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The Future of PASC

by Lowell Johnson

Lowell Johnson is the chair of the IEEE Portable Applications Standards Committee (PASC).

PASC has finished most of the work it was originally created to complete. In fact, we are currently doing a major revision of the primary POSIX standards and rolling them into a single (very large) standard. There are also several projects with continued work and, of course, there can always be new projects approved, but our work is mostly done.

Consequently, we have changed our meeting schedule to try to reduce costs. Our current policy is to hold two meetings per year through 2000, and one meeting per year thereafter. These are the plenary meetings of PASC and all of its executive committees. However, individual working groups may meet more frequently, and actually should if they are currently working on standards.

The main reason for these changes is financial — it simply costs too much to hold plenary meetings where few people show up. Hotels normally only give meeting rooms gratis when you can guarantee a sufficiently large block of sleeping rooms. We have not always met this requirement in the last year or two, which costs the IEEE Computer Society a lot of money. If any of the readers of this column have any suggestions on how to increase attendance, or can attend themselves, it would greatly help both our financial status, and would enable the work to be completed that much sooner.

We are doing several things to try to offset the reduced meeting frequency:

  1. We are encouraging individual working groups to meet one or more times between the current PASC plenary meeting schedule. There is nothing to prevent meeting very frequently if needed. The Y2K standards group met once a month when it was under pressure to complete its work.
  2. We are also encouraging companies or other institutions to host these small group meetings. We have already had such meetings sponsored by companies like Sun and Unisys, as well as government entities such as DISA and NIST. The host may supply just a meeting room and projector, or they may wish to also supply meals and other amenities.
  3. We are currently trying to modify our procedures to allow electronic meetings and electronic balloting on motions. This will take a bit longer because the modified procedures must first be approved at a plenary meeting. In the longer term, as PASC becomes mainly a maintenance organization for its existing standards, most of its work will be able to be done electronically.

However, please note that lack of participation, whether electronic or attending face-to-face meetings, can only be interpreted as lack of interest by the corporate, academic, and military arenas. Such lack of interest will result in the cancellation of projects or failure to start new projects.

If you want standards, you must participate!!!

Further information about PASC activities can be found on the PASC Web site <>.


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