Saturday, 3 July 2010

Thursday, 1 July 2010

BCS EGM Results & Thanks

Dear all,

I just wanted to thank you all for the support and encouragement you have given me and the other signatories to the EGM held today. In particular I wanted to single out for a special thank you to Conrad Taylor, the webmaster of the wiki site that we used to provide news and updates. He had a very difficult job in listening and dealing with our many revisions.

The EGM was a long, interesting and intense meeting that, by and large, was held in the professional manner that anyone would have hoped for, where lots of feelings where aired before the final votes were taken.

I was approached after the meeting by various members, including a number that had opposed the original motions, who said that the results had shown that there were issues that needed to be listened to.

At the conclusion of the meeting a number of the EGM signatures met with various Trustees and Council members to discuss ways forward and it was agreed before the discussion closed that a joint statement would be produced as soon as possible on that way forward.

With all that and the short meeting after the EGM I am hopeful of a more positive future

In case you have not seen the results of the votes here are the numbers for and against of each motion.

Motion 1 – For 3271 – Against 10662

Motion 2 – For 3174 – Against 10613

Motion 3 – For 5557 – Against 9217

Motion 4 – For 11050 – Against 3051

Motion 5 – For 10567 – Against 3439

Motion 6 – For 10475 – Against 3354

The Special Resolution to increase the number of members required to call an EGM was withdrawn from the EGM by the Chairman of the Meeting, the President.

As far as I am aware this is the highest vote there has been in the history of the BCS and does show it is not just 52 fuddy duddys.

One thing is certain this is not the end of the process and to paraphrase it may not be the beginning of the end but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

Your servant

Len Keighley

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Changing Your EGM Vote

It appears that a number of BCS members who have now had chance to see both sides of the debate wish to change their vote.

The Electroral Reform Society, the independent body running the voting on behalf of BCS, have therefore provided he following information.

"Should someone wish to alter their vote, they should notify us by emailing We will be able to reset a person’s security codes and they will then be able to login again and resubmit their proxy form. Similarly, we can also re-issue a paper ballot and remove the original from the count."

Support for EGM Motions Posted on BCS Web Site

These are comments raised in response to the live BCS Webinair on Thursday 10th June.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Support from Former BCS Specialist Group

I have just picked up on the current round of BCS ‘transformations’ and your call for an EGM.

I am the chairman for the British APL Association who were forced to leave the BCS about 2 years ago after their previous round of membership changes. At that time our group had a very large overseas membership (60%) and a high number of retired professional members (25%). The BCS insisted that all group members had to become full BCS members etc. Etc. This was of no interest to our membership and combined with many other effects of the new rules caused us to call an EGM at which of our own only 1 person out of 652 voted for us to stay in the BCS – subsequently we left. To say the least our members were furious.

We have since (and remain) in conflict with the BCS over the position they left us in. Our funds, including specific gifts, have been absorbed by the BCS who refuse to return any of it. They can give no evidence to our exact membership status as a group or to the terms in which we were originally signed up. The acceptance of the BCS rules were never agreed to. I suspect however that this is not new as my discussions with some other groups have indicated similar issues and a concern that they too may have to leave.

The BCS have shown themselves to be highly un-professional and deliberately obstructive. The Finance department have never returned any of our communications and any communication with the membership departments has fallen on deaf ears. After saying that Judith Taylor has been somewhat more helpful in recent times. We have been left with the view that actually the BCS do not care about the membership only their own internal processes and procedures and we would agree that the BCS is operating outside of their Royal Charter and in some instances against the Charity Commission guidelines.

After our AGM last month it was decided that we would be writing to the Trustees of the BCS to indicate, in more forceful terms, our position and that we will consider a legal challenge to their currently held position if our questions cannot be satisfactorily answered or funds returned.

In our experience the BCS priority is most certainly not its members.

I am not sure if any of this helps you with your campaign but we wish you every success; if only to give the BCS a well deserved ‘kick up the backside’ and a reality check. If they carry on the way they are going they will lose what little credibility they currently have and become the ‘Golden Wonder’ of the IT world; Good idea, Good product but just not good enough.

Best regards

Paul Grosvenor

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Monday, 7 June 2010

More Support in ComputerWorld UK from Simon Phipps

A Big Thank You

I just wanted to thank all of those that have sent me emails with messages of support.

