Current status of Commissions.
Proposed funding for Commissions.
Formation and Termination of Commissions.
The proposal in the SGR to convert the bulk of IUPAC's scientific work
to a project-funded system with primarily time-limited commissions has
elicited considerable discussion at all levels within IUPAC. The Division
Presidents who have expressed opinions seem to be completely in favor of
a project-funded system, and a number of individuals from Commissions also
have given a positive response to this concept. In fact, many Commissions
already carry out individual projects with short-term Working Groups, usually
composed partly or entirely of Commission members, and in some instances
modest funds are allocated to specific projects.
The second part of the proposal, "time-limited commissions,"
and its corollary of giving up "permanent" commissions has elicited
considerable concern from most Commission members. The SDIC is well aware
of and sensitive to these concerns. Abolishing a single Commission might
appear to be tantamount to saying that the sub-field covered by that Commission
is of little importance. Moreover, there are questions as to how suitable
projects could be generated without a Commission devoted to a particular
Current status of Commissions. The
existence of a more or less permanent Commission in a particular subject
area has many virtues: There is a cadre of chemists who have accepted responsibility
to think about that area and to develop ideas for useful IUPAC projects.
The awarding of the title "Titular Member" or "Associate
Member" of a Commission often provides sufficient prestige to enable
the individual to obtain his/her employer's approval to devote time to
IUPAC work - an important consideration in a company or government laboratory
but not generally in academia. Also, the "Member" designation
often permits an individual to obtain financial resources for travel and
administrative costs - important in all employment sectors, especially
for Associate Members. In addition, the existence of a permanent Commission
provides an opportunity for appointment of National Representatives - an
important consideration for many NAOs in bringing forward some of their
better chemists who might not be widely known.
The SDIC believes that the principal shortcomings of the present system
of "permanent" Commissions are (i) perpetuation of the Commission's
membership by self-selection, with only nominal approval at higher levels;
(ii) generation of projects largely within a Commission in accord with
the interests of its members; and (iii) allocation of a large fraction
of IUPAC's budget to maintenance of the Commissions and provision for their
meetings, irrespective of the quality, quantity and timeliness of the work
carried out by the Commission.
Proposed funding for Commissions. These
problems disappear if there are only time-limited Commissions to carry
out specific projects, where the project is defined and the Commission
membership is chosen by someone or some group outside the Commission. The
question addressed by the SDIC was: How can IUPAC best accomplish these
goals and yet retain some or all of the advantages listed above for "permanent"
Commissions? The SDIC believes that the answer is to have projects carried
out by short-term Task Groups reporting to the Division Committee, while
permitting a limited number of Commissions to be formed, under strict conditions,
as advisory groups that would meet only as needed.
One key aspect in effecting such a change is to break the link between
Titular Membership and financial support. This could be accomplished most
cleanly by a repeal or modification of Bylaw 4.307:
Titular Members of Commissions have the right to receive contributions
towards travel and subsistence expenses from funds of the Union as authorized
by the Treasurer acting on behalf of the Union. Contributions may be made
to Associate Members or members of subcommittees on recommendation of the
Division or Section President and with the agreement of the Treasurer.
Removing the "right" to receive contributions changes an entitlement
to a discretionary expenditure that is related to the need for particular
travel. Rather than having each of its Commissions meet at every General
Assembly, a Division Committee could authorize meetings and travel only
when necessary. This change in policy would leave permanent Commissions
in essentially an advisory role unless some or all members were actively
engaged in one or more projects for which funding has been approved. However,
such an advisory role can be very important in developing new projects.
With modern communications technology, much can be accomplished, even without
Formation and Termination of Commissions.
Withdrawal of automatic funding for TMs would not solve the problem
of having in perpetuity 37 Commissions on subjects that might not be optimal,
even for advisory groups. Experience has shown that it is virtually impossible
to terminate a single Commission unless there is almost unanimous agreement
among all members of the Commission. The SGR [Appendix 3] gives illustrations
dating back to 1955 of efforts by IUPAC Presidents to terminate permanent
Commissions. However, Council can be asked to exercise its authority under
Bylaw 4.302 [see Appendix 4] not to approve the extension of any current
Commission beyond 2001. The SDIC believes that it will be less divisive
to the Union and more acceptable to each Commission to have all Commissions
formally terminated than to try to terminate some and leave others.
Under this plan, Division Committees would examine their needs during
the period 1999-2001 and request the Bureau and Council to form new Commissions
as needed. These could be long-term (but with a specified term - no more
than 8-10 years) to provide continuing attention to a field or to organize
or manage a continuing activity, such as a series of symposia. In some
instances they could be short-term (2-4 years) to accomplish a specific
task for which the prestige of a Commission, not just a Task Group, is
needed. For each proposed Commission, the Division Committee would have
to make a persuasive case and follow the procedures given in Bylaw 4.301
[see Appendix 4]. To prevent a recurrence of the present situation with
a large number of long-term Commissions, the Bureau should go beyond the
requirement in Bylaw 4.301 for "an indication as to the probable duration
of the life of the new body" by specifying a lifetime and thus ensuring
the automatic termination of the Commission unless positive action is taken
to extend its life. The SDIC believes that this can be done at present
on the basis of Bureau policy but that eventually Bylaw 4.301 should be
National Representatives. National
Representatives (NRs) play an important role in increasing the geographic
breadth of IUPAC bodies and permitting the close involvement of individual
NAOs with IUPAC work. Bylaw 4.305 [Appendix 4] defines the participation
of NRs in Commissions, and there are many active NRs. Although there is
no statutory underpinning, two of the seven Division Committees and several
Standing Committees also have NRs.
Under the new structure proposed here, NRs can still participate in
any Commissions that are formed, but opportunities may be limited. There
should be provision for direct links of NRs to all Division Committees,
which will become the centers of scientific activity. Such NRs could provide
extremely valuable links to NAOs and thus facilitate the generation of
ideas for projects and suggestions for individuals to serve on Task Groups.
The SDIC recommends that the Bureau, after consultation with Division Presidents,
establish a policy for appointment of National Representatives to Division
Committees as non-voting members, and for participation of NRs in the work
of the Divisions' Task Groups.
Formation of the SDIC
Organization and Management of Scientific Work
Responsibilities of Division Committees
Election of Division Committees and Division Officers
Conversion to a New Project-Driven System
Operation of a Project-Driven System
Evaluation of Projects
Role of the Secretariat
Summary of Recommendations on Organization and
Summary of Formal Actions Required
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