Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reimagine GC: Making Legislative Committees More Effective

Should Standing Commissions and Legislative Committees share the same membership?

There is certainly overlap in some cases, and more than one legislative committee found it helpful to refer back to the members of the related standing commission, either also serving on the legislative committee or sitting in the gallery, to ask clarifying questions about the background of A resolutions found in the Blue Book reports filed by standing commissions.

Should there be some percentage overlap, say, 50%? The advantage of a high percentage overlap is that continuity and knowledge of the prior conversations on the subject are retained. There is always a need for some new membership to allow for new debate and challenges to any group-think that might exist.

A percentage overlap target would probably be difficult to achieve, because membership on legislative committees is limited to deputies and bishops, but membership on standing commissions is open to all adult church members, who may or may not be elected as deputies for the next GC. Since membership in both types of groups is by appointment of the presiding officers, should they be requested to consider the benefits of some overlap as they are making their appointments? 

Orientation and Tools for Legislative Committees

Let’s make use of technology and volunteers to conduct orientation and provide tools for legislative committees. PowerPoint, flow charts, and decision trees are training tools to help legislative committee members get up to speed on how to conduct their business. The church has deputies with extensive training expertise, many in high risk industries with large, dispersed staffs, who know effective ways to deliver information that will assist committee members to learn their work and ensure more procedural consistency.

As we move towards GC 2015, now is the time to think ahead to providing online, interactive training in advance of arriving at the GC site. A handout with flow charts and decision trees for different scenarios on how legislation flows from house to house, committee to committee, and committee to floor of each house, would be helpful to legislative committee members and would facilitate their choices on how to advance specific resolutions.

Use of flash drives was somewhat helpful in GC 2012. However, it is highly desirable to move towards a WiFi enabled GC that would support online transmittal of resolutions among all parties involved. The use of multiple NCR paper forms with secretaries writing out resolution amendments and substitutions in longhand is archaic, inefficient, and frustrating to legislative committees and contributes to time delays as individuals trekked between hotel committee rooms and convention center secretariats.

Also, requiring multiple signatures on forms only makes sense if someone at the receiving end of the forms is verifying signatures against some master signature document prior to acting on the substance of the form. If this isn’t being done, why are we requiring signatures? Surely, we ought to commission our legislative committee officers so that they are vowing to behave in an above-board fashion in all committee matters. We are the church, after all.

For those legislative committees that absolutely must deal in paper during their meetings, provide them with a cheap ($30 HP Deskjet 1000 Printer - J110a) inkjet printer that prints up to 16 pages per minute in black, draft format, a ream or two of recycled paper, and a 30-foot extension cord. The time delay and wear and tear of sending aides out for copies can be avoided. And to save shipping costs, donate the printers at the close of GC to a local non-profit.

No comments: