Committee Plan

(Open the PDF Document)

October 25, 2005
Revised January 1, 2009


Attendees at NSGIC's June 20-22, 2005, Management Retreat identified several deficiencies in the structure, composition, and activities of its committees, work groups and liaisons. A work group was established to recommend changes to enhance the functionality of these groups and individuals. This Restructuring Plan is the result of the work group's deliberations. By improving the committee structure, NSGIC's leadership hopes to encourage all state representatives to serve on one of its standing committees.

  • Streamline the existing committee structure to a manageable size.
  • Provide guidance to chairs and liaisons regarding expectations and responsibilities.
  • Engage the membership to participate in committee activities.
  • Communicate committee, work group and liaison efforts more effectively.
  • Establish an annual review structure for all committees and work groups.
  • Establish appropriate organizational elements to facilitate efficient workflow.

“Everything NSGIC does needs to be tied to goal statements; how we interact with other associations or prioritize opportunities needs to be tied to these issues.1” Committees and work groups must be engaged in furtherance of NSGIC's goals. These goals are restated below:

  • NSGIC will support effective statewide coordination activities to build the NSDI through development of well defined Statewide Spatial Data infrastructures (SSDIs)
  • NSGIC will form alliances to achieve issues-based objectives related to ongoing development of SSDIs to enable the NSDI
  • NSGIC will be accountable to its membership
  • NSGIC will advocate for the effective national policies and funding required to advance the NSDI by building comprehensive SSDIs
  • NSGIC will attain adequate resources to achieve its mission Committees, Work Groups and Liaisons

The term “committee” has been applied to several different NSGIC activities. These different activities should more appropriately be organized as committees, work groups, and/or liaison functions.

Committees are defined by their mission and objectives. They have a broad focus with several objectives and milestones, and their duration should be one year or longer. The committee's effectiveness in completing its mission and objectives should be annually reviewed by the Board. Committees can be established by the President with approval of the Board.

Work groups have a more narrow focus. They have clear objectives and a shorter timeframe for accomplishing their objectives. Whereas committees are designed to focus on defined activities of NSGIC, work groups are formed to address a specific task that has a limited duration. The duration of work groups is typically less than one year. Work Groups have clearly defined deliverables and outcomes. They can be created by the President and/or the Board as necessary.

Liaisons provide formal representation to outside organizations and should enhance bidirectional communications between the leadership of both organizations. Their efforts are intended to further the goals of NSGIC. Liaisons must be appointed by the President with Board approval. If more than one liaison exists for an organization, one liaison will be designated as the lead for NSGIC. The Outreach Committee is responsible for managing all of the liaisons representing NSGIC. Liaison activities will be summarized and reported to the Outreach Committee which will report to the NSGIC Board regarding significant Liaison activities.

Procedures for Establishing a Committee, Work Group or Liaison

To create a committee, work group or liaison position, any NSGIC member can identify a clear need and articulate proposed objectives to the President who will pass this information to the Board. Once the President and the Board have expressed an interest in proceeding, the member or another interested party will be asked to draft a charter. The charter shall address the following issues:

  • Demonstrate how the proposed activity relates to NSGIC's goals
  • Determine the mission, objectives, necessary actions, and desired outcomes or result (goals)
  • Determine the expected duration of the activity
  • Determine if this is a committee, work group, or liaison activity.
  • Nominate a chair or liaison for this activity
  • Develop an action or work plan, including suggested meeting schedules and reporting requirements
  • Determine and quantify if there are budget requirements (e.g. conference calls or exchanging conference registrations)
  • Identify authority and reporting hierarchy/structure
  • Determine if there are membership restrictions
  • Determine roles and responsibilities for members

After completing the charter, it shall be submitted to the President for Board approval. Use the charter template provided in Appendix A.

Annual Review

A formal yearly review of committee, work group or liaison activities will be conducted during the opening Board meeting at the Annual conference. All committee and work group chairs, or liaisons, will be required to submit concise one page written summaries detailing their accomplishments over the past year. This summary should include a recommendation from the committee or work group chair, or liaison, on continuing or retiring the committee, work group, or liaison activity. The Board will review and provide guidance on continuance. This reporting aspect shall be coordinated through NSGIC's Management Office.

