ACS Board Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations

ACS Policy Statement Development & Approval

Authority to review and approve policy statements is specifically delegated to the Board Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations (Bylaw XII and Board Regulation III, 9). ACS policy statements can include letters, testimony, white papers, and endorsements of statements by other groups, or other new or revised written ACS views or recommendations on public policy matters to policymakers, the public, or other audiences.

How Are Statements Developed?

  • Proposed statements traditionally respond to requests from policymakers, ACS members, or ACS governance. While ACS committees normally take the lead in developing statements, a statement also may be drafted by staff, members, divisions, local sections, or other ACS units. The lead individual or unit is encouraged to seek input from other appropriate units prior to submission to PA&PR.
  • While PA&PR is charged with final review authority, the bylaws envision the bulk of the development work and outreach to other ACS units will be done by the units drafting the statements. Expedited consideration of statements by PA&PR is allowed when insufficient time is available for such outreach.
  • A statement is considered if it is determined to be of “national import.” It is possible that a proposed statement, possibly from a local section or division, will not meet that test and for the requesting unit to issue the statement directly with a disclaimer that it is not the official position of ACS (Bylaw XII).
  • Often a proposed letter or other statement is determined to be derived from or related to an existing ACS policy statement. When uncertainty exists about the extent of “new” ACS policy, staff consults the chair of PA&PR (and the ACS President and chair of the Board if appropriate) before moving forward.

What is the Approval Process?

  • Statements are submitted to PA&PR for consideration and action under a delegation of authority from the Board. If the Chair of PA&PR determines that a statement is likely to engender public controversy or otherwise deals with a sensitive matter, she may seek Board ratification of the decision.
  • For each statement considered by PA&PR, staff analyzes the topic and conveys prior ACS actions and other pertinent information in a briefing paper that is sent to the Committee as background for the vote.
  • Approval by two thirds (at least six affirmative votes) of PA&PR is required to pass a statement. The majority of statements are considered between meetings by e-mail ballot, which facilitates timely policy communications. For these statements, reasonable efforts must be made to receive the votes of all PA&PR members. The other members of the Board also are made aware of the draft so they may express any concerns to staff or the chair of PA&PR.
  • Sometimes, six PA&PR members are not available to vote in a timely manner due to foreign travel or other conflicts. In this case, the Chair may receive the permission of the Board Executive Committee to pass a statement with only four votes as long as no more than one negative vote has been cast.
  • When reviewing statements between meetings, PA&PR members can offer edits ranging from grammatical points and other minor edits to substantive changes. The PA&PR chair and OLGA staff determine whether proposed changes are significant enough to consult all Committee members before final action. The Chair may also involve the ACS unit that developed the statement in this process.

Statement Renewal and Sunset

  • ACS policy statements are generally issued under the signature of the ACS President on behalf of the Society and distributed to relevant policymakers, media outlets, ACS members, and other organizations.
  • Statements remain in force for three years, unless repealed by the Board. A statement may be renewed by PA&PR for additional three-year periods. Statements often are superseded by other policy statements, such as annual budget statements, and become effectively inactive within their three-year life.