Quite a lot have also contained questions and/or requests for more information and I will respond to all of the emails but I would ask that you you be patient as, I am sure you will have realised, my email recipt numbers have exploded since the BCS mailing went out last week.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Messages of Support for the EGM

Since the BCS issued the email to all members regarding the EGM, the following is a sample of the messages of support that have been received to date.
  • I was very pleased to find I am not alone in being severely critical of the BCS and agree with your thoughts in the CW article that the BCS is now dominated by its commercial interests and has lost touch with its members. The analogy with the AA is entirely apt. The BCS is no longer, in my opinion, a serious professional institution.
  • I will be voting for your efforts.
  • I've just read your opinion piece in Computer Weekly on the BCS, and I agree. Thank you for your work on the EGM. I'm a member and will be voting with you.
  • I am in total agreement with you. The "organization seems to have lost sight of its true aims. I think that your comparison to the AA hits the nail on the head. I have not been happy about the direction(s) being taken for some time not. I shall definitely be voting with you at the EGM.
  • Many thanks for raising that motion. I find hope in your action as, given the choice between professionalism and business, or mutual support and society, as core focus - I would prefer the latter. I'm pleased you have created the opportunity to air the point.
  • I'm a long term member and have become increasingly opposed to what the BCS has become. I would leave tomorrow but I am a C.Eng, which I do care about, and believe I have to maintain my BCS membership to keep that. I turned down the CITP 'status' because I see that as just a means to extract more money from me. It's a 'chartered nothing'. When CITP was first introduced, they removed my status as a chartered member of the society, though I believe they have now restored CEng as qualifying me to be a chartered member. But it's another example of their lack of understanding and disdain for the membership. 
  • Good luck with the EGM. You certainly have my vote.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

BCS EGM Date Announced

The date for the BCS EGM has now been announced as July 1st, 2010. The meeting to be held in London.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New LinkedIn Discussion

At the request of a none CITP BCS Member  I have set up a discussion group on the EGM that can be accesed by ALL BCS Membrs.

It can be found under the BCS Membership Group whixch can be joined by ALL BCS grades of Member.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Observations on Response from Trustees & CEO to call for EGM

The response from the CEO and Trustees is hardly worthy of recognition other than being another example of the kind of spin doctoring that is prevalent nowadays.

Here are few observations:

1) The whole thrust of the response is arrogant in suggesting that the point of the call of the EGM is for one individual to get their own back for their own failure. Most of the response is a personal attack on one of the signatories, admittedly the one who started the ball rolling - but if no support for those views had been found we would not be were we are today.

2) “The BCS is doomed unless the direction it is following continues”. Yet even the CEO himself says elsewhere that this is a 10 year strategy and that it is too early to measure the effects, so how does he know the BCS will fail if the plan is not executed. It is important to note that nowhere in the calling of the EGM has this ever been a requirement.

3) All the statistics used are cast to illustrate a point in some light, but as we all know that is the nature of statistics. They can be massaged whichever way one wants them to be. The converse could be shown here but it is completely pointless.

4) The cost of the EGM is what it must be. Relative to the 5 million pound cost of the Transformation Programme, it is a mere 2%. The BCS set the rules for the democratic right of members to call an EGM. These rules have been followed. Hence, the BCS should not be now complaining that these rules are inadequate.

It should be noted that the BCS rules HAVE been changed once already. Up until the early part of the decade, the original rules of the society only required 10 members to sign the calling notice. That represented 0.3% of the society’s membership of around 32,000 at that point.

5) At no time has anyone even suggested that there is a problem with the Transformation programme in its entirety or that it should be cancelled. Nevertheless, there is a distinct lack of transparency, despite what is being claimed. No proof of the project being on time and budget has ever been provided to Council or to my knowledge to Trustee Board, unless some Trustees were deliberately excluded.

6) The BCS commercial activities have always funded the membership, which is the only reason why they were established. Hence, the fact that the commercial activities do fund the membership should hardly be seen as a problem. There appears to be no understanding that to keep repeating this fact only fuels the perception that the Business resents the membership? However, whilst the commercial activities may well fund the membership, it has NEVER been proved despite my repeated requests for that proof.

7) The subsidy of the membership has not been reduced this year. The CEO knows that at a Trustee board meeting I suggested that all areas of the BCS should share the pain of the economic climate and that given that staff were suffering frozen salaries for the second year running the member groups funding should also be reduced. The offer was not felt necessary and was therefore declined.

8) Use of the phrase that the Transformation has “been independently managed by a contracted, independent Project Director” to confirm transparency is I believe is an incorrect use of the term “independent”. A contract employee rather than a permanent employee does not provide independence.

9) Although only one of the EGM signatories attended the BCS AGM, the CEO neglects to add that less than 30 members (i.e. < 0.05% of the membership) in total attended the AGM, despite a significant number living and working in the immediate London area. This means 2% of the EGM signatories attended the AGM. In other words these statistics are meaningless.

