Minutes of the Bioinformatics Standards Committee P1953 Meeting
Monday, February 28, 2005

Betty Cheng, Recorder BSC
Vincent Yao, Oregon Health Sciences
Ron Taylor, Pacific Northwest National Labs (Battelle, Wa)
Asim Saddiqui, Genome Sciences Center, Vancouver
Suzanna Lewis, Berkeley
Bob Davis, Chair – MSC committee (Sponsoring Committee for the BSC)

There were three (3) major items on the agenda: the proposed operating procedures of the BSC, revision of the scope and purpose statement and discussion of the elections for officers.

Item One: Proposed Operating Procedures of the BSC.

The discussion made frequent reference to the proposed Operating procedures for BSC, which have been included below (text in Capitals and blue font) for convenient reference. Discussions on specific points have been inserted into the body of the text.

Operating Procedures for Bioinformatics Standards Committee (BSC) Working Group (P1953)

1. Preface

In today’s technological environment, standards play a critical role in product development and market share. Responsibility for how a standard evolves begins in the working group. Every input, behavior, and action has both a contributory and a potential legal consequence. These procedures help protect working group members and the IEEE.

These operating procedures outline the orderly transaction of business by the BSC Working Group. The working group may amend these procedures with the approval of its Sponsor.

2. Hierarchy

Several documents take precedence over these procedures in the following order:

New York State Not-for-Profit Law
IEEE Certificate of Incorporation
IEEE Constitution
IEEE Bylaws
IEEE Policies
IEEE Board of Directors Resolutions
IEEE Standards Association Operations Manual
IEEE-SA Board of Governors Resolutions
IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws
IEEE-SA Standards Board Operations Manual
IEEE Sponsor Standards Operating Procedures

Robert's Rules of Order (Revised) will be followed for parliamentary matters not discussed in this document or in superior documents.

3. Fundamental Principles of Operation

For the development of standards, openness and due process must apply, which means that any entity with a direct and material interest has a right to participate by:

1) Expressing a position and its basis,
2) Having that position considered, and
3) Appealing if adversely affected.

Due process allows for equity and fair play. In addition to openness, due process requires balance, i.e., the standards development process should have a balance of interests and shall not be dominated by any single interest category. IEEE due process also requires a consensus of those parties interested in the project. Consensus is defined as at least a majority agreement, but not unanimity.

4. Legal Accountability

The working group shall

a) Abide by all intellectual property policies of the IEEE, including those for patents, trademarks, and copyright
b) Conduct a call for patents at the start of each meeting

How do we guarantee that a patent that is under development in a large organization such as the National labs be included?
It is impossible to collect such information systematically. There is no guarantee, compliance is voluntary.

c) Avoid discussions that could result in an antitrust action.

If health, safety and environmental issues are raised in the standards document developed by the working group, the chair will inform IEEE Standards staff to ensure that the appropriate legal review of these clauses is fulfilled.

Working group participants should always consider the IEEE Code of Ethics when taking action.

4.1 Copyright Sign-Off

All participants in IEEE Standards working groups are required to sign the Copyright Sign-Off Form prior to active participation and/or voting in any working group meeting. Without this form, the Chair shall forbid participation by that person in working group activities.

Why is this copyright requirement needed? Why not an open release? It prevents anyone else from copying the standards, making trivial modifications, obtaining a copyright and then releasing the document as the official IEEE standard.

Note – some of the items in the operating procedures are specifically present to keeps the procedures in line with the American National Standards Assoc.(or Institute?) (ANSI)

4.2 Indemnification

IEEE Bylaw I-300.3 discusses the IEEE rules for indemnification. Participants must be included in the working group roster by completing a membership registration form and have signed the Copyright Sign-Off Form to be recognized as a duly authorized participant in IEEE standards development activities.

The IEEE Bylaws are on the website – run a search to obtain a copy. Interpretation by Battelle’s legal group – they cannot accept this.

However, other Standards groups do not have trouble with this and they do work with the National Labs.

Resolution- obtain copy of IEEE bylaw I-300.3 through the web for the Battelle legal group.

This discussion tabled for now. Follow up via email.

5. Working Group Responsibilities

The working group shall
a) Complete the project from Project Authorization Request (PAR) approval to IEEE-SA Standards Board approval within the allotted time (normally 48 months)
b) Provide a business rationale for the development of the standard
c) Submit to the Sponsor any required documentation; for example, a project schedule or a monthly status report
d) Schedule meetings (in person or electronic) as appropriate, based on an agenda distributed at least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting
e) Obtain funding to cover dedicated support from the IEEE Standards Department when desired to expedite the standards development process
f) Use the IEEE Standards document template format
g) Notify the Sponsor of the draft development
h) Notify the Sponsor when the draft is ready to begin IEEE Standards Sponsor ballot

6. Officers

There shall be a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary. The office of Treasurer is suggested if significant funds are involved in the operation of the working group and/or its subcommittees.

