution lays out in its very first article (Article 1, Section 2 and Section ) how the membership of the House and of the Senate, is derived, which are both tied to the US electorate. I truly hope that this Constitutional overhaul is removed from the ballot. Howeever well-intended these edits are, much more discussion and evaluation needs to precede presentation on the ballot.

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  6. Elie Track says:

    Without repeating the obviously valid objections stated in the other comments, the key questions are why, why now, and why in such a “stealthy” manner that sought to avoid scrutiny. Without a clearly stated rationale, vetting with the active IEEE volunteers (particularly ones with distinguished past leadership positions in IEEE), full transparency, the opportunity for an honest debate, sufficient time for consideration and assurance of adequate disclosures to every IEEE member — conditions none of which are currently satisfied — these amendments are at best ill-conceived and at worst indicative of a nefarious agenda.

    Elie K. Track, FIEEE
    Past President (2011-2014) Council on Superconductivity
    Co-Chair FDC Rebooting Computing Initiative

    Like

  7. H Troy Nagle says:

    The case against this proposed change is clear and convincing. Could one or more of the Directors who support this massive change in the IEEE step forward and give us their side of the story?

    H. Troy Nagle, LFIEEE
    President IEEE Sensors Council
    IEEE President 1994

    Like

    • Jim Isaak says:

      Troy,
      Actually, I’ve yet to have any member of IEEE indicate they are in favor of the actual amendment in total — there is support for specific changes while opposing others (which means opposing the amendment, and hoping for a “corrected” one). Groups looking for a “pro” speaker to have an informed discussion are unable to get any candidates, even after having asked the IEEE President to suggest a person.
      There will be a “discussion/debate” at the IEEE Board series, Friday June 19th 7-8AM, which will be recorded by IEEE TV and presumably available to members. So we will see.
      {Note: while the perspective of this website is that of the “loyal opposition” we are not censoring any input from members and would welcome comments from those who advocate the adoption of the Amendment.] — I have asked both IEEE President Elect candidates to add their comments on this issue to the site so we can see how they view the points raised.
      Best wishes
      JIm Isaak (webmaster for this site)

      Like

  8. For ComSoc Board says:

    ““The IEEE Communications Society Board of Governors believes that the proposed IEEE Constitutional Amendment is not in the best interest of the IEEE and recommends to the IEEE Board of Directors to rescind the motion approving the submission to the IEEE membership of this Constitutional Amendment proposal.””

    Like

  9. Steve Rabin says:

    As a USA based Member since the 1980s, currently a Senior Member, as well as a member of other professional societies, I have been disappointed in the level of professional representation provided by IEEE. Legal, Medical, and Accounting professions have professional associations effectively representing their interests before USA Congress. Engineers do not. This has resulted in outsourcing and ethics problems in the profession, and omissions in public interest projects such as the USA space program, public works projects such as the New Orleans levies, and defects in the software in cellphones and personal computers that affect me daily. Imagine if the legal profession was fractured by practice area and separate associations represented and set standards for bankruptcy attorneys versus personal injury attorneys? Imagine if accountants were able to hold out professional services without being licensed CPAs or doctors allowed to perform surgery without an MD? I have not myself studied the constitutional amendments proposed here in detail, but do think the IEEE could benefit from significant changes. I am looking at the 2015 annual election ballot in front of me, I do not recognize any of the candidates but see that they are all “nominated by the board of directors”, there does not appear to be a meaningful choice on this ballot that allows me to vote for change.

    Like

  10. Miroslav Skoric says:

    The proposed amendments are bad for the global IEEE community. As a member from Region 8, I strongly oppose to that and similar ideas. However, I could understand a frustration among the US-based part of the membership who might think that overseas members are ‘taking over’ their US ‘national’ organization. If that’s the case, it might be that US members take actions by forming another (really national) organization(s) where some closed group of domestic bureaucrats would govern such “volunteer” society. By the way, I have been thinking to abandon the membership in case such amendments are voted for. There are other bad things for us who come from developing countries. For example, IEEE Computer Society implemented an additional fee for printed version of the societal flagship magazine. Probably they think that broadband for accessing an electronic version of it is widely free and available – what unfortunately is not the case. So, I’ll probably abandon IEEE CS membership for the next year, and stay out of it until they return the printed magazine be included in the basic member fee.

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