10) With regard to alternative Strategies, I don’t believe this is the appropriate time for that, especially when ALL attempts to discuss alternatives in the past have been met with such disdain and opposition, and it is just being used as another stalling tactic. Had it not been for this resistance from the BCS there would have been no need for an EGM.

Support from Ian Thornton-Bryar

From the correspondence, BCS has embarked on a major "Transformation" of the society. Yet they appear to have done this with little or no consultation with the key stakeholders. No wonder they are getting an abreaction.

From my training and decades of such experience, the initial need of an effective transformation is for a mandate to be generated and agreed. This needs to define its objectives in SMART terms (specific/strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based). Then it needs to define the Critical Success Factors and weight these in importance. This is followed by an Option Analysis, comprising at least three options (do nothing, do everything, some reasonable intermediate point(s)), with the values of the options being analysed against the CSF weightings, to see where the sensible (from the point of view of the key (i.e., funding stakeholders - us)) balance lies.

Our "professional" management seem to have done none of this. No wonder members who have given decades of unpaid effort to the society are incensed. And I suspect that the vast majority of our members are not even aware this row is going on - hence the cheap shots about 0.1% support.

Don't take me wrong - I have been concerned about the lack of BCS professionalism for decades, so I'm glad to see a push in that direction. We're quite good at transferring competence. I've never seen an instance where we have done anything about teaching, let alone breaches of professional ethics, relaxed as the BCS standards are, especially when compared with doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, etc.

It also transpires that my CITP is not as equal as the one awarded by the firm that does Driving Test Theory, so I am not allowed to resume as a membership assessor without paying for the privilege. OK, several cheap shots from the hierarchy deserve another in return.


Ian Thornton-Bryar, DipM, DMS, FBCS, FIMC, CITP, CMC,

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Monday, 5 April 2010

Support from David Muxworthy

For me the BCS means mainly the branches and specialist groups - technical forums where members meet, discuss and share and advance knowledge. I care not one jot for example for the post-nominal letters with which the BCS seems obsessed. I don't know most of the petition signatories but see that there are quite a number of very experienced branch and SG officers.

At recent SG Assemblies I have been absolutely appalled at the way the representatives have been treated by HQ staff and by some of the senior Society officers. At one we were harangued at length because only 28 of 50 SGs were represented, even though the agenda was issued only three days before the meeting. It is a persistent theme that SG officers should give BCS affairs top priority, even ahead of their day-jobs. At another we were presented with a model SG constitution, compiled with inadequate consultation, and told to adopt it as it stood or have all funding withdrawn; fortunately this one was faced down. Discussion can be cut short with the excuse that the Trustee Board would not approve, without any attempt to reach a compromise or to progress the issue. The low point for me was in 2007. I wrote this note the following day:

"Alan Pollard gave an extraordinary performance at the SG Assembly yesterday. Facing an audience which consisted, apart from the HQ staff, totally of very highly disgruntled SG representatives he behaved as if he were still in the army and made not the slightest effort to mollify them. Paraphrasing, he said that an organization of this size needs management and you are being managed. There is no point in grumbling or debating. That is not to the benefit of the Society and lessens morale. Let's not do it. You are being managed. If you don't like it stand for election yourself. PS: in case you didn't get the message you are being managed. Now go away and do what you are told.

The agenda had been arranged to allow minimal time for questions on finance but a splendid man from Glasgow protested very eloquently and very angrily that he had got up at 5am to get to the meeting only to find he was being patronized, told what had already been decided and was not able to make any substantive contribution. However, "water" and "duck's back" spring to mind to describe Pollard's and HQ staff's attitude."


Support from Mike Moss

Just to advise you guys that this is not the first time that the central part of BCS went down a path which took it away from the branches and the ordinary members of the Society.

It is going back in the mists of time to 1992 when action was taken in response to the fact that the BCS centre kept saying that the members were the backbone of the Society but cut back every year on the funding and backing for the branches. At the time I was Chairman of the Manchester branch and representative of the north on the branches board committee.

I was unhappy with the situation, so coordinated action nationally across branches' chairmen to lodge protests. We then proceeded to put down a motion at the AGM and this elicited response to the effect that the then president came north to discuss with us. We received a commitment to increase funding and support for the branches (and this was put into effect in succeeding years). We left the motion on the table at the AGM without active campaigning and the only reason it failed was because the President claimed the right to vote on behalf of members who had not specifically voted in favour of the motion.

It is sad that the Society has come to a similar situation now. However, experience says that sometimes one has to go beyond soft words with some people who respond only to actions.

