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Betsy
March 1st, 2005, 07:58 PM
Welcome to a discussion concerning changes in USMS Governance.
Major changes concerning the Officers and the Board of Directors were passed at the 2004 convention. Since then, the Governance Task Force (formed by the USMS Planning Committee) has been working on the definition of powers and responsibilities for the House of Delegates (HOD), Board of Directors (BOD), and Executive Committee (EC). A report and the documents can be found at: Governance Policies (http://www.usms.org/admin/policies/content/governance_policies).

I urge you to read all of the documents posted. When you read the policy statements, it is best to look at the HOD, then the BOD, and then the EC. After you have read the information on the website, the Task Force invites your comments and suggestions. We believe it will be beneficial to begin discussion prior to the convention in September. This discussion will be open for three weeks (March 1-21) and will be limited to discussion of the material about the Role of the HOD, the Role of the BOD, and the role of the EC. Additional proposals will be published and opened for discussion as they are completed.

Please keep your comments addressed to the Governance Task Force and please stay on topic. If you have questions or comments related to some other aspect of USMS, email me at Planning@USMS.org. Please do not post comments or questions on other topics.

Betsy Durrant, Planning Committee Chair

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 2nd, 2005, 11:24 AM
Truly, this stuff I love. USMS seems to be in a position to want to make great changes not only in the structure but in how it is perceived and expanded. How are these changes going to change the decision making process of the organization? It seems to me that no one group meets enough to really keep up with what is going on in the organization. When I read the admin. threads, there is a lot of work for volunteers.

JPSWMCCH
March 2nd, 2005, 11:41 AM
Hi Betsey, Rob, Committee: I have read through the material as you asked. I have some questions and comments specific to the proposed Legislation.
1. Under the USMS BOD, I wonder why "club development" is a responsibility given to the VP for Member Services? I think that it might be more appropriate under the VP for Local Operations. It probably depends on what people perceive as "club development."
2. On the EC material, in 507.1.3, "C" might say instead of "in an emergency" (has a taint maybe of a health emergency), "in the case of an exigency, or urgent crisis situation,"...(I know these words are somewhat redundant, but I think they are better suited to the idea explained.)
3. On the HOD material, in 506.5, do you need the first "held" in the second sentence, about the conference call meetings?
4. Why did you add "manner" of meetings to 504.2.4? How can the HOD decide that...in the previous convention, by mail, etc.?

Thanks for all the work you do...to everyone who has worked so very hard on this reorganization of USMS. It will be worth it! JP

Betsy
March 2nd, 2005, 01:52 PM
Craig and Jennifer,
I am so pleased that someone has read the materials and a discussion has begun.

I failed to mention the members of the committee that have worked on these proposals: Joan Alexander, Doug Church, Rob Copeland, Ralph Davis, Maria Doelger, Mike Heather, Lucy Johnson, Jim Miller, Debbie Morrin-Nordlund, Mark Murphy, and Nancy Ridout.

To be sure I don't garble responses, I am consulting with the committee on how best to reply. Therefore, there will be about a 24 hour delay in posting a specific response.

Betsy

Anthony Thompson
March 2nd, 2005, 05:07 PM
The roles and duties of the 8 at-large directors do not seem well defined. The previous structure the BOD represented the interests of the committees. Will these at-large directors have any responsibility back to the zones that nominated them similar to the current Zone Committee with communications, operations, etc ? or Will they just be acting on behalf of USMS as part of the collective BOD ?

The Governance Task Force has presented some great proposals to strengthen, grown, maintain, and educate our members on concepts in leaderships. THANKS for all your WORK !

Swimmer Bill
March 2nd, 2005, 09:55 PM
TREMENDOUS work!! I give this group, and its leader Betsy Durrant, a great big standing ovation!!

Betsy
March 3rd, 2005, 04:43 AM
Craig’s question was: “How are these changes going to change the decision making process of the organization?”

