BCS survives vote of no confidence

The British Computer Society and its chief executive David Clarke have survived a vote of no confidence by a substantial margin, winning 76 percent of members’ votes. But the member who started an angry debate vowed to continue to push for change.

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The British Computer Society and its chief executive David Clarke have survived a vote of no confidence by a substantial margin, winning 76 percent of members’ votes. But the member who started the heated debate vowed to continue to push for change.

The debate began in March when a member, Len Keighley, said the body had moved away from its brief as a professional organisation, focusing on revenue generation and fast expansion, and that members had too little say in strategy.

Writing in a blog on the Computerworld UK website, industry veteran and BCS member Simon Phipps said that the 50 members who signed in support of yesterday's Extraordinary General Meeting are “long-serving, loyal and senior”.

Phipps expressed disappointment that the BCS leadership had “chosen to deride rather than channel the criticism into transparency and outreach”. There had even been attempted steps to deter future rebellion by requiring many more members to vote in support before an EGM could take place – but the resolution was subsequently withdrawn for yesterday’s meeting.

Yesterday, in addition to the votes supporting the BCS and its chief executive, sixty-two percent of members supported the transformation. A resolution had proposed halting the change until all financial accounting was revealed.

The BCS said the votes demonstrated it had a “strong mandate” to complete its transformation plans. Only a third of members voted, but nevertheless this was a record amount.

Elizabeth Sparrow, president at the BCS, said the “most important thing” was to “concentrate on the future”. She added: “We must all, Trustee Board, Council, members, Executive Board and employees, work together, to create an organisation which fulfils our Royal Charter, remains relevant to members and to the IT profession as a whole.”

Keighley, writing on his blog yesterday and reflecting on the debate he started, said the meeting had been “intense”, and that following the votes he was “hopeful of a more positive future”.

But in a stark warning that there was much more to do, he wrote: “One thing is certain – this is not the end of the process.”

BCS chief executive David Clarke admitted “there are lessons to be learned” from the controversy. But after all the debate, he said, there is “an already much improved level of engagement and communication”.

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