All officers shall be IEEE members of any grade and individual IEEE-SA members.

The Chair, for organizational purposes, will work with the Sponsor to submit the PAR form to the New Standards Committee (NesCom). At the first organizational meeting, the working group shall elect its operating officers in accordance with the procedures of its Sponsor, and, where necessary, Robert’s Rules of Order.

6.1 Election of Officers

The Chair shall appoint a Returning Officer to conduct an election of officers. The Returning Officer shall not be a nominee in the election and shall not vote in the election. An election will seek to fill offices that are either vacant, have an official in temporary appointment, or when the term of office has expired.

The members shall nominate to the Returning Officer one or more members for each office to be filled at the election. Nominees shall be eligible to hold the office for which they are elected. A member shall be nominated for no more than one office. The response period for nominations shall be at least 14 calendar days. If no nomination is received for an office, a temporary appointment shall be made in accordance with 6.2.

The Returning Officer shall conduct the election by letter or electronic ballot. Voting will conclude after 14 calendar days. Voting shall be by “approval”, whereby each balloter may cast one approval vote for each of any number of nominees for an office. The nominee with the greatest number of approval votes shall win the election, provided ballots are returned by a majority of the eligible voters for that election.

The Sponsor shall confirm the election of the Chair and Vice-Chair.

6.2 Temporary Appointments to Vacancies

If an office becomes vacant due to resignation, removal, lack of nomination at an election or for another reason, a temporary appointment shall be made for a period of up to six months. In the case of Chair or Vice-Chair, the Sponsor shall make the temporary appointment, with input from the working group. In the case of Secretary, the Chair shall make the temporary appointment. An election for the vacated office shall be conducted at the earliest practical time.

6.3 Removal of officers

An officer may be removed by approval of two-thirds of the voting members of the working group. Removal of the Chair and Vice-Chair requires confirmation by the Sponsor. Grounds for removal shall be included in any motion to remove an officer of the working group.

6.4 Responsibilities of Working Group Officers

6.4.1 Chair

The Chair shall
a) Institute a “Call for Participation” to the IEEE-SA membership upon initiation of the project
b) Conduct a “Call for Patents” at each meeting
c) Solicit “letters of assurance” from potential patent holders
d) Ensure coordination with other IEEE Standards Sponsors as appropriate
e) Regularly attend working group meetings (including face-to-face, teleconference, or other electronic means)
f) Notify Sponsor when document is ready for balloting

The Chair also shall
a) Be objective
b) Entertain motions, but not make motions
c) Not bias discussions
d) Delegate necessary functions
e) Ensure that all parties have the opportunity to express their views
f) Set goals and deadlines
g) Be knowledgeable in IEEE standards processes and parliamentary procedures and ensure that the processes and procedures are followed
h) Study training materials available through IEEE Standards Development Online
i) Seek consensus of the working group as a means of resolving all issues

6.4.2 Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair shall
a) Carry out the Chair's duties if the Chair is temporarily unable to do so or chooses to recuse himself or herself (i.e., to give a technical opinion)
b) Study training materials available through IEEE Standards Development Online

6.4.3 Secretary

The Secretary shall
a) Distribute the agendas
b) Record and have published minutes of each meeting
c) Create and maintain the membership roster
d) Schedule meetings in coordination with the Chair
e) Be responsible for the management and distribution of working group documentation
f) Maintain list of unresolved issues, action items, and assignments
g) Study training material available through IEEE Standards Development Online

6.4.4 Treasurer

If needed, a Treasurer shall
a) Maintain a budget
b) Control all funds into and out of the working group’s bank account
c) Follow IEEE policies concerning standards meetings and finances
d) Study training material available through IEEE Standards Development Online

7. Working Group Membership

Working group membership is either by individual or by both individuals and entities. If the working group membership is solely by entity, then the IEEE-SA Procedures for Corporate Working Groups shall be followed. Participants shall pay any funding services fee, if established, and shall fulfill the requirements to gain and maintain membership in the working group.

No one person can represent the interests of more than one member of the working group except for a temporary proxy vote.

Membership shall be granted automatically to those persons attending the first working group meeting. Thereafter, membership shall be granted after the person attends two consecutive meetings of the working group.

Each member is expected to attend meetings as required by these procedures. The Secretary records attendance for members who attend at least 50% of a meeting’s duration. Attendance at a meeting via teleconferencing and/or electronic means, e.g., Internet conferencing, shall count towards the attendance requirements.

