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Memorandum of Understanding Between the System Dynamics Society, Conference Chair and Program Chair

July 16, 1999

The annual conference of the System Dynamics Society envisions a close working relationship between the Conference Chair, the Program Chair, the Society's Home Office and the Administrative committee of the Society. All four of these parties share an interest in a successful conference.

1. Conference Chair.

The Conference Chair has overall responsibility for the conference.

Specific Duties:


Assemble conference committee.


Find conference and accomodation space.


With input from the Home Office negotiate terms for, and manage conference and accomodation space, including AV equipment and sponsor exhibit space.


Manage local exhibitor arrangements including space allocation, connecting exhibitors with the appropriate facility people for any special needs they may have, providing information and support for any customs issues that arise.


Seek out local conference sponsorship. The Conference Chair may also choose to be responsible for collecting fees from local sponsors or may allow that task to be performed by the Home Office.


Set the conference schedule including the regular sessions, a social program, conference banquet, the general business meeting and special meetings of the Policy Council, Journal Editors and other committees with official society business.


Coordinate any special sessions such as a consultant's roundtable that might, with the approval of the Program Chair, be included in conference activities.


Be sure that attendees and guests have access to adequate information on travel to the conference and local tourist opportunities. This might be done by working with a local travel agent willing to undertake these duties.


Find volunteers willing to support the manning of the registration counter and act as room supervisors (room supervisors ensure that AV equipment is available, session chairs show up and seating is properly arranged).


Create and reproduce a printed program and any printed scientific content that is made available at the conference.

Subject to budget constraints, final decision making on all aspects of the conference will rest with the Conference Chair.

2. Program Chair.

The President Elect of the Society is the ex-officio Program Chair. The Program Chair has overall responsibility for the scientific content of the conference.

Specific Duties:


Assemble a program committee and define the conference specific content of the call for papers and other conference advertising.


Oversee the review all work submitted for presentation at the conference.


Select work appropriate for presentation and design the scientific program of plenary and parallel sessions.


Clarify any issues or ambiguities regarding the intellectual content of papers submitted including issues relating to copyright.


Design the organizing principles and table of contents for any electronic or other proceedings.


Appoint and contact session chairs with reasonable plans for last minute adjustments due to no-shows or other circumstances.


The Program Chair is normally allocated a modest budget to reimburse postage and telephone expenses and should not exceed that budget without the consent of the administrative committee.

3. Society's Home Office

The executive director of the Society will be the primary administrator for the conference and will oversee the logistical support of the conference working through the Home Office.

Specific Duties:


Conference publicity including the production and distribution of the call for papers and two or more mailings to be sent to the general membership and other related mailing lists.


Solicitation, development and collection from all sponsors and exhibitors who are not local to the conference site and explicitly being targeted by the Conference Chair.


Collection of local sponsorship payments unless the Conference Chair wishes to undertake this responsibility.


Registration (both advanced and on-site) including collection of conference fees, mailing of confirmations and maintenance of a list of registrants.


Oversight of conference website on society home page.


Creation of a CD or other form of electronic proceedings.


On-site management of registration and help desk, and the distribution and collection of a conference evaluation form.


Maintenance of the conference budget including a full statement of costs and expenses issued within three months of the conference.

In this capacity, the Society's Home Office will provide a bundle of logistical and support services to the Conference Chair much the same as a conference organizing firm might. These services will be delimited in advance by the full conference budget. Because a number of the functions associated with the conference including mailing, managing registration and soliciting sponsorship, are repeated from year to year, having the Society's Home Office involved in these functions will lead to more consistency and hopefully more successful conferences.

4. Administrative Committee

The administrative committee is responsible for managing any changes related to the conference budget.

Specific Duties:


Develop a budget that is realistic and workable from the perspective of both the Conference Chair and the Home Office.


Monitor performance against this budget monthly to see if any issues are emerging.


Report to the Policy Council on the financial performance of the conference.

This budget developed by the Administrative Committee must be approved by the Policy Council. The Administrative Committee may authorize changes relative to the approved budget when they believe these changes further the interests of the Society. Any changes made will be noted in reports made to the Policy Council.

NOTE The VP Meetings (me) is not on the Administrative Committee, but we should probably make the VP - meetings an ex-officio member. I am not tempted to lay this responsibility directly on VP - Meetings, since it involves spending).

5. The Conference Budget.

All parties associated with the conference will agree on a conference budget as part of the conference proposal process. This budget gives spending authority to the Conference Chair, and to the Society's Home Office. Each party is free to spend within the limits of the pre-approved conference budget, but only the Administrative committee can approve any change in the budget.

The final approved budget will be based on a lower bound estimate of conference attendance and include a variable cost per attendee at higher attendance. The budget will also include a best estimate of conference attendance and an upper bound estimate of conference attendance. It should include a budget surplus of at least US$25/attendee (and no less than US$5000) at the lower bound, US$70/attendee (and no less than US$20,000) at the best estimate and at least US$100/attendee at the upper bound. The budget will delineate costs for the Conference Chair, the Home Office and the Program Chair. The System Dynamics Society guarantees to transfer to the Conference Chair the amount budgeted at the lower bound attendance and to reimburse the Program Chair up to the amount budgeted based on actual expenses. If attendance exceeds the lower bound estimate Society will pay the additional amount per attendee specified in the budget to the Conference Chair. No other payments will be made to the Conference Chair. If the Conference Chair manages expenses below budget the Conference Chair may allocate that excess to any non-commercial activity they choose or remit it the Society.

6. Local Sponsorship

The Conference Chair has responsibility for seeking local conference sponsorship and it is recognized that this can take many forms, including payment in kind. In general, any local sponsor that receives a benefit for their sponsorship would be expected to pay into the conference an amount equal to the standard charge for that level of sponsorship. For example, a local sponsor acting as an exhibitor would be expected to pay the exhibition fee into conference receipts either directly to the Home Office, or through the Conference Chair.

The budget should include a statement outlining what will be done with additional payments beyond the standard charge. While there is no prescribed formula for this, it is reasonable that some fraction of such sponsorship be paid into conference receipts with the remainder used to enhance the quality of the conference without an increase in the conference budget as administered by the Home Office. Any changes made to the procedure for dealing with local sponsorship must be approved by the Administrative Committee, just as for any budget change.

7. Reaching a Written Agreement in Advance.

This memorandum of understanding or an approved modification will be signed on the official acceptance of the conference site and again one year prior to the conference. If, in addition to the named Conference Chair, there is a legal entity (University, Corporation or Society) that will be acting on behalf of the Conference Chair, that legal entity must also sign the memorandum of agreement. The Vice President - Finance will sign on behalf of the Administrative Committee and the Secretary will sign on behalf of the Society. The Executive Director will sign for the Home Office.

The conference budget is herein incorporated by reference.

VP Finance ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year _______________.

Conference Chair ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year _______________.

Conference Chair's Organization ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year _______________.

Program Chair ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year _______________.

Secretary ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year ______________.

Executive Director ____________________________ : signed, this ________________ day of ___________________ in the year ______________.



Last modified: February 17, 2001