79th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society
Dallas, TX, 10-15 January 1999
We present below a financial analysis of the 79th Annual Meeting of the AMS. The purpose of this analysis is to provide Society members with insight into the size and complexity of the Annual Meeting. Our Annual Meeting was attended by less than 1000 members and friends as recently as the late 1980s. At the 79th, registrants numbered nearly 2500, and with exhibitors and others the total attendance was estimated at 3500. This growth has resulted in the enhancement of the interdisciplinary scientific exchange among the atmospheric and related sciences and the engaging of the private, industrial sector through the exhibits program, and through the scholarship/fellowship program. The engaging of the private sector and government has been very successful, providing support to students through the scholarship/fellowship program. The interdisciplinary objective has worked to some degree and changes will be made to improve that aspect. The international participation has increased significantly over the past ten years, and there were 415 non-U.S. scientists at the 79th Annual Meeting.
The Council of the AMS has established a financial philosophy which states in part
"The meetings and exhibits program and the publication of books by the Society should be expected on a long-term average to break even financially even though they may show either positive or negative balances on a year-to-year basis." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 77, no. 6, June 1996, p.1430.
With respect to the Annual Meeting, this philosophy has been interpreted as striving to achieve a positive residual, because the excess revenue from the Annual Meeting is usually necessary to balance negative residuals associated with specialty conferences during the year. As will be noted, the 79th Annual Meeting ended with an estimated positive balance of $149K.
The information presented here is an estimate because of two factors: first, as of this writing, not all of the revenue from the various sources has actually been collected. Second, and more importantly, the AMS does not use precise time accounting procedures for the professional staff, as might be done in a law firm where attorneys are obliged to account for their time in 15 minutes blocs. We regard this practice as unproductive overhead, especially with a relatively small staff each of whom may perform many different tasks during the course of a day. Instead, we estimate the allocations of staff time against major tasks. For example, a member of the meetings staff may work on tasks associated with several different meetings during the course of a single day. Management has made a best effort to aggregate staff time to each meeting, based on staff input, but because staff salaries are a major expense component, the uncertainty in the allocation can result in considerable variation in the net residual associated with a particular meeting. It is therefore prudent to note this uncertainty in the net residual for a given meeting. On the other hand, the aggregate of staff costs to the meetings budget over the course of a year is a much firmer number.
We have included a considerable level of detail in the presentation of this analysis; it may be too detailed for some readers, and insufficiently detailed for others. It is difficult to strike the right balance, but we have tried to err on the side of too much rather than too little. We have done some consolidation in the presentation of the analysis, and have noted where that occurred in the line-by-line explanation of the table, which follows the table itself.
A separate analysis of the finances of the short courses has been completed and is presented here.
Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of our corporate and agency sponsors for both direct and in-kind support.
© 1999 American Meteorological Society