By reducing the number on the Board of Directors from 42 to 16, it is hoped that the decision-making process of the corporation will be streamlined, less cumbersome, and more timely. The BOD will meet face-to-face at least twice and is of a size conducive to conference call and electronic discussions. It is hoped that the BOD will play a much more significant role in the planning and direction USMS will pursue and, consequently, the Executive Committee will be able to spend its time managing the corporation.

Craig: “It seems to me that no one group meets enough to really keep up with what is going on in the organization. When I read the admin threads, there is a lot of work.”

A key element of the new structure is to align our committees and operations into divisions under the four vice presidents who will be responsible for leading and managing specific areas of our organization. This should enable the president, secretary, and treasurer to have more time for their specific duties.

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 3rd, 2005, 10:16 AM
Thanks for the response.

lynhzlwd
March 3rd, 2005, 10:46 AM
I think it should be pointed out that the new BOD contains more than 16 members. The BOD has 16 voting members. The non-voting members include the legal counsel, executive director, USA Swimming liaison, and all past presidents. As I understand it, the non-voting members will have voice but no vote.

For the sake of argument, let's say none of the current past presidents run for office this year. That means that the size of the BOD will be 25 members. Managing effective discussions and decision-making with 25 people will be very difficult.

Karen Duggan
March 3rd, 2005, 11:12 PM
I only read through Part 4 to start...

It struck me as odd that in Section 403.6.6 that it states,"... and the USMS President must concur" or something like that. Reading along it says board this and board that, and then throws in the two cents of the President. It just seemed out of the blue. I wondered why the President had to concur?

And just curious, although maybe I missed it, what is the cost of filing a grievance? I didn't see it.

Betsy
March 4th, 2005, 12:28 PM
Response to Jennifer Parks:
1. Under the USMS BOD, I wonder why "club development" is a responsibility given to the VP for Member Services? I think that it might be more appropriate under the VP for Local Operations. It probably depends on what people perceive as "club development."

Response: We did not include the job descriptions in code for this very reason – as the new system is implemented, responsibilities may change. Several committees and several tasks could have been placed in more than one slot. It was a judgment call and could very well change.

2. and 3. Suggestions for changes in the wording.

Response: I will bring these up during our next call. Getting exactly the right wording is a real art. As you know, all legislative proposals will go to the Legislation Committee prior to presentation to the HOD. I am sure improvements can and will be made.


4. Why did you add "manner" of meetings to 504.2.4? How can the HOD decide that...in the previous convention, by mail, etc.?

Response: We included “manner” to open the possibility of an electronic vote, if necessary. For instance, if an important topic was not completed during the convention and needed some more work. The HOD might authorize a final vote via email. At present, this is not allowed. Should it be? That’s why we are bringing up the possibility – to open discussion.

Betsy
March 4th, 2005, 12:30 PM
Response to Anthony’s question is from Rob Copeland (member of the Governance Task Force and Legislation Committee Chair):

Anthony, one of the problems of our previous structure was that the members of the board were on it because of each was a committee chair, officer or had other specific roles outside of the board. And membership on the board was a secondary or tertiary role. What we are striving for is a board that acts to govern and lead in the best interests of USMS without specific constituent obligations. It is our hope that the board will continue to represent the interests of all committees, volunteers, staff, members and the community at large in formulating policy and establishing the vision of USMS.

There will continue to be a zone committee and we will continue to have zone representatives who will a communications/operations conduit between the local organization and the national organization.

Betsy
March 4th, 2005, 12:32 PM
To Karen Duggan:
Since your question is slightly off topic (we are discussing the new proposals from the Governance Task Force), Rob Copeland has responded to you via email.

When you have had a chance to read through our new proposals, please let us know what you think.
Betsy

Karen Duggan
March 4th, 2005, 12:52 PM
My apologies. I thought that what you put up there was new, that's why it was up there. Rob was very helpful with his response.

