ACS began life in 1966 as an amalgamation of existing state computer societies.

Since then, it has grown to become one of Australia’s premier professional bodies, becoming an integral part of Australia’s growth as a digital economy, and will continue to play a major role as the industry and technology evolve.

ACS has been inspiring success for over 50 years.

But, as always in the technology industry, its focus must remain on the future.

To meet the needs of its members in a rapidly changing environment, ACS is about to undertake a process to seek support from members to modernise its governance frameworks by becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG).

Currently registered as an Incorporated Association in the Australian Capital Territory, registering as a CLG would see the registration fall under the responsibility of ASIC with greater accountability.

ACS President Yohan Ramasundara said, “ACS has set itself an ambitious new Strategic Plan for the period 2017-2022 that commits to being contemporary and relevant, and at the forefront of thinking in relation to emerging technology and the new economy.

"We need to ensure our organisational design and governance frameworks are fit for purpose, so that ACS delivers agility in a changing operating environment, and that we are best placed to deliver on the Strategy.”

The ACS Strategy contains a vision for Australia to be a world leader in technology talent, fostering innovation and creating new forms of value.

There are three strategic pillars:

• Capacity; expanding the available human capital in the profession

• Capability; lifting the quality of the human capital in the profession

• Catalyst; ACS being a conduit for sparking innovation.

The Strategy itself was previously unanimously endorsed by Congress in early 2017, with implementation commencing from 1 July 2017.

Ramasundara explained, “The Strategy contains a series of enablers to ensure we are best placed to deliver on the Strategy. In 2017, we reviewed the enabler ‘Leveraging knowledge capital’ which refers to our goal of ACS being recognised as a thought leader, and that in order to achieve this, ACS needed to broaden and deepen its knowledge base, and be more proactive in making it available.”

The results of that review included refocusing technical boards on areas of emerging technology, and enhancing ACS’ research and policy capability. It has called for expressions of interest from the membership for subject matter experts to enhance and shape ACS views in these areas so that the community, government, industry and economy may benefit.

“We have been incredibly pleased with the energy and passion being invested by members through the ACS Advisory arrangements. In 2019, we are focusing on the enabler ‘Improving the agility and effectiveness of ACS’, which includes reviewing our corporate form and governance structures, in order to best position ACS to be agile in the future. Evolution of our governance and operating model is a significant step in positioning ACS for the next 50 to 100 years,” Ramasundara said.

Having undertaken extensive consultations with Branch Executive Committees, ACS Advisory Boards, and all of ACS’ two hundred elected members, the National Congress unanimously endorsed at its 7 December 2018 meeting that ACS should become a Company Limited by Guarantee, with Management Committee accepting the recommendation and resolving to become a CLG also at this meeting.

Further strategic directions that were endorsed included that directors would not be remunerated, and the principle that Branch Executive Committees would contribute to strategy rather than operations with a focus on advice, access and advocacy.

At the 15 May 2019 meeting, Congress furthered endorsed implementation principles for governance changes with these being that the future Board of Directors:

• May only appoint a person as a Director until the next AGM, in the event of a casual vacancy.

• Be fixed at 9 members (Directors) and can only operate with less than 9 Directors in the event of a casual vacancy being created.

• Have a direct election model at AGMs, with the ability to vote online

• That a Nominations Committee be established to check and determine eligible candidates to stand for election to the Board and Divisional Councils, with the Nominations Committee comprising two Board members and three independent members (member of the Professional Division / Group and elected by the Board)

“It has been incredibly inspiring to be part of almost 200 elected members working together to blue sky the future; formulate strategies on how Australia may become a world leader in technology talent; determine how technology may enable an inclusive society and profession; and create an environment where Australians can fulfil their potential in a rapidly digitising world,” Ramasundara said.

“These considerations have been the lens applied to determine the requirements for ACS’ governance modernisation so that we too, as an organisation, can fulfil our potential as an enabler of Australia’s digital future.”

Information Age will publish a series of articles on what this means and looks like over the July and August 2019 period.