Response to my ACS open letter

29 August 2020

My open letter to the ACS Management Committee a week ago had a greater effect than I imagined.

I did not hear from any of the people I addressed it to — the ten people who run the organisation — but I did not expect to. Communication is not the ACS’s strongest point. A giant cone of silence has descended over ACS’s opulent headquarters in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct.

But I am reliably informed, from a couple of sources, that my open letter caused something of a ruckus. I hope it did — these people are deaf as well as mute.

I did hear from dozens of ACS members and former members, many of them in senior positions in the state branches and former office bearers at a national level. I received phone calls, emails, and responses to the article itself and my LinkedIn post.

Every single one of them agreed with what I had to say. No one defended ACS, probably because its actions are indefensible. The level of disaffection is astonishing.

The rest of this article is extracts from some of the comments I have received. I will not identify anybody by name.

Great open letter you wrote. IMHO, a key underlying problem is that the structure of the ACS almost appears to be designed to entrench a Nomenklatura in power.  There are 'electoral colleges' within 'electoral colleges' to insulate the Management Committee from the membership.

The Management Committee should be directly elected.  The Engineers can handle this, why not ACS? ACS has severe restrictions on who can stand for MC positions.  Why?   As a MIE I can stand for any position.  No qualification required beyond membership.

Members deserve the opportunity to vote this whole rotten mob out!

Senior member

The ACS Board's behaviour is most unprofessional. Where's the transparency. Now they're offering CP status for free to members.

Former branch President

A little competition on the monopoly might go a long way to cleaning up their act — how about it, the Australian Society of Computing Professionals, ASCP?

Ordinary member

As an ex-ACS member and volunteer on 3 ACS Special Interest Groups for several years, I support you on these issues!

Ex-member

Hear Hear! Let’s hope the Management Committee finally heeds the members’ calls for action!

Senior member

Sincerely hope you get somewhere with this, Graeme. The industry needs to self-regulate or government will eventually step in and ruin everything. ACS has become a bureaucracy.

Ordinary member

Thanks Graeme. Great piece. Well overdue. Heads on pikes, I say.

Prominent IT journalist

Even though I left your shores in the late ‘80s, this comes as a shock. Good to see you documenting and laying it out, thus. I cannot help but feel ACS cannot recover and that is a shame. I know my times at the ACS events in Terrigal may not have always been my finest hour but you all do need a professional body that is in good standing with all parties — go Graeme!

Former prominent ACS member now living overseas

Graeme, thank you for reporting on this. It breaks my heart that these events are not being brought up in mainstream media and everything is swept under the rug. ACS has potential to be a powerhouse society for IT professionals and instead those at the top of the society are lining their pockets with money and burning the ACS into the ground. Keep up the good honest reporting.

Ordinary member

Well written Graeme. Left ACS many years ago as found it provided no value. Your article explains the background to this. Thought that now, in these COVID days, we need an industry association that could bring together IT professionals to assist the greater population.

Ex-member

Excellent article you wrote in IT News yesterday about ACS. The chart showing declining membership does not seem sustainable in the future. It really questions what is the mission of ACS.

I agree that ACS needs a radical change if it is to get more members and to be more like what you would normally expect from a traditional computer society / association

 I’ve been a member of ACS, AISA and ACM for many years. I don’t see strong value with my ACS membership. The fees are also so much higher than AISA and ACM.

Ordinary member

That nails it. If that does not put a bomb under the MC, we have to invent another simile well above ‘hide like a rhinoceros’.

Former senior branch executive

Well written Graeme.  I am staggered that Andrew Johnson has come back as CEO!  That is amazing!

Former senior member

Great letter, but I wish you’d at least mentioned that those in your sights were following a script prepared by a major law firm.  It’s an explanation rather than an excuse, and it obviously reflected their brief.

Senior member

Wow, powerful letter. I wrote to them after the EGM last year, where I tried to speak, but was not acknowledged, nor given the opportunity; and received no reply.

Senior member.

QED. Quod erat demonstrandum. "Thus is it demonstrated'.