2008Q3 Reports: ACL 2010

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ACL 2010 Report

The 48th Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, will take place in Europe in 2010, and will be organized jointly with EACL.


MEMBERSHIP

The ACL 2010 Coordinating Committee currently has the following membership, in accordance with the guidelines:

ACL Executive:

 Steven Bird (as past-president in 2010)
 Drago Radev (secretary)
 Graeme Hirst (treasurer)
 Hwee Tou Ng (as newest member of ACL exec)

EACL Executive:

 Giorgio Satta (vice president, in place of Alex Lascarides)
 Anette Frank (secretary)
 Mike Rosner (treasurer)
 Eric Gaussier (additional member from EACL)

ACL Business Officer:

 Priscilla Rasmussen


BIDS

The committee considered three strong bids in February, and has now reached a consensus for a recommendation to the two Executive Boards (ACL and EACL) and we will announce the site of ACL 2010 at this year's conference.


REVIEW PROCESS

The committee recieved four preliminary bids in February, and provided detailed feedback to three of them and rejected the fourth. Some common issues across all preliminary bids were: the need to document the past experience of the proposers with organizing large events; the need for the venue to host four parallel sessions and a plenary session, all with sufficient capacity; the need to adhere to the budget template and provide estimates in both local currency and US dollars. These and many other issues are being documented in new detailed instructions to bidders, currently in preparation.

Three revised bids were received in early May, from Bulgaria, France, and Sweden. All three were impressive in presentation, painstaking attention to detail, and in the careful thought in coming up with venues, hotels and entertainment. Its a pity that ACL can't go to all three! In discussing the revised bids, the committee agreed on some points about ACL conferences that could be considered by future bidders: the value of lecture theatre seating with sloped floor and fixed or fold-away tables; the value of the conference and its satellite events being held in the one location; the expense of going for a fancy convention centre and lavish banquet; the need to help the committee picture the configuration of the venue and ease of movement between hotels, conference, transportation, and airports.

Reflecting on the overall bidding process, I believe it needs to be further streamlined. At present the expectations on bidders are not detailed enough, leading to differences of organization and level of detail that confound the reviewing process. Committee members need to have several hours to review the bids (for both rounds) and then participate in complex discussions over the following weeks. For detailed comparison of bids it was helpful to have a single spreadsheet containing budgets for all bids. The target dates for the conference need to be mapped out in light of the other ACL conferences to happen in the same year.


RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) Potential bidders should be asked to signal their intention to bid ~3 months ahead of the deadline, so that (i) they can be given additional materials and guidance; (ii) answers to questions posed by any bidder can be circulated to all bidders; (iii) there is time to promote the call for bids more intensively (e.g. by personal contact) in case it looks like there will be an insufficient number of bids.

(2) The president elect should be added to the coordinating committee in a non-voting role, in order to learn the process which s/he will need to operate the following year, and perhaps to be better connected to the organizers of the conference where s/he will deliver an address.

(3) The budget spreadsheet should use two currencies, local and USD, with an explicit conversion rate, so that major fluctuations in exchange rates can be taken into consideration.

(4) In addition to the budget template, there should be a proposal template, specifying the structure and content of bids in detail. The preliminary bid could omit certain sections (such as tourist information, letters of support).

(5) The call for bids should specify a range of dates that takes other CL conferences into account, in order to get maximal separation of conferences and avoid overlapping reviewing periods.


Steven Bird, Chair, ACL 2010 Coordinating Committee