Response from ACM and SIGACT

Paul Beame (SIGACT chair) sends the following joint response to the two questions posed by the steering committee, on behalf of himself and Donna Cappo (chair of SIG services at ACM).  Please note their request for other questions and issues to be passed on to them; feel free to propose questions in the comments.


In answer to the two specific questions you sent, I agreed with Donna to provide a combined response below. If there are any other issues or questions arising in the business meeting that you would like addressed, then please pass them on and we will provide answers.

QUESTION 1: Conferences can be organized either “sponsored by ACM” and “in collaboration with ACM”.  Would SoCG organizers outside the US always be allowed to use the “in collaboration” option, if so desired?  Would organizers within the US be allowed to organize “in collaboration”, if so desired?

The Symposium on Computational Geometry has been sponsored by ACM for 29 years and it is with respect and pride that ACM expects to continue that sponsorship.   The leadership of ACM SIGACT and SIGGRAPH will consider and approve other status options based on the needs of the conference leadership as they have done a number of times in the past, including this year.

Note that when SoCG has “in cooperation” status (the formal term rather than “in collaboration”), the SIGACT leadership has agreed that SIGACT will cover any additional costs of proceedings production when compared with sponsored status through Sheridan printing, the ACM preferred vendor. (Note that the costs of proceedings production are not paid to ACM. ACM can help the conference leadership choose among several options for proceedings production that provide different levels of service at different price points. Sheridan is one of several for the committee to consider.)

QUESTION 2: ACM allocates a percentage (currently 13%) of the budget of any ACM symposium to the sponsoring of the SIGs involved.  In other words, the symposium pays ACM a “fee”, which, in the case of SoCG goes to SIGACT and SIGGRAPH.  For some conferences part of this fee is regularly set aside and returned to future editions of the conference, for example to pay for invited speakers, best paper awards, and/or student travel.  Would this also be possible for SoCG and, if so, would it be possible to put this into a formal agreement?

ACM assesses each of the SIGs an annual allocation based on total SIG spending including conference spending. That allocation covers part of the cost of operating ACM as a whole. This includes ACM’s educational programs and outreach, as well as the general services that the organization provides; it is not a fee for service for the specific conference since ACM services are provided independent of this.  SIGs simply re-assess the respective part of this allocation to their conferences and pass this money on to ACM, so it is not available to be set aside for return. However, if there is a conference surplus or deficit after this allocation has been made, that is the SIG’s responsibility. As with some of its other conferences, both SIGACT and SIGGRAPH have already agreed to return 50% of any conference surplus to SoCG through travel grants, awards, as well as other options such as invited speakers. SIGACT and SIGGRAPH view this already as a formal agreement, and would be happy to discuss the procedures involved for SoCG to make use of this money.

Speaking of deficits, surpluses, and agreements, there was an unfortunate communication problem related to SoCG 2011 in Paris, as a result of which, at the time of official conference closing, there was money from the conference that could not be returned from INRIA.  Therefore, SoCG 2011 showed up with a substantial deficit on the ACM books, which was the responsibility of SIGACT and SIGGRAPH, despite this money being available. In the past year this money has been received by ACM and has been set aside within the SIGACT budget for the exclusive use of SoCG. The net result is that SIGACT and SIGGRAPH will have returned well more than any surplus to SoCG. We realize that this has been an irritant with the SoCG community and are glad that it has now been resolved.

Over and above these two forms of returns to SoCG, SIGACT made a direct grant of $4500 to SoCG 2014 for student travel and awards, as it made similar grants to all of its sponsored conferences this year.  The availability of these funds was primarily the result of large surpluses for recent STOC conferences together with increasing returns to SIGACT from the ACM digital library.

In summary, the returns from surpluses are merely part of the story.

On other topics:

The proceedings from SoCG 2013, like those of many conferences sponsored by ACM, have been open access and available since last year.  The most recent SOCG proceedings are available at http://www.sigact.org/Proceedings/Most_Recent/socg.html and this should be true for SoCG 2014.

Members of SIGACT and SIGGRAPH (even without ACM membership) get free online access to the SIGs full line of materials within the ACM digital library.  For example, membership in SIGACT costs $9 for students, $18 for members of other societies such as EATCS (versus $15 for ACM members) and provides registration discounts to all SIGACT sponsored conferences, including SODA, STOC, and ITCS as well as SoCG.

