Proposed Bylaw Amendments for 2017
Attention AFSA Members,
The Governing Board is proposing three bylaw amendments to be voted on during the 2017 AFSA Elections. The proposed bylaw changes would:
- Make the Awards and Plaques Committee a permanent standing committee;
- Change the current residency requirement for serving on the AFSA Governing Board to a participation requirement; and,
- Require that active-duty members presenting themselves as candidates for AFSA president or vice president hold an active security clearance.
The changes would become effective immediately if approved by two-thirds of the valid votes received from members.
Explanation of Proposed Changes:
1. Proposal to Make the Awards and Plaques Committee a Permanent Standing Committee.
At its Aug. 3, 2016, meeting, the AFSA Governing Board voted to propose to membership during the election a bylaw amendment to establish the Awards and Plaques Committee as a permanent standing committee. The Governing Board recommends that members support the amendment of Article VI (Internal Organization), Section 1 of the AFSA bylaws by adding the following language:
“(e) Awards and Plaques Committee: The board shall appoint and determine the terms of the chair and members of the Awards and Plaques Committee who, under the overall guidance of the board, shall develop criteria and make recommendations for awards and honors.”
The Governing Board believes that AFSA should have a permanent Awards and Plaques Committee recognized in the bylaws as a standing committee. Under the current bylaws, the Awards and Plaques Committee is not a permanent standing committee. Rather, the Awards and Plaques Committee has operated as a “special committee” for more than 20 years. Under Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (which per the bylaws is the parliamentary authority of the association), the committee is established only for the duration of that elected board. The committee (along with AFSA staff) handles the annual AFSA Awards Ceremony and the AFSA Memorial Plaque, which are ongoing undertakings of the association. The AFSA awards and plaques program should be directed by a permanent standing committee, recognized as such in the bylaws. The AFSA awards and plaques process requires sustained research, vetting and analysis, all of which take place on a continuous timeline, with recurring and firm deadlines. AFSA awards play an important role in recognizing the role of the Foreign Service and honoring members of the Foreign Service community. Additional details on AFSA’s awards and honors can be found here: www.afsa.org/awards.
2. Proposal to Change the Current Residency Requirement for Serving on the AFSA Governing Board to a Participation Requirement.
At its Oct. 3, 2016, meeting, the Governing Board voted to propose to membership a bylaw amendment to change the residency requirement for serving on the AFSA board to a participation requirement. The Governing Board recommends that members support the amendment of Article V (The Governing Board) Section 8 of the AFSA bylaws by replacing the current language with the proposed language:
“Residency: Board members shall be resident in the Washington area within 60 days of taking office on July 15 or appointment to office thereafter, and shall remain resident in the Washington area throughout their term in office. Board members who cease to be resident in the Washington area during their term shall submit their resignations to the board.”
“Participation: Board members shall participate via in-person attendance at regularly scheduled meetings of the board within 60 days of taking office on July 15 or appointment to office thereafter, and throughout their term in office. Board members who are unable to participate via in-person attendance at regularly scheduled meetings of the board, e.g., because of transfer, shall submit their resignations. Board members may be removed from office by a majority vote of the board after four absences in any 12-month period from regularly scheduled meetings of the board.”
As originally written, the bylaws recognize that members of the Foreign Service serve on a worldwide basis, and require that Governing Board members reside in the Washington area. The unintended consequence of this phrasing favors Governing Board members who reside in the Washington area but do not necessarily participate regularly in board meetings. The Governing Board believes it is more important for board members to participate than to simply reside in the Washington area.
The intent of this change is to follow best practices for boards and prevent cases in which elected board members do not take up their obligation to serve, regardless of where they reside. This change ties participation to one of the most important activities of the board, the monthly board meeting required by the bylaws. At these meetings board members vote on what actions AFSA will take, and it is important for board members to be fully engaged and participating. There is no intention to use AFSA funds to pay for the travel of board members to attend board meetings from afar.
This bylaw change increases the pool of eligible candidates for serving on the governing board. In the case that a vacancy is created, the respective Section 6 of the bylaws mandates that the board fill the vacancy by appointment, so long as the vacancy is filled from the respective constituency. These appointments are a regular occurrence and most often happen when board members are transferred overseas.
3. Proposal to Require that Active-Duty Members Presenting Themselves as Candidates for AFSA President or Vice President Hold a Security Clearance.
At its Oct. 3, 2016, meeting, the Governing Board voted to propose to membership a bylaw amendment to add a security clearance requirement for an active-duty individual presenting themselves as a candidate for AFSA President or AFSA Vice-President. The Governing Board recommends that members support the amendment of Article VII (Elections) Section 1 of the AFSA bylaws by adding “active-duty members presenting themselves as candidates for president or constituency vice president must hold an active security clearance.”
The revised section would read as follows:
“Candidates: All regular members of the association in good standing are eligible to be candidates for the officer or representative positions on the board; active-duty members presenting themselves as candidates for president or constituency vice president must hold an active security clearance.”
The intent of this bylaw change is to strengthen AFSA by preventing a potential conflict of interest that could arise when an active-duty AFSA president or one of the constituency vice presidents–the main AFSA officers who negotiate with management–does not have a valid security clearance. The potential conflict of interest arises because the AFSA officer is reliant on management to approve his or her appeal to reinstate the security clearance. The proposed bylaw change applies only to active-duty members and only to the AFSA president and vice president positions. The requirement for a security clearance does not apply to active-duty members presenting themselves as candidates for other positions on the board.
The complete bylaw amendment procedure can be found in Article IX of the AFSA bylaws, which are available online at www.afsa.org/bylaws. The AFSA Committee on Elections is responsible for conducting the polling on amendments. The process of amending the AFSA bylaws requires notification to the AFSA membership, with a 45-day period for submission of statements in opposition.
Statements opposing the proposed bylaw amendments require signatures from no less than 10 AFSA members in good standing and must be received within 45 calendar days of publication of this article.
Statements or questions may be sent to: Chair, AFSA Committee on Elections, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC 20037, or by fax to (202) 338-6820, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.