Posted by: Administrator | 21/10/2009

Robert Wilson: Cutting costs

As has been mentioned several times on this blog, a vitally important issue for the continuing LMS is to decide its priorities for spending its limited financial resources. It is of course easy to say that we want more money spent on grants and less on administration, but how can we actually do that in practice?

Financial rules for charities require that salaries of the highest-paid employees are put in the public domain. From the report available from the LMS website, http://www.lms.ac.uk/policy/annualreports/trustees_08.pdf, page 28, we see that last year the salary of one employee was betwen £80K and £90K, which is more than one-third of the *total* amount spent on grants. I would hazard a guess that it was also considerably more than the salary of most mathematics professors, even in London.

The need to appoint a new Executive Secretary gives the LMS the opportunity to reconsider the amount spent on this post. This is a matter which the new Council should look into. My recollection is that this post was created at a time when the LMS felt it was needed, in order to take some of the burdens off the elected Officers, and Council and Committee members. Perhaps now when the LMS is having to look more carefully at costs, it is time to reconsider the scope of duties of the new Executive Secretary. In particular, the LMS should look at which roles are more appropriately taken by elected members. Some roles might even sensibly be farmed out to volunteers among ourselves, the ordinary LMS members, as is already done with much of the editorial work for LMS publications.

This must be done before a job description for the new Executive Secretary is drawn up. In my opinion it should be possible to draw up a job description which adequately relieves the burden on elected Officers, Council and committee members, and which commands perhaps no more than a Senior Lecturer’s salary.

(Let me make it clear again that I am talking only about the job description for the post when it becomes vacant, not about the incumbent Executive Secretary.)

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