Michael Moss CITP LLB

Letters to Computer Weekly

It would be great if those that support the calll for an EGM would write or email Computer Weekly with that support.

The Editorial email address for Computer Weekly is and their postal address is Computer Weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS.

If you do send a letter to Computer Weekly please do copy me in so that I can post the letter or links to it here.

Friday, 2 April 2010

More Media Attention

Thanks to David Clarke for identifying this one

Response to David Clarke's Computer Weekly Piece - 31st March 2010

Is that all the BCS CEO & Trustees can say?

David Clarke’s recent comment on the call for an EGM is short and sweet which is not surprising as it cherry picks on information to support a point of view, but neglects a broader picture and background.

As has been commented before, there has been a split between the Business and the membership and this is no more evident than in David’s comments. He says “the membership is not self funding”. That is only true while you consider the Business earnings as separate from the membership fee income. They are clearly not unless you want to prove that particular point.

The business would have little or no income without its membership base whether directly or indirectly, therefore the income generated by the whole of BCS is generated by the membership and, therefore, it is self funding. A fact which perhaps David is unaware of is that the Business wing of the BCS was originally formed to generate income to support the membership in its charitable aims. In that respect all the money generated by the BCS belongs to the membership as the original investor. As the membership fees where used to establish the business initially, the membership can be and should be considered to be its shareholders. Any separation of Business and Membership is therefore derogatory to the original intent of the membership.

The business of the BCS should not be considered an entity in its own right. Even if it was to be considered a separate entity, what would be its purpose? In my view the BCS is a Professional Membership organisation that has a Business function to help support its operation, not a Business with membership fees as an income stream.

There is no doubt that David has done a great job in the past but he is now trying to separate the Business and Membership for a reason that is as yet unclear. In discussions with a number of members, even some quite recently joining the BCS, it is clear they think this is not the right thing to do - hence the EGM. Supporters of the EGM also come from the BCS Young Professionals Group (YPG) which is formed from members under the age of 35, so again the comment regarding wanting to live in the past is incorrect and derisory. Perhaps David and the Trustees are more out of touch with the membership than they think?

A recent quote by one of the Trustees to a Member Group further emphasises the desire to split the BCS, the quote regarded "the future of BCS as a 'professional body' in contrast to that in the past as a 'members’ club". Why can it not be both? There are many example of this being the case, for example, the Law Society, IOD, ICA etc.

David also states that, in justifying support for the membership, that budgets for this area have not been cut. Again, this only represents part of the story and is linked to his statement about the membership costing £2m more than it generates in fees. The only member budget I know to be held was that of the Member Groups which is approximately 10% of the BCS total income. This was retained even though those member groups suggested that, in the light of BCS staff pay freezes during the current economic climate, the pain should be shared by all. Further, something else that David neglected to say, is that those member groups under spend by approximately 25% every year. However, this is not the only misleading element of these numbers, assuming an average membership fee of £100 the income generated is £7m plus the £2m overspend gives a £9m spend on membership. I estimate the income of the BCS to be in the region of £20-£25m, where does the other 50%+ of the expenditure go? If there were more openness and transparency, there would be no need for an EGM.

All these statements regarding membership income and expenditure have been around for at least the last 3-4 years and despite repeated requests for the figures behind them that prove the information, none has been provided to the trustees.

David’s response only seems to me to reinforce the need for the EGM and votes of “No confidence” in what he and the Trustee Board are doing to the BCS.

The BCS must become a Professional body but not at the expense of the membership that got it to that point in the first place.

On a final note, there is one further thing that to me even more emphasises the split between the BCS Business and its Membership. Why is there no response to the call for an EGM from the most senior member of the BCS, the President?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

LinkedIn Discussion

There is also a BCS EGM LinkedIn discussion underway in the BCS Chartered IT Profesionals group which can be found at this url.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Follow Up Email 11/3/2010


It is now a couple of months since I emailed you with my thoughts and concerns regarding the BCS and I felt that I should update you as to the events over that period.

As a result of my email, I was asked to resign as a Trustee of the Society by the President and Deputy President and since early February I have taken no part in the affairs of the Trustee Board.

I have received quite a number of responses to my original email, including some from members to whom it had been forwarded on, to such an extent that we are almost at the goal I set before sending in the request to the BCS for the required EGM. I very much want to go with more supporters than just the minimum 50 required to fulfil the request, as the more supporters there are, the less the Society can consider it as just a few disgruntled members.

Included with the support have been even more examples of where members have been unhappy with the way in which the Society is moving and of feeling left out of the decision making processes.