Betsy
March 7th, 2005, 11:27 AM
I believe Lynn Hazlewood’s comment is referring to the inclusion of all past presidents as non-voting members of the BOD. The original proposal from the Task Force included the past presidents as ex officio members of the Board of Directors. When we made changes in the BOD at the 2004 Convention, we did not include the past presidents. Things were moving quickly to get legislation for this year’s elections, so we did not discuss the past presidents at that time. When the topic of the past presidents was brought up again during a Governance conference call, inclusion was approved.

We invite your comments.

Tom Lyndon
March 8th, 2005, 01:24 PM
Committees

USMS has many committees covering in a wide range of USMS activities. What they accomplish make an essential and major contribution to the operation of USMS. It seems to me that some committees are highly effective and some committees are less than that. I hope that this committee component of management and service delivery will be enhanced by the reorganization.

What group (EC, BOD, other) will select the members of each committee? Who will select the chairmen of each committee? How frequently and by what measures will committee performance and individual member performance on committees be evaluated and by whom?

Tom Lyndon

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 9th, 2005, 10:56 AM
Originally posted by Betsy
Response to Anthony’s question is from Rob Copeland (member of the Governance Task Force and Legislation Committee Chair):

Anthony, one of the problems of our previous structure was that the members of the board were on it because of each was a committee chair, officer or had other specific roles outside of the board. And membership on the board was a secondary or tertiary role. What we are striving for is a board that acts to govern and lead in the best interests of USMS without specific constituent obligations. It is our hope that the board will continue to represent the interests of all committees, volunteers, staff, members and the community at large in formulating policy and establishing the vision of USMS.

There will continue to be a zone committee and we will continue to have zone representatives who will a communications/operations conduit between the local organization and the national organization.

I've only worked in nonprofit organziations and how a board member can be on the board and not be assigned specific constituent obligations, I don't understand. Why then even have committees? Surely, your board members will necessarily sit on committees - these are constituent obligations! I wonder if you really mean to say special interests. In large national organizations, individual board members can't possibly be expected to know every detail of all issues.

Also, I've never heard of a board that doesn't in some way include past presidents. They especially can play an extremely important role in raising funds from members & other interested parties and not be bogged down unnecessarily with committee work.

Also, some of the most effective money-raising boards (despite what peole think, fund-raisingis one of the necessary chheif roles of a board) are rather large 25-30 people. I've had terrible experiences with relatively small boards (under 18) that are so small they can't allocate their time to any issue.

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 9th, 2005, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by Betsy
Craig’s question was: “How are these changes going to change the decision making process of the organization?”

By reducing the number on the Board of Directors from 42 to 16, it is hoped that the decision-making process of the corporation will be streamlined, less cumbersome, and more timely. The BOD will meet face-to-face at least twice and is of a size conducive to conference call and electronic discussions. It is hoped that the BOD will play a much more significant role in the planning and direction USMS will pursue and, consequently, the Executive Committee will be able to spend its time managing the corporation.

Craig: “It seems to me that no one group meets enough to really keep up with what is going on in the organization. When I read the admin threads, there is a lot of work.”

A key element of the new structure is to align our committees and operations into divisions under the four vice presidents who will be responsible for leading and managing specific areas of our organization. This should enable the president, secretary, and treasurer to have more time for their specific duties.

I just went back through and read all entries to this thread, the last paragraph outlines exactly why constituent interests are going to become one ofhte new organizing factors of the dod

Betsy
March 9th, 2005, 11:05 PM
Response to Tom Lyndon:
Tom,
At last year’s convention the HOD approved the four vice president positions. The description of the BOD Membership posted on the website lists committees to work with each vice president. The Task Force has not yet addressed 507.3 (how committee chairs and committee members are selected). Please feel free to share any suggestions with us. Send suggestions to me at Planning@usms.org and I will pass them on to the Task Force. When we have proposals concerning committees, a new forum will be started for discussion. For now, we want to concentrate on the new proposals. Do you have any comments on the Role and Responsibilities of the HOD, BOD, or EC?
Betsy

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 10th, 2005, 10:24 AM
has the task force drawn out a flow chart?

