Study Committee Appointment

Study Scope

The LWVUS Board will adopt a detailed Study Scope based on the action and intent of Convention to adopt the new or update study. The Board should choose at the beginning of a study between a consensus or concurrence process for the study, unless otherwise determined by the Convention delegates and depending on how simply the issues of the study may be presented to members. The Board should then also adopt a study Timeline (see Addendum) and criteria for what is considered consensus or concurrence for this particular study.

Consensus is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity; rather it is the overall sense of the group and a judgment about whether member understanding and agreement have been achieved. Determining whether consensus has been achieved and how it should be expressed is the responsibility of the Board. In order to assure that the position statement reflects a broad consensus, the LWVUS will take into consideration the number of Leagues participating, their geographic representation, and the unique demographic data of those Leagues that participate.

Study Committee Chair Appointment

The LWVUS President shall usually appoint a Board member as Chair of the study committee. Co-Chairs could also be appointed with at least one being a Board member.

Study Committee Appointment

The Study Chair will announce, using the Leaders' Update and other means, the study scope and invite members to apply for the study committee.

Members who volunteer will be asked to complete a questionnaire and submit a résumé, and names of three references, at least one of whom must be their local or state League President. Preference will be given to applicants who have actively participated on a local or state League study committee.

The Study Chair and, depending on the number of applicants, at least two other Board members from the Education Fund Committee of the Board will examine materials submitted by the study applicants, interview the study applicants and their references, select the Study Committee, and recommend their appointment as the Study Committee to the Board. To provide some continuity, whoever interviews an applicant should also interview the applicant's references.

The appointed Study Committee should be as neutral or as balanced as possible with members on all sides of the study issue. It should also include experts in the study subject and be as geographically balanced as conveniently possible.

Staff

The LWVUS Executive Director will assign a member of the LWVUS staff to assist the Study Committee.

Conduct Study and Prepare Documents

Meetings

The Study Committee will meet periodically via audio or video conference call or in-person as is cost effective to conduct the study, prepare and approve all study documents, and generally oversee all aspects of presentation of the study to state and local Leagues.

Study Scope and Timeline

The Study Committee may review the Board adopted Study Scope and Timeline and recommend changes to the Board.

Subcommittees

The Study Committee may divide itself into as many subcommittees as necessary to conduct the study and oversee its implementation.

State and Local League Study Committees

State and local League boards are encouraged to appoint local study committees to implement and conduct the study in their local area. In addition, such local committees could be asked to gather data for the national study committee, plan and conduct general meetings or forums related to the study, and prepare and conduct local consensus or concurrence meetings.

Study Documents and Distribution

The Study Committee will prepare or select various study materials to be distributed to state and local Leagues. Such study materials may include articles, pro and con statements, data, Internet references, multimedia files, etc. with the purpose of making a thorough and balanced presentation of all issues of the study and preparing League members for the consensus or concurrence process.

Leaders' Guide

The Study Committee will prepare a Leaders' Guide to help state and local Leagues conduct the study process in their communities. The guide may include an outline of the study, study scope, study timeline, advice for League boards, a guide for discussion leaders, tips for consensus or concurrence meetings, and the consensus or concurrence questions.

New Media

Together with study documents and the Leaders' Guide, the Study Committee may also prepare or select other media such as PowerPoint presentations, videos, webinars, etc. that may also aid in the presentation of the study ideas and issues. An email discussion list, forum, or Facebook group should also be setup to support members involved with the study and provide a forum for exchanging ideas. All materials should be readily available on the LWV.org website.

Consensus or Concurrence

Consensus Questions

If the Board has ordered a consensus process, then the Study Committee will propose consensus questions to the Education Fund Committee of the Board with adequate time for the Board to consider and adopt them. The writing of the Consensus Questions is a critical task in the study process, so the Study Committee may want to allow time for some negotiation or for the Board to consider the questions more than once.