Committee and Work Group Requirements

One significant challenge for any committee or work group chair is engaging members in volunteer efforts. A chair that does the “lion's share” of the work in a vacuum will not accomplish this, and they may actually alienate members. Communication is the key to accomplishing collaboration through volunteer efforts. Therefore, the following requirements are established for committee and work group chairs:

1. The standard charter process will be used so that members can quickly ascertain the mission and objectives.
2. If changes to the charter are required due to changing requirements, modify the charter and develop new short and long term objectives with definable outcomes and/or deliverables. Forward this information to the Board for approval.
3. Submit to the NSGIC Management Company the following information for posting to the committee's web page.
a. As required, develop, maintain, update, and distribute a roster with contact information for members.
b. Set routine meeting schedules and dates so members can adjust their schedules to ensure participation.
c. Develop agendas at least one week ahead of the meeting so members can prepare for the discussions. This will allows members who cannot attend the meeting to provide advance input on the issues to be discussed.
d. Follow the recommended standard format for minutes (see Appendix B), so that the minutes from all committees and work groups will have a similar look that facilitates a quick review of information. Identify a secretary or recorder who is responsible for taking the minutes.
e. The secretary or recorder shall distribute minutes and notes of meetings to the Committee or Work Group members in a timely fashion to provide awareness of what happened and to stimulate members that were unable to attend the meeting to participate and add their comments.
4. Submit publications and milestone reports of periodic achievements to the Communications Committee for review and approval prior to distribution to the membership. The Communications Committee or the NSGIC Board shall determine the appropriate content for listserve or e-newsletter announcements regarding committee or work group activities.
5. Prepare an annual summary that details accomplishments (see Appendix C). Submit the annual summary to the Communications Committee at least two weeks prior to the Annual Conference.

Following the above procedures will allow volunteers (and others) to follow activities from a distance as work schedules ebb and flow, but still stay engaged in NSGIC business.

Every committee and work group should revisit their activities to submit a standard charter as described, begin taking minutes in the prescribed manner, and prepare to submit an Annual Report beginning with the 2006 Annual Conference. This will allow members to review each committee or work group to have a better understanding of what level of participation is required and if there is an interest in the activities of a particular committee or work group.

Committee and work group charters should be updated annually (if required) and forwarded to the Board for approval at its opening meeting during the Annual Conference.

Recommended Retention of NSGIC Committees and Work Groups NSGIC should retire existing committees and work groups that are not integral to the organization or actively working on issues in accordance with the procedures outlined in this document. The committees with recommended permanent standing are:

  • Conference Committee (includes an Awards and Conference Grants)
  • Communications Committee
  • Elections Committee
  • Geospatial Preparedness
  • Outreach Committee (includes coordination of all Liaisons)
  • Sponsorship Committee
  • Membership Committee
  • Financial Committee
  • Technical Issues Committee

Consideration should be given to assigning all State Coordinators to one of these nine Committees each year. Each State Coordinator would identify a “home” committee and ideally would rotate through all committees over time. The Conference, Elections, and Outreach Committees may find it difficult to deal with this type of annual transition and this approach should be discussed in further detail. This “migration” through NSGIC core committees could be a great source of “new blood” and potential leadership for the organization. It will also immerse the coordinators into the business of NSGIC. The Communications and Sponsorship Committees could benefit greatly from this approach.

In most cases, other existing committees should be reduced to liaisons or work groups with clearly defined assignments.

Creating an Oversight Committee to manage other committees and work groups is an option that has been discussed, but is probably not necessary. If these guidelines are applied and enforced, the Oversight Committee is really the President and Board, and they would adjust the committees annually by granting continuance, discontinuance, or by replacing chairs. It is establishing and following this process that is critical.

The Communications Committee with assistance from the Management Company should assume responsibility for coordinating completion of the committee and work group charters for submission to the Board at the Annual Conference.

The recommended approach to managing committee activities does not necessarily reduce or streamline our activities, but it should help professional conduct and keep the committees, work groups and liaisons focused on NSGIC's goals and objectives. This approach may actually increase the number of work groups but they should be of short duration with defined deliverables.


NSGIC will always have a significant number of liaisons due to the diverse interests of our membership as well as the far reaching impact of spatial technologies. Liaisons currently fall into three categories.

1) Association/Organization Membership (Informal),
2) Federal Agency Partner, and
3) NSGIC Representation to Association/Organization (Formal).

NSGIC liaison activities should be viewed as investments. They will lay the foundation for current and future collaboration on topics of importance to our membership. Liaisons should report all relevant news that has a potential impact on NSGIC. The reports can be simple, but they should identify annual conferences, regional meetings, relevant news articles, legislative initiatives, and strategic initiatives (suggested reporting requirements are identified at the end of this section). This information shall be reported to the Outreach Committee to assist NSGIC in creating a profile for each organization. This will help NSGIC determine existing and future collaborative opportunities and allow us to build coalitions on specific national and legislative issues. NSGIC must also exchange similar information to the liaised associations and federal agencies to provide opportunities for bidirectional communication and to demonstrate NSGIC's support for the designated liaison. It is important to note that Liaisons should present a balanced representation of the views of all NSGIC members to external groups or organizations. The Liaisons specific point of view does not translate or substitute for that of NSGIC.

