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.