Consensus questions should be written in such a way as to directly ask members and Leagues about all-important issues in the study, so that the answers may directly lead to a statement of position. The questions should certainly allow for discussion during Consensus Meetings, but ambiguity should be avoided. Each consensus question must be framed so that it is neutral and not intended to lead to a conclusion. Each consensus question should be limited to one topic or idea to ensure that no confusion exists as to the intent of the answer. Each consensus question should allow for both discrete answers that can be easily tallied and written answers where Leagues may explain their answers, the degree to which consensus was reached, or any difficulties that they encountered in their consensus meetings.

Consensus questions are similar to opinion surveys, so the Study Committee might well consult with volunteer opinion polling experts about the effectiveness of the questions. The Consensus questions should also be tested with small focus groups of members who are not members of the Study Committee. It’s important to plan time for this into the original schedule.

Concurrence Statement

If the Board has ordered a concurrence process, then the Study Committee will propose a concurrence statement through the Education Fund Committee to the Board. A concurrence statement is a proposed statement of position, based on the study materials, on which Leagues or members may only agree or disagree. Because the wording may be adopted as a final position statement, the Study Committee should consider all the guidelines below for writing a statement of position. The proposed concurrence statement should then be submitted to the Education Fund Committee of the Board, the same as for consensus questions above. (This is not the same as a concurrence statement adopted by Convention, which must be based on an existing study and position of another League.)

Consensus or Concurrence Meetings

All Leagues are encouraged to participate in the study, to form a local study committee, to hold general meetings for members and the public about the study, to hold consensus or concurrence meetings for members, and to finally report the results. See the definition of consensus in the first section of this guideline.

Consensus or Concurrence Meeting Reports

The Study Committee and LWVUS staff will prepare an electronic survey form for Leagues to enter their consensus or concurrence meeting reports. The Board or the Study Committee will also set a deadline for meeting reports. No paper reports will be accepted.

Member Agreement and Position Adoption

Determination of Consensus

If a consensus process was used for the study, then the Study Committee, based on consensus meeting reports and the consensus criteria adopted by the Board, will decide if consensus has been reached, and if so, will write a draft position statement and propose it to the Education Fund Committee. Alternatively, the Board may appoint a Member Agreement Committee to perform this function, if the Education Fund Committee deems it necessary. Such committee may be composed of Board members and/or study committee members.

Guidelines for Writing Position Statements

Many League positions are retained for decades, so they should be worded generally and flexibly so that they can be used in a variety of advocacy situations. Specific details, such as references to legislation or technology, should be avoided, since they could limit League advocacy in unknown future situations. See also "Formulating League Positions" in League Basics.

Position Adoption by the LWVUS Board

After receiving the recommendations of the Study Committee or the Member Agreement Committee, the Education Fund Committee of the Board and then the full Board will consider, re-write as necessary, adopt, and publish the new or updated League position. Because this is a critical task, the Study and Member Agreement committees should allow enough time for some negotiation or for the Board to consider the new or updated position more than once. Publication will include a notice in the Leaders' Update newsletter and inclusion in the next edition of Impact on Issues. It may also include a press release to the public.

Addendum

Generic Study Timeline

Time Required

Action

1 month

Board approves initial study scope, timeline and consensus or concurrence criteria.

1 month

Study chair invites study committee applications.

1 month

Education Fund Committee interviews applicants and references.

1 week

Education Fund Committee proposes and receives approval of full Board for study committee appointments (via electronic meeting).

1 month

Study committee begins meeting, reviews study scope and timeline, and may recommend changes to Board.

Several months

Study committee prepares or selects study materials, a Leader's Guide, etc. and posts on website. A study forum or discussion list is opened.

Several months

State and local Leagues may form study committees, examine study materials, hold public meetings, etc.

1 or 2 months

Study committee proposes consensus or concurrence questions to the Education Fund Committee, which may discuss them with the study committee, and then may edit them and propose them for adoption by the Board.

A few months

State and local Leagues hold consensus or concurrence meetings.

A firm date certain

Deadline for consensus or concurrence reports via electronic survey form only.

1 month

The Committee decides if consensus or concurrence was reached, and if so, proposes a new position statement to the Education Fund Committee, which then proposes it to the full Board for adoption.

1 week

Consensus or concurrence result or new position statement is announced before Convention.

 

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