Informal liaisons are currently established through NSGIC members with an expressed interest, and membership in these organizations. Where several NSGIC members are listed as liaisons, association members should determine which NSGIC member will serve as the designated liaison. Once identified, these should be submitted to the Outreach Committee and passed to the NSGIC
Board for final approval.

Federal Agency Partnership liaisons are currently based upon familiarity and working relationships with these federal agencies. This allows NSGIC to gain valuable insights on how to work with these federal agencies as well as develop contacts throughout these federal agencies. These relationships should continue to be cultivated and leveraged for the benefit of NSGIC. Federal agency liaisons should be confirmed and reaffirmed by the NSGIC Board annually.

For associations and organizations where formal representation has been requested and the NSGIC Board has determined formal representation is required (such as the GIS Certification Institute) the NSGIC liaison will provide timely updates on issues of relevance to NSGIC. A firm understanding of roles and responsibilities must be articulated and understood with any formal NSGIC representation and will require the NSGIC President and Board approval.

As previously identified, Liaisons will be required to report through the Outreach Committee which will be responsible for their “management.” The Outreach Committee will then report all appropriate information to the Board. Liaisons will be required to report annually on the following information:

  • Leadership contacts (Federal liaisons will include a contact list for federal agency representatives)
  • Events (Annual conferences, regional meetings, teleconferences)
  • Summary of Activities (potential collaborative opportunities, legislative and strategic initiatives, suggested/recommended future interaction)
  • Relevant reports, documents, news articles, etc.

Appendix A
Charter Template

Authority – Reporting Hierarchy
Goal Alignment2:
Work Group Mission:
Work Group Objectives:
Membership Roles (identify chair and any other designated role):
Membership Responsibilities:
Membership Roster:
Meeting Schedule:
Required Reports:

Sample Charter for Guidance

Using the group that created this guidance document as an example, the following charter would have been drafted prior to commencing any activity.

Name: Committee Review Work Group
Duration: 2 to 3 months.
Authority: This Work Group reports to the President and the Board.
Goal Alignment: This committee positions and facilitates Goals 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Work Group Mission: Review existing structure and provide recommendations on how to Increase the effectiveness of NSGIC through its volunteers that are engaged in committee work. If there is a consistent structure to knowledge and activities; structure now leads to better institutional memory in the future
Work Group Objectives:
  • Define the responsibilities and requirements for a committee or work group chair
  • Define committee, work group, and liaison roles and responsibilities for the NSGIC Board.
  • Create a straw man document on reformulating committee structure and articulate how committees should function;
  • Provide steps to engage membership in volunteer work on committees
Membership Roles (identify chair and any other designated role):
Tony Spicci, Chair
Stu Davis
Gene Trobia
Bill Burgess
Membership Responsibilities: Members will review, refine and validate work products adequately and in a timely fashion. Members will represent the needs of their organizations, the states and NSGIC. Members will provide subject matter expertise on behalf of their organization either directly or indirectly as appropriate.
Membership Roster: The chair will be responsible for updating the roster of participants as needed. Membership in this Workgroup is restricted to representatives of the Board of Directors and the President of NSGIC.
Meeting Schedule: Meet every two weeks until restructuring report is complete.
Required Reports: Monthly reports to the NSGIC Board of Directors and produce a final Committee Restructuring Report.

The charter should be submitted to the President for approval by the NSGIC Board. Depending on the severity of need and/or timeliness requirements, the President can authorize creation of a committee, work group, or liaison prior to a Board meeting by circulating the draft charter to the Board members with a notice of his intent to approve the committee, work group, or liaison.

Appendix B
Template for Minutes

Committee/Work Group Name:
Date of Meeting:
Identify if this is an in-person meeting or conference call:
Members: (Identify all members)
Attendees: (Identify those members actively participating in the meeting)
Meeting agenda items:
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes: (After approval, they will be posted to the web page)
Discussion Notes: (Follow the agenda order by proper headings)
New Business Items:
Restatement of Action Items from Meeting (for next meeting):
Next Meeting Date and Information:

Appendix C
Annual Summary of Committee, Work Group or Liaison Activity

Committee, work group or liaison name:
Current list of members:
Meeting dates for the past year:
Significant products or accomplishments completed during the past year:
What are the committee or work group's plans for the coming year?
What Assistance is required from the Board?
Should this committee, work group or liaison activity be continued? (Please provide justification)

NOTE: The activity period for these reports is from Annual Conference to Annual Conference.