There has also been some media coverage of the push for an EGM with Computer Weekly reporting the following:

It just needs a final push for us to reach to goal of requesting an EGM and therefore if you have not already replied to me or you know of any other members who feel the same way please do contact me.


Len Keighley

Original Email sent 30/12/2009


Recently I have become increasingly aware of a disconnect between the direction the Society is taking and the way in which I, and I hope others, believe that it should be progressing.

These views centre on the role of the membership in the Society and the perceived view of the membership by both the senior management of the Society – the staff - and senior volunteers.

For many years it has been said that the membership does not “make money” for the BCS. Over recent months this has become even more apparent with the additional comment that not only does the membership spend more than it generates but it also spends money that the “business” has generated in terms of a surplus. Membership, in this respect, covers everything from joining and accreditation through to member group budgets etc.

Over recent months numerous changes and restructuring activities have been undertaken to such an extent that the membership of the Society now seems to be secondary to the role of the ‘business’ of the Society. In this context ‘business’ is meant to cover the income generating aspects of the Society that are not related to membership in any way.

All of the changes and statements are being made and supported by a very small minority of senior volunteers and staff without proper and careful due process and consultation with the rest of the wider and active membership to see if they concur. And it would appear that few members have been made overtly aware of the transformation programme or what effects it will have apart from general communication in press and media.

Therefore the only conclusion I can make is that the role of the membership in the Society is declining. This is no more clearly seen than in the effects on the member groups over recent months. The relative importance of the member groups in the Society as a whole seems to be diminishing, with the removal of their Management Committees and the corresponding reduction in the number of Council seats they are allowed to populate. There seems to be a shift in the Society’s objectives from that of supporting / serving a group of professional members, to that of a Business that sells products to professionals - one such product being CITP. However, there are few professionals in control of that selling or consultation of the membership as to how the Society should move forward.

In addition, I have recently discovered that an internal election has been deferred and as far as I am aware this has not been discussed with the body involved. Personally I find this reminiscent of the events that can usually found where governments don’t want the population to have a choice.

Sadly, I feel that this is not the Society that I joined 30 years ago and up until recently the change from a member-focussed to a business-focussed Society was not the aim of that Society.

If one looks at the current Strategic Objectives ( of the Society, drawn up by senior volunteers and staff as part of the new transformation programme, there is no mention of membership.

On the other hand if one looks at the Royal Charter and Bye- Laws ( held under the Governance – Regulations item) they do imply that the members and other individuals interested in computing should be encouraged to meet and communicate to further all aspects of computing. Indeed in doing so BCS members are working for the public benefit. The note on ‘public benefit’ at the Charities Commission website makes it clear that it is acceptable for member associations to be charities, and for members to be supported.

Moreover, a recent ruling has made it a requirement that all future member meetings must support the Strategic Objectives of the Society - which, as an aside, do not include the recruiting or support of members themselves.

The Bye Laws of the Society also contain a large amount of information pertaining to membership.

An interesting point also to note is that I found it impossible to find the Charter and Bye Law documents on the public Society web site. The links above are to documents on the secure site, for members only, and even then they seemed buried.

All this has brought me to the point where I, together with other members to whom I have spoken, no longer agree with the direction of the Society being taken by senior volunteers and staff. Although this has been brought by myself and other members to the attention of the senior volunteers and staff of the Society they seem to show little interest in listening. Indeed, there is almost the feeling that the Trustees and Senior Staff know better and are just pandering to those of us that raise these issues.

There only remains the decision of what to do about it. In reality, there is very little that a member can do, as the Trustee Board has absolute power. Moreover, it was stated recently at a Council meeting, by one of the Society’s legal advisors that the Trustees are not there to represent anybody, only to run the Society as they see fit.

I believe therefore that the only option is to send a message to the Trustee Board and the whole membership that there is something wrong, by proposing three motions to an Emergency General Meeting, an EGM.

To do this, 50 members are required to support the motions and this is why I am coming to you, as personal friends and close colleagues. I hope that if you agree with my feelings and support my proposals you will “sign” the motions so that we can take this forward and hopefully return the Society to the direction we agree to.

The Motions I propose are outlined:-

1) A vote of ‘no confidence’ in the current Trustee Board.

2) A vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Chief Executive, David Clarke.

3) To suspend any further expenditure on the "transformation programme" until there is full, open and transparent disclosure of all financial accounting relating to this programme to-date

Thank you for your time and hopefully your support.

Please feel free to pass this on to any BCS members that you feel may be of a like mind and that would be willing to support the motions as to provide a list of more than 50 supports would further emphasis the strength of feeling in the Society.


Len Keighley, FBCS, CEng