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August 04, 2009

Proposal: A Technical Steering Committee for SIGCOMM

Over the last several months, the SIGCOMM Executive Committee has worked on a proposal to introduce a Technical Steering Committee (TSC) for the SIGCOMM conference. The overriding goal of the proposal is to create a body with the expertise and institutional memory to advise PC chairs on technical matters. We hope to strike a balance between providing effective, informed guidance to PC chairs while also giving them appropriate autonomy. We have been gathering input on this proposal, and the current draft appears below. Please note that this is a draft -- we very much want to receive feedback on it from the community. We plan to discuss it at the Community Feedback session in Barcelona. Comments are also welcome on the blog or via e-mail.

Technical Steering Committee, Draft Proposal


The role of the Technical Steering Committee is to oversee the technical aspects of the conference. It selects and oversees the PC chairs, and it serves as a knowledge repository for best practices related to the PC and paper selection process. The TSC is expected to maintain publically documented policies and to develop policies with input from the entire SIGCOMM community.


The members and chair of the TSC are appointed by the SIGCOMM Chair. There are 6 members, and membership lasts three years. Every year, one of the PC co-chairs is appointed and serves for the next 3 years. In addition, each year the SIGCOMM Chair appoints a representative member of the Sigcomm community to complete the TSC who then serves for 3 years. Such members should be senior people with some history in the SIGCOMM conference community and experience in conference organization
or program committees. (Note: in the start-up year, 6 people will need to be appointed with terms ranging from one to three years; in steady state, 2 members' terms expire and 2 new members are appointed each year.)

Rationale: past experience indicates that a small committee is likely to function more efficiently. One PC chair from each year is sufficient to provide input from that year's process, and the TSC is of course free to consult the other chair (or chairs from prior years). The presence of outside members is intended to ensure that the committee is open to new ideas while the presence of previous years' PC chairs aims to maintain knowledge of what has and hasn't worked well in recent years.


The TSC has ultimate responsibility for the functions described below (i.e., it is not purely an advisory body). It is expected to gather input from the SIGCOMM community in the process of performing these roles.

1) Select PC chairs.

2) Give guidance and advice to PC chairs on the paper selection process. The TSC is the repository of knowledge about what has happened in previous conferences and PC meetings. (Ideally the TSC will maintain private records to facilitate preserving and transferring knowledge).

3) Provide assistance and recommendations on PC makeup, including PC composition and the pros and cons of specific PC members. PC chairs retain final decision on PC membership but are required to consult with the TSC before making their decision.

4) Set policies and provide advice related to award paper selection, conflict of interest policy, dual-submission and plagiarism.

5) Maintain an active dialog with the SIGCOMM community related to technical aspects of the conference (e.g., topic coverage, paper quality, etc). An open dialog via a website or blog is a good idea.

6) Give guidance/advice on other aspects of the technical program and process. For example, integrating on-line or other possibly-new Internet-based components, panel discussions, new reviewing methods, reviewer feedback, etc.