Betsy
March 10th, 2005, 11:18 AM
Craig,
Thanks for your comments. For the last few months we have concentrated on the flow of power within the corporation. It has been time consuming as we strive to be sure that we are clear and then to be sure that the code is clear on which body has the power and responsibility for various aspects of USMS. At this point, we want others to look at our posted documents to see if it is clear and to see if they agree with the role of each body (HOD, BOD, EC).
At present, we are beginning discussions within the task force on Membership in the HOD. We will post that for discussion when it is complete. After that, we will concentrate on the committees. Again, we will post our proposals for discussion.
Betsy

Rob Copeland
March 10th, 2005, 01:13 PM
Craig, did you mean org chart instead of flow chart?

Originally posted by craiglll@yahoo.com
has the task force drawn out a flow chart?

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 10th, 2005, 05:14 PM
I've always used them interchangeably.

That is a great fault I have. I insist others be exact with their language, then I take great liberities.

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 10th, 2005, 05:20 PM
Originally posted by Betsy
Craig,
Thanks for your comments. For the last few months we have concentrated on the flow of power within the corporation. It has been time consuming as we strive to be sure that we are clear and then to be sure that the code is clear on which body has the power and responsibility for various aspects of USMS. At this point, we want others to look at our posted documents to see if it is clear and to see if they agree with the role of each body (HOD, BOD, EC).
At present, we are beginning discussions within the task force on Membership in the HOD. We will post that for discussion when it is complete. After that, we will concentrate on the committees. Again, we will post our proposals for discussion.
Betsy

Generally without an organizational flow chart of some sort, I don't see how you can possibly know how "power" (a better way to put it might have been decision making) will flow with in the organization. USMS is a grass roots organization based on membership needs, the first paragraph quoted above doesn't sound that way. The posted documents do not have that tone to them though.

JPSWMCCH
March 11th, 2005, 10:04 AM
Rob, Betsy, Craig, Committee:

I, too, agree about the need for a new structure/organization flow chart. (It may help explain next September to the HOD how this might all work.) I spent a long time long ago studying organization development and it is still important, I think, that documenting what is perceived to be the "communication/power" flow, up and down, across and between positions and groups would be important.

That said, after the new structure is initiated, then documenting what the "real" power/communication flow is...which we won't really know until new organizational structure commences, would be a good idea. It may be prudent to put some kind of formal evaluation in place to analyze how the new structure is really working...perhaps after the first, then second year, for tweaking the system...then five years out for full-blown reevaluation.

Also, on the new structure which will now include elected zone members-at-large on the Board of Directors: might each of them also sit in as ex-officio members on two or three different committees to give input on those committees, to augment information from the VP who is responsible for specific committees? Just a thought...those VPs will be very busy so any extra help they can get might be appreciated. JP

Betsy
March 13th, 2005, 04:20 PM
Jennifer and Craig:
Rob Copeland has created a draft chart of USMS Organizational Structure. In our committee discussions, we have referred to it, but we have never finalized it. Taking your comments to heart, it is time for us to do that. As we discuss HOD Membership (our current topic) and Committees (our next topic), a lot of this will fall into place. When we finalize the chart, it will be posted.

My question to you and to other forum participants concerns our posted documents on the powers and responsibilities of the HOD, BOD, and EC. Have we done our job in making it clear how these three bodies interact?
Betsy

JPSWMCCH
March 16th, 2005, 10:17 AM
Betsy;

Rob sent me a copy of the organization/flow chart that I believe was outlined last September. It also included another chart with the committees, special responsibilities, etc. of the various officers so that made my perception much clearer of how the structure might work so far. Would you make them available on this website for perusal?

