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An idea whose time had come (Part 3 of 3)

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Eugene M. FrankIn a series of three blog posts, ISACA’s 1972-1973 president, Eugene M. Frank, tells his story of how the association was established.

After I enlisted Bud Friedman as a colleague in trying to bring the association back to life, he and I drafted a letter that would be sent to all who were listed as EDPAA members, although there were no membership requirements or dues.

Bud had his department management’s financial support to have a sufficient number of copies made and mailed to every name on the EDPAA membership list.

The letter was an invitation to a meeting to be held on 25 January 1972 for the purpose of reorganizing the EDPAA. Incorporated in the letter were the vision and the possibilities to create interest, even curiosity, but the main selling job would take place at the meeting.

There were 26 people at the January meeting, including Bud Friedman and me. The importance of that meeting cannot be overstressed. If the meeting were successful, EDPAA would be off and running again. If we could not excite the other 24 attendees to join in the reorganization and rebirth of the association, it would be unlikely that we would have another opportunity. There would be no EDPAA and, therefore, probably no ISACA. I know we celebrate 1969 as the founding of ISACA. That is when the incorporation documents were signed. But, the real founding of ISACA, as we know it, occurred on 25 January 1972 at that reorganization meeting.

At the meeting, I informed the attendees of the resignations of the prior board and I stated the purpose of the meeting. As the theme of the meeting, I chose “An Idea Whose Time Had Come.” I restated the purpose and objectives of the EDPAA, and I described my vision and the possibilities I saw for the association. I presented the organizational structure of a new EDPAA I had created, incorporating about 20 positions to ensure the active participation of many. The responsibility for the operations and success of the association had to be shared—the intent was not for Bud or me or any one person to shoulder the full operational load. But, I did volunteer to lead as the association president, and Bud volunteered to be the first vice president.

Whatever I said and whatever Bud said, together we managed to create the interest needed to go forward with a reorganized association. I was elected president and Bud first vice president, and of equal importance, every position in the new organization structure was filled. A membership fee was voted on and established. By the conclusion of the meeting, EDPAA had been reborn.

No more than three months later, the Equity Funding scandal broke. It made the headlines of most newspapers and EDP magazines. Bud Friedman submitted a letter to the editor in response to an article on the scandal appearing in ComputerWorld, and overnight the EDP community became aware of the association’s existence.

The Equity Funding scandal was believed to be the first NYSE corporate fraud case involving the use of computers. Later, it was determined not to be the case. The fraud was actually perpetrated by high-level corporate officials manufacturing fraudulent insurance policies during “night parties.” Computers were not directly involved. But, after Bud’s letter was published, the association was inundated with mail from all over the US. The contents were much the same: asking for more information about EDPAA and how to become a member. The response was sudden, unexpected and overwhelming.

As a result of all this sudden attention, we (the EDPAA officers and board) decided to restructure the association into a national organization able to add chapters to its structure. Cliff Perkins had examples of the structure of several national organizations and took the lead. Over the next several weeks we met, discussed, argued, compromised and finally came up with a workable structure, and the current organization would become the first chapter, the Los Angeles Chapter. Because we had been wise enough to involve a lot of members in the running of the association, we already had able people ready to assume the leadership of the LA Chapter while a national board was elected to pursue expansion. I was elected national president and Bud became the executive vice president.

We had much interest in moving quickly, and the pace was fast and furious. In June 1973 we had our first national conference. By then, we had become a national organization. We had two chapters: Los Angeles, California, and Chicago, Illinois. New chapters were queuing: Cincinnati, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and others.

We issued our first publication, The EDP Auditor in the second quarter of 1973, just before our first national conference. In it, I included a message from the national president, whose words form an appropriate way to close this history. As I listed the ways we had met our original objectives (forming a national association, creating chapters, issuing a magazine), I noted, “We are a young association. We will grow and improve with age.” ISACA’s incredible success and stature have certainly proven me right.

Eugene M. Frank
Former ISACA president

Read the first post in this 3-part series here.

Read the second post in this 3-part series here.


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