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About Jeff Erickson

I'm a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the chair of the steering committee for the International Symposium on Computational Geometry.
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10 Responses to Response from ACM and SIGACT

  1. Daniel Reem says:

    Thanks for the information. I have a small question regarding the SOCG proceedings, since I am not sure that I well understood the term “open access” which was attributed to them: does it mean that all of the papers are freely available to read/download (without any special payment,login, IP address, etc.) during a period of, say, one year, or perhaps it means something else, e.g., that only some of the papers, those whose authors paid some money for them in advance (as in the open access model applied to journals), are freely available for a certain amount of time? I followed the link mentioned above and did find a list of links leading to the papers of SOCG 2013 (still not to SOCG 2014, although the proceedings are already available online), but none of the papers I tried to read (I actually tried all of them) was freely available: the corresponding links just led to the usual page of each paper in the ACM Digital Library.

    • Jeff Erickson says:

      “Open access” here is supposed to mean that all proceedings papers are freely available to read and download, no strings attached, for a period of one year after the conference, provided that the reader followed the link from the SIGACT page to the ACM digital library. The fact that SIGACT’s page points to the 2013 proceedings instead of the 2014 proceedings is clearly an oversight. And I assume the 2013 proceedings are no longer open-access because “one year” means “until the next iteration of the conference”, not “365.25 days”.

      I have asked Paul for clarification on both points.

    • Jeff Erickson says:

      Similarly, http://www.sigact.org/Proceedings/Most_Recent/stoc.html still points to the STOC 2013 proceedings, and http://www.sigact.org/Proceedings/Most_Recent/itcs.html still points to the ITCS 2013 proceedings.

      • Paul Beame says:

        The links from the Conferences tab on the SIGACT website, including http://www.sigact.org/Proceedings/Most_Recent/socg.html are now working for SoCG and ITCS. (The links from the SIGACT website need to be replaced at the time of the next conference; obviously, we missed doing this for ITCS for several months.) In any case, the SoCG 2014 proceedings are fully open directly in the ACM DL for the conference and 2 weeks afterward, in addition to being available through the SIGACT website. (The latest STOC proceedings are a different matter, since they were done through IEEE CPS and not ready on time. They will appear online shortly.)

  2. One of the most compelling arguments I have heard for staying with ACM is that the ACM provides some great service to the community. But I am not totally sure what this is, and for instance how it is different than what CRA or CCC would do. The above reply writes: “ACM’s educational programs and outreach, as well as the general services that the organization provides”

    Can someone elaborate on what this is, and how SOCG splitting from ACM would affect ACM’s view of CG and its service regarding CG?

  3. ACM can help the conference leadership choose among several options for proceedings production that provide different levels of service at different price points. Sheridan is one of several for the committee to consider.

    Does this mean that we can use LIPIcs when “in collaboration” ? that appears to be a) a shift in policy and b) further incentive to resolve the ambiguous answer to Question 1 for SoCGs held in the US.

    • Jeff Erickson says:

      No, it means that Sheridan is one of several options for preparing proceedings to be published by ACM. Olivier and Siu-Wing did not use Sheridan this year, for example. (But I don’t know who they did use.)

      • I asked ACM how it works for creating the proceedings, the answer was:
        “In 2013 the SoCG conference was a sponsored event and the proceedings were handled by Sheridan Communications. In 2014 the SoCG conference is in-cooperation and the Sheridan service is not being utilized.”
        no mention that
        “SIGACT will cover any additional costs” as P. Beame wrote in the message above.

        We (Siu-Wing and I) managed to make everything by ourselves:
        – collecting papers and naming them according to ACM instructions
        – adding page numbers
        – table of contents
        – index of authors

        Then we delivered to ACM the proceedings in “final form”.

      • Jeff Erickson says:

        In 2014 the SoCG conference is in-cooperation and the Sheridan service is not being utilized.

        That’s just… weird. We used Sheridan as usual in 2007 and 2009, when the conference was in-cooperation.

        no mention that “SIGACT will cover any additional costs” as P. Beame wrote in the message above.

        This is something you would have to approach SIGACT about directly, rather than ACM SIG Services, since it was a decision by the SIGACT executive board on how to spend SIGACT’s internal funds. ACM, the parent organization, wasn’t involved in the decision.

  4. I would also be curious to hear from others in the SoCG community about benefits of this relationship. I remember speaking to prior organizers who said that ACM’s support and help, as well as additional benefits (perhaps such as insurance? not sure if I remember correctly), made the planning process much simpler, at least in the US. Does anyone have comments on these benefits, since I think they would be very relevant to understand?

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