Membership status is maintained through consistent participation at meetings and through working group votes. If a working group member misses three (3) consecutive meetings, his or her membership status shall be revoked. The Chair shall notify, in writing, a member who fails to attend two consecutive meetings and that has therefore lost his or her membership.

A member who has lost his or her voting privileges shall have his or her voting privileges reinstated by attendance at two consecutive meetings of the working group. All voting privileges and rights shall be restored after attending the second consecutive meeting. If, for reasons of personal hardship, a member cannot attend two consecutive meetings (but that member continues to vote in ballots taken between meetings), the working group will be consulted on the status of the member.

The members within a working group should have a material knowledge of the project scope.

Non-members may also participate in working group activities, following the principle of openness. Non-members shall not vote in working group actions.

7.1 Subgroups of the Working Group

The working group may, from time to time, form subgroups for the conduct of its business and determine the eligibility of working group members and observers to vote on questions within such subgroups. At the time of formation, the working group shall determine the scope and duties delegated to the subgroup. Any changes to its scope and duties will require the approval of the working group. Any resolution of a subgroup shall be subject to confirmation by the working group.

The Chair of the working group shall appoint the chair of the subgroup.

8. Working Group Membership Roster

A working group membership roster is a vital aspect of standards development. It serves as a record of participants in the working group and is an initial tool if an issue of indemnification arises during the process of standards development. The Secretary shall maintain a current and accurate roster for the working group and shall distribute it to the members upon request or at least annually. All changes to the roster shall be forwarded to the Chair immediately. The roster shall include the following at a minimum:

1) Title of the Sponsor and its designation
2) Title of the working group and its designation
3) Officers--Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer
4) Standards Staff Liaison (if applicable)
5) Members

All working group members are required to check the roster at each face-to-face meeting and verify its accuracy. If a working group meets only virtually, it shall determine a schedule to check the roster accuracy periodically.

All working group members are required to sign off against the roster at each meeting they attend, ensuring they are maintaining current membership, expressing their awareness of IEEE Standards policies, and verifying the accuracy of their membership listing.

A copy of the working group roster shall be supplied to the IEEE Standards Department at least annually.

9. Voting

Approval of an action requires an approval vote from a majority of those votes cast from those entitled to vote at the time of a vote (either at a meeting or by letter or electronic ballot), provided a quorum is present. Those able to vote shall be official members of the working group. Notification of the potential for action shall be included on any distributed agendas for meetings.

These actions include

1) Adoption of working group procedures, interest categories, or revisions thereof
2) Formation of a subgroup, including its procedures, scope and duties
3) Disbandment of subgroups
4) Approval of minutes
5) Approval of working group officers

9.1 Actions Requiring Approval by Two-Thirds of the Voting Working Group Membership

The following actions require an electronic ballot or an equivalent formal recorded vote with approval by at least two-thirds of the voting members of the working group, excluding abstentions (provided that notification of the action has been included on the distributed agenda for the meeting):

1) Approval of change of the working group scope
2) Approval of termination of the working group
3) Establishment of fees
4) Removal of a working group officer (see clause 6.3)
5) Approval to move the draft standards project to IEEE Standards Sponsor ballot

These actions are subject to confirmation by the Sponsor.

9.2 Proxy Voting

Proxy voting is allowed in the working group. The working group chair must approve all proxies prior to the meeting or time period in which the proxy is to be in effect. Proxy voting must be determined for finite time periods and may be renewed if necessary. Any proxy voters must be announced to the working group prior to the period in which the proxy is to be in effect. Proxies may only vote on approved agenda items announced to the working group through the distributed agenda prior to the meeting.

10. Quorum

A working group quorum must be identified before the initiation of working group business. A quorum shall be defined as 5 members of the working group. A working group vote requires the presence of a quorum.

11. Meetings

Working Group meetings shall be held, as decided by the working group, the Chair, or by petition of 15% or more of the members, to conduct business, such as making assignments, receiving reports of work, considering draft standards, and considering views and objections from any source. Meetings of any ballot review group shall adhere to the same principles as working group meetings.

A meeting shall be announced 30 calendar days in advance to all members and observers. An agenda shall be distributed at least 14 calendar days in advance of a meeting.

The working group may charge a meeting fee to cover services needed for the conduct of the meeting. The fee shall not be used to restrict participation by any interested parties.

While having a balance of all interested parties is not an official requirement for a working group, it is a desirable goal. As such, the officers of the working group should consider issues of balance that may arise and discuss them with the Sponsor.

It is expected that participants in the working group behave in a professional manner at all times. Participants should demonstrate respect and courtesy towards officers and each other, while allowing participants a fair and equal opportunity to contribute to the meeting.