But I think your discussions on the HOD and its composition, responsibilities, and then the discussions on Committees (which seem to me to be intricately involved with the HOD, because the Committees are made up primarily of the HOD) may be crucial to the overall structure change. Many of the Committees seem to promulgate much of the nitty gritty ideas, plans and decisions (though the officers might disagree!) for USMS that trickle up/down and affect the greatest number of members, so I'll be very interested in your views on them. JP

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 16th, 2005, 11:53 AM
I've read some of the other pdf's listed. This seems to be a great reorganization. I truly hope that you intend to take a great amount of time for it to occur. I really don't see how this is being done without some type of permanent staff specifically assigned to keeping track of the changes.

For my opinion, committee heads do not sit on the ex. board or necessarily even on a board of directors (HOD). What role will the ex. board have in raising funds.

It seems that there is far too little fund-raising going on inthe organization as a whole. Everything seems to be very dependant on membership dues, fees from events and maybe a few donations. Past presidents generally have a great role in raising money. I would think that if fund-raising became a big issue, many events such as nationals woudl not be so dependent on entry fees and the locals could make a lot more money. Many memberships get bogged down with only increasing membership. That is where you start. There are members who work for some very generous corporations.

I woudl like to see the organziational flow chart also.

Rob Copeland
March 17th, 2005, 08:08 AM
Originally posted by Betsy
Jennifer and Craig:
Rob Copeland has created a draft chart of USMS Organizational Structure. In our committee discussions, we have referred to it, but we have never finalized it. Taking your comments to heart, it is time for us to do that. As we discuss HOD Membership (our current topic) and Committees (our next topic), a lot of this will fall into place. When we finalize the chart, it will be posted.

Betsy

It would be premature to broadly distribute the proposed org chart without first vetting it with the Governance Task Force. Based on Betsy’s comments above, it looks like she will soon be diving into this and in the near future the preliminary org chart will be published for general comment.

craiglll@yahoo.com
March 17th, 2005, 11:22 AM
Whenever I've worked on reorganizations,we always sat down with organizational charts and then worked on. Best workshop I've ever been to we had a big felt board and attached committees ot it as we worked. It was sucjh a learning experience. It is so interesting to see how different peole understand relationsips and organization.

Frosty
March 17th, 2005, 08:10 PM
All,

Thank you very much for allowing the membership and myself to make public comments on the work of the Governance Task Force. I appreciate the hard effort put into this project so far, and your willingness to consider comments.

I, too, applaud the Task Force for completing their extensive deliberations and composing the documents that make up this phase of the project. This is by no means a small undertaking, and it is a welcome sight to see.

I have reviewed the documents a few times and do not have any major concerns. It did take me, however, a few readings to understand the intent of the Task Force and the interrelationships and responsibilities laid out in the proposed reorganization. This was not easy to grasp upon an initial inspection.

I do share the concern expressed by others in this discussion regarding the establishment and integration of committees into the reorganized structure, and will reserve further comment until the Task Force promulgates a relevant proposal (with an organizational chart) for inspection and comment. I expect it to be a critical element in the reorganization.

Betsy did mention the possibility of reconvening the HOD for an e-mail vote, if necessary, to address an important item not completed at the convention. The only instances where this should occur would be to consider a reworked legislative or rule change, or perhaps a reworked Nationals bid. (It would apply to anything else that only the HOD has the power to do, such as approve the budget and elect officers, but the HOD is very good at completing these tasks at the convention.)

In this electronic age, an electronic HOD “meeting”/vote is certainly practical, but I would caution the HOD from doing it except in very limited circumstances. The important item to be completed would not be open to amendment or debate in an e-vote. Yet, more troubling is that I believe that the potential for an e-vote after the convention could entice the HOD to defer, rather than act upon, contentious or controversial proposals. Every convention has some hot-button item (e.g. this year, it was the new magazine contract) that might just get set aside if enough delegates are queasy enough about it to say “Why don’t you clean it up a little here and there and then we might bring it up for an e-vote?”.

One final thing that would be affected by HOD e-voting…although we have always had this provision in the code for the HOD to have special meetings, the membership of the HOD for these special meetings would probably need to be clarified or re-emphasized. To say “All members of the HOD shall remain until their successors are selected…” is vague. When does the “term” of an at-large delegate begin and end? Or the “term” of an LMSC delegate? What happens when the membership of the rules/legislation/long distance committees change? How about the outgoing officers after an election-year convention...are they now out of the HOD?

