Options to Update Unit BYLAWS

C&B recently streamlined its options for Divisions, Local Sections, and International Chapters to update their bylaws. There are 3 options to update your bylaws: 1) respond to the questions document (expanded from the expedited bylaws questions), which gives default options; 2) use the MODEL BYLAWS, which includes all default options, which you may amend as noted; or 3) use the bylaws Template, which gives all options so it might be overwhelming. We think you will find that #2 is the easiest. Below are links to the documents for the bylaws options, brief summaries of the various options, and NEXT STEPS. For any documents that are not yet available, please contact C&B at bylaws@acs.org if you would like us to email any document(s) to you.

The MODEL BYLAWS and bylaws template include language that permits your unit to do electronic balloting and that is legal and consistent with the ACS Governing Documents (Bulletin 5): www.acs.org/bulletin5. We suggest that you appoint one person to work with C&B in updating your bylaws.

Documents for the 3 bylaws options

SUMMARY of options    

    1. Respond to the questions document

This used to be the expedited bylaws questions option, except that we expanded the options.  We realize that some people would prefer to respond to a questions document instead of making changes directly on the Template. Either way, the end result is the same. This option is now available for any Division or Local Section that is incorporated.  The Executive Committee must agree on the responses, after which only the Chair or Secretary would submit the questions document to bylaws@acs.org. C&B will prepare bylaws, based on your responses to the questions document, and send it back to your officers within 3 weeks, if possible. See next steps below.


We think that this is the easiest option. This used to be the expedited bylaws except that you now have options to amend any optional text (in blue font) provided that the options are given either on the questions document or on the bylaws template. If you would like to make any other changes, contact C&B at bylaws@acs.org for a quick review. If the changes are extensive, we might have to assign your proposed changes to a C&B subcommittee for review.

    3. BYLAWS Template

We think that this is the most challenging option, which is for those who would like to mark their changes directly on the Template. Note C&B's comments in the introductory paragraph and throughout the Template. In the Template, text in black font is required and consistent with the ACS Governing Documents (www.acs.org/bulletin5). You may amend any text in blue font and add bylaw provisions from your current bylaws, as necessary; we will let you know whether or not any text that you might add is consistent with the ACS Governing Documents. After the Executive Committee agrees to the proposed changes that will suit your Chapter's, Division’s, or Section’s needs, please rename the Template with your Chapter, Division, or Section name and send this document to bylaws@acs.org for a quick C&B by C&B (within 3 weeks if possible).

For the MODEL BYLAWS and bylaws Template options, if you make only minor changes, C&B will contact you with questions or comments, if necessary, or let you know that your proposed bylaws are ready for vote by your members, to be conducted in accordance with your current bylaws. If C&B determines that the changes are extensive and need to be reviewed by a C&B Subcommittee, we will contact you within 3 weeks to let you know about timing (see below). See next steps below.


After the Chapter, Division, or Section selects the option to update its bylaws and submits either the questions document, the model bylaws, or your proposed changes on the template, C&B will then prepare or approve the bylaws for vote by your members, or let you know if C&B has to conduct an in-depth review. If you follow the MODEL BYLAWS, you might not need to send the bylaws to C&B for review, but we're happy to review these bylaws if you wish. FOR ALL OPTIONS: your members must VOTE on the proposed bylaw changes in accordance with your CURRENT bylaws. Within 18 months from the date that C&B prepares or approves your proposed bylaws for vote by your members, either the Chair or the Secretary would then send the vote results and other required information to C&B. C&B will then complete the certification process and issue newly certified bylaws on behalf of Council.


The entire process can take as little as a few months or up to a year or more, depending mostly on how long it takes you to make changes, for your members to vote, and for the results and other required information to be sent back to C&B, which completes the certification process if everything is in order. C&B is ready to review bylaw proposals before they are voted on by members, so that you can avoid having your members vote again on proposed bylaw changes, which must be in accord with the ACS Governing Documents. If C&B has to do a more in-depth review, that review might take two to three months.

Contact C&B

If you have any questions, comments, or if you would like the current version of your unit's bylaws, contact us:

  • bylaws@acs.org for C&B's Staff Liaison, Barbara Polansky
  • 202-872-4071 or 800-227-5558, ext. 4071