Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More on executive bonuses at the ACS

This memo from "ACS Insider" has been sent directly to many librarians and university administrators, and to at least one public listserv, NASW-Freelance from the National Association of Science Writers.  I received  a copy from one of the recipients.  I don't know anything about the pseudonymous author. 

I've been an ACS [American Chemical Society] employee for many, many years, but I've grown  concerned with the direction of the organization. I'm sending this email to  alert you that ACS has grown increasingly corporate in its structure and focus. Management is much more concerned with getting bonuses and growing their salaries rather than doing what is best for membership. For instance, Madeleine Jacobs now pulling in almost $1 million in salary and bonuses. That's almost 3X what Alan Leshner makes over at AAAS, and almost double what Drew Gilpin Faust makes to lead Harvard.

I think Madeleine is smart, but I'm not quite sure if she's in the  same category as Dr. Faust. She doesn't even have a PhD!

What really concerns me is a move by ACS management to undermine the open-access movement. Rudy Baum has been leading the fight with  several humorous editorials -- one in which he referred to open-access in the pages of C&EN as "socialized science." ACS has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership money to hire a company to lobby against open-access.

What troubles me the most is when ACS management decided to hire Dezenhall Resources to fight open-access. Nature got hold of some internal ACS emails written by Brian Crawford that discussed how Dezenhall could help us undermine open-access. Dezenhall later  created a group called Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and  Medicine (PRISM), which has this silly argument that open-access means "no more peer-review."

If you're wondering why ACS is fighting this, it's because people like Rudy Baum, Brian Crawford and other ACS managers receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates. Hurt the  publishing revenue; you hurt their bonuses.

I'm hoping that sending out this email will get people to force ACS executives to become more transparent in how they act and spend membership money. Not to mention their crazy need for fatter salaries.

It's time for some change. If you want to check out the sources for  this information, there is a wiki site that has all the articles and documents outlining what I've just written.  You can find it here.

Those of inside ACS know that it's time for things to change. But management won't alter their behavior. The money is just too good.


  • The claim that ACS executives "receive bonuses based on how much money the publishing division generates" was also made by Paul Thacker in the Summer 2007 issue of SEJournal.  See my blog comments on it from last week. 
  • Thacker's article was published with a sidebar noting that "Bill Carroll, former ACS president, wrote to say...that he chaired the [ACS] compensation committee but it does not evaluate or award bonuses to editorial employees."  I regard this as a disputed question of fact and hope that someone can resolve it one way or the other before long.
  • But apart from what is or isn't happening at the ACS, there's an important issue here.  Are the societies most active in lobbying against government OA policies paying executive bonuses based on publication revenue?  When society executives speak out against OA, how often are they speaking for the interests of their societies and how often are they speaking from personal interest? 
  • Let me repeat this request from my blog comment last week:  If your professional society has opposed government OA policies, try to find out whether its executives get bonuses based on the revenues or profits of its publications.  If they do, ask in a public meeting whether they believe this is a conflict of interest.