Members may be asked to announce their affiliation at a working group meeting. If the member is a consultant, that member may be asked to declare if he or she represents the interests of an organization other than himself or herself at the meeting.

12. Appeals

The working group recognizes the right of appeal. If technical or procedural appeals are referred back to the working group, every effort should be made to ensure that impartial handling of complaints regarding any action or inaction on the part of the committee is performed in an identifiable manner.

If the working group must conduct an appeal, it shall model its appeals process based on the appeals processes of the IEEESA Standards Board (see clause 5.4 of the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws and clause 5.8 of the IEEE-SA Standards Board Operations Manual).

13. Communications

Inquiries relating to the working group should be directed to the Chair. All replies to such inquiries shall be made through the Chair. Informal communications shall not imply that they are a formal position of the working group.

Item two: Scope and Purpose of the BSC

Objectives: The objectives are to provide a standard reference system for information on Bioinformatics data structures that can be used to help support exchange and comparison of biological data sets in the life sciences disciplines.

The IEEE will support the standards submitted through the P1953 framework (described below). The IEEE will provide support for the standards development process by providing resources, act as mediators upon request, act as consultants when necessary to guide the development process and ensure global access to the standards upon release including hosting workshops, conferences and other materials to support the standard.

The Bioinformatics Standards Committee (BSC) will act as a liaison between groups in the bioscience community who are developing standards for biological objects and the IEEE. Initially, the BSC will survey the field to establish contacts with the development groups and solicit volunteers to act as representatives for their group. The BSC will educate standards development groups about the resources provided by the IEEE, provide a forum where different groups may establish contact and submit prospective standards to the IEEE. The BSC will serve as a forum for proposed development of standards in new areas and integration of established standards. The BSC will submit proposals to the IEEE for projects, conferences, workshops related to standards in the area of life sciences.

P 1953, the proposed framework, will provide a consistent reference system or database framework for maintaining and representing dynamic biological information. This information can then be used as needed as a consistent reference source for aiding in the discovery, comparison, exchange, and integration of bioinformatics data sets throughout the community. The IEEE successful mechanisms for announcing, incorporating and tracking changes will be used in all P 1953 sections.

There were no revisions at the time of the meeting. There will be a two-week comment period. If no comments are submitted at the end of the two weeks, then there will be a vote to determine if we will adopt this statement at the next meeting (March 28th, 9 AM PST) If there are proposed changes or comments, then there will be a discussion on March 28th and the vote will be postponed until the meeting afterwards (most likely April 28th – date & time to be confirmed).

Item three: Election of officers

Organizational structure: The IEEE Standards Board is the group that oversees activities in this area. Underneath the Board, there are 1) the New Standards Committee (Nescom) which recommends/approves new projects, (We have already been approved) and 2) the Review Committee (RevCom) oversees the various groups developing standards to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place ensuring an open and fair process.

The BSC working group is sponsored by the Microprocessor Standards Group, and all officers, statements, procedures have been adopted under the authority of the MSC. Bob Davis would be the “Returning Officer” (see the proposed procedures above) who would run the election.

There is a requirement that elected officers should be IEEE members. Just as a note, Betty Cheng, Vicky Markstein, Suzanna Lewis and Asim Siddiqui are members.

There were no suggested changes or revisions to the procedure for the nomination and election of officers. There will be a two week period where comments and suggestions for revisions may be submitted.

Unless a comment or suggestion for revision for the procedures is submitted that would require a change to the nominating/voting process, we will accept nominations for officers starting now.

If there are any further questions about IEEE policy – contact Bob Davis (bob@scsi.com)

Motion to end the meeting at 9:50 AM PST

ACTION ITEMS from meeting:

Locate URL for the IEEE bylaws:
http://www.ieee.org/portal/site/mainsite/menuitem.818c0c39e85ef176fb2275875bac26c8 /index.jsp?&pName=corp_level1&path=about/whatis/bylaws&file=index.xml&xsl=gene ric.xsl

IEEE bylaw I-300.3:
http://www.ieee.org/portal/site/mainsite/menuitem.818c0c39e85ef176fb2275875bac26c8 /index.jsp?&pName=corp_level1&path=about/whatis/bylaws&file=i- 300.xml&xsl=generic.xsl

We will accept comments and revisions to procedures or the statement of scope and purpose for the BSC for two week period beginning Feb. 28th ending March 14th. Post comments to the mailing list:


We are accepting nominations for the following elected positions:


At the present time, Vicky Markstein is the Chair and Betty Cheng is the Secretary.
Please send nominations to Bob Davis (email: Bob@scsi.com)

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