Thank you for your consideration.

JPSWMCCH
March 21st, 2005, 09:23 AM
Hi, again, all:

Someone in our LMSC mentioned the Past Presidents' roles/votes on the Board of Directors. I think it is important to receive input from these very experienced people and to formalize their roles (and except for the immediate past President, voice, but no vote, I believe). I strongly believe that the immediate past president should have a vote as is designated in your restructure. There was also some concern about the Legal Counsel having no vote; but I personally think the role of formal advisor/ex-officio is appropriate.

I have another concern. In your description of the duties of the VPs, I want to voice my view that "communications" should be a responsibility under the VP for Community Services, not VP for Member Services. Your rationale suggests that one VP takes care of "new members" and the other for "current members," respectively. The rationales could be broader instead and look "inside" the organization...and "outside" the organization. "Communications" is a large, crucial area (magazine, web) that reflects the organization to both inside and outside, but I think it fits better with marketing, etc. under the VP for CS. The VP for Member Services will have plenty on her/his plate with Competition, Fitness, etc.

I know, Betsy and Rob, that you have both mentioned the blurring or cross support of various areas, but I still think that "club development" belongs under the VP for Local Operations...and I know that you have already "shall work with clubs" as a responsibility for that VP. Just two more of my cents/sense/ideas. You asked for them!;-) JP

p.s. Will the various VPs appoint the Chairs of the various committees that come under their responsibilities, with the advice and consent of the committee itself (!) as well as the President??!!

Frosty
March 21st, 2005, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by Betsy
My question to you and to other forum participants concerns our posted documents on the powers and responsibilities of the HOD, BOD, and EC. Have we done our job in making it clear how these three bodies interact?
Betsy

Sorry, Betsy...almost forgot that we (the forum participants) owe you an answer.

With a little trepidation, I'll say that you made it clear. Again, it took me a few re-reads of the materials to understand the interaction.

I would recommend, though, that if you want to make it very clear, you concentrate on power/responsibility/interaction with respect to the BOD. Most of us in the forum understand the role our HOD has played through the years, as well as the EC. Many fewer people understand the concept of the BOD because it hasn't been a prominent element of our past governance. Now that it is going to be a significant part of the governance structure (right???), it needs to stand on its own, and it needs to be understood equally as well as the other two bodies.

From the cheap seats, the BOD simply looks like a super-sized EC that will only make the executive decisions 2-4 times a year...and then from month-to-month the real decisions will be made by the officers (without the zone reps) as it is now. The Task Force will need to explain how things will be different with this BOD concept.

Betsy
March 21st, 2005, 07:37 PM
Response to Jennifer:
The task force will be working on aligning committees with the 4 vice presidents. I will note your suggestions. When finalized, we will publish our proposals and open this forum for discussion again. Send any further suggestions to me at Planning@usms.org.

Your idea about appointing committee chairs is very interesting. At present, the president appoints the chairs (with advice from the Ex Com). Then the president works with the chair in selecting members of the committee. Our next task is discussing section 507.3 in regard to appointments. I am sure the vice president will be involved in selecting the chair of committees they will work with. Your suggestion is definitely new – selecting the committee and then the chair! The form delegates fill out at the convention to request a committee used to have a place to recommend someone for chair. I don’t know if it still does or not, but I will find out.

Betsy
March 21st, 2005, 07:43 PM
Frosty:
Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. You make a good point that we need to be sure everyone understands the increased role of the BOD.
Betsy

To everyone who has been following this forum:
Today is the last day for this forum. I will close it tomorrow. We will reopen the forum when we have the next set of proposals ready. The committee and I really appreciate the participation of all who have posted.

Meanwhile...Please send any further suggestions or comments to me at Planning @usms.org and I will bring them to the attention of the task force.