Guide for Committee Chairmen
The powers and responsibilities of the chairman of a CA Committee are defined in two documents, which are published in the governing documents section and available in print from the CA Office:
These documents are being revised but remain in force for the time being. They can be rather daunting to those not familiar with them, so this document attempts to guide you through them and, in some cases, put some flesh on the bones.
References to the Standing Orders and CA Practice Book are to the October 2019 editions, which were adopted on a temporary basis pending a fuller review in the light of the new Council's Strategy and Objectives. In some cases, the document describes what should, rather than actually does, happen: in particular, committees that do not meet physically tend to operate less formally than those which do.
Please let the Secretary know of any errors or omissions and ask for clarification if needed, if only to help your successors. Similarly, please suggest any changes you think should be made to the Standing Orders or CA Practice Book.
Overall Management and Reporting Structure
Clause 12 of the Constitution of the Association states that:
- There shall be a Council with overall responsibility for the affairs of the Association, with a focus on high-level policy, strategic initiatives, scrutiny and transparency.
- Day-to-day business (including the authority to execute financial transactions, implementation of policy, and recommendation of new, or changes to, policy) shall be delegated to an Executive Board, which in turn can delegate to its committees. The Council can over-rule the Executive Board and its committees by passing a motion with two-thirds or more of the votes cast in favour.
Clause 25 explicitly gives the Council and Executive Board power to appoint committees and delegate powers and duties to them.
The Executive Board has used this power in CAPB 7 (which defines the names and membership of the standing committees) and CAPB 8 (which defines their responsibilities). CAPB 7.2 divides them into Principal and Other committees: the distinction being that the Principal committees have one or more scheduled meetings each year, whereas the Others normally operate by e-mail or Skype as required.
CAPB 8.2 states that "Standing Committees are responsible to and present their reports to the Executive Board. They are empowered to act without reference back unless decisions they intend to take contradict established policy or involve projected expenditure in excess of agreed budgets, or may adversely affect the work of other committees. Each committee chairman is responsible for the performance of his committee."
Because the committee chairmen are not necessarily at Executive Board meetings (unless invited under CAPB 6.3.13), a member of the Executive Board is tasked, by CAPB 8.4, with liaising with them.
The Executive Board normally meets ten times a year (on the first THursday of the month via Zoom) and the Secretary to theBoard will request that written reports, using the template given in https://www.croquet.org.uk/?d=299 are sent to him for distribution, with a deadline of a fortnight before the meeting.
The Executive Board has appointed a Committee to meet on an ad-hoc basis to handle emergencies and confidential matters like staffing issues..
The chairmen of each committee are formally elected at the Executive Board meeting following the AGM, but in practice are nominated by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Council and Chairman of the Executive Board, in consultation with the current committee chairmen.
Committee chairmen propose the members of their committee, for ratification by the Executive Board, up to a default maximum of 12 (except for Coaching and Development Committees, which also have regional officers and, in the case of Coaching, representatives of the Academies). The CA Office and Secretary should be informed of any changes, so that the database (which feeds the committees page on the website, can be updated).
CAPB 7.15 specifies the quorum for physical meetings as half the number of members currently elected, appointed or co-opted to serve on it and CAPB 7.16 gives the conditions for teleconferences and decisions taken by the chairman after email discussion.
Procedure at committee meetings is set out in CAPB 10.1, but is generally less formal than for Council.
Committees are encouraged (CAPB 7.23) to appoint a Vice-Chairman, both to deputise and assist the Chairmen when required, and with a view to succession.
Committee chairmen can serve for a maximum of 4 years in succession. (CAPB 7.17).
Each committee (with the exception of the Executive Board) has a set of general responsibilities stated in CAPB 8.3, as well as specific responsibilities stated in CAPB 8.5-21. In addition, they can be tasked with other things by Council or the Executive Board (CAPB 8.1).
Among the general responsibilities is the preparation of lists of their objectives and plans (CAPB 8.3.5).
Communication and Record-Keeping
Committees are responsible for appointing a member of the committee to maintain their website presence and communicate with Individual Members and Member Clubs through that and The Croquet Gazette. Anything that may be regarded as sensitive or contentious should first be discussed with a member of the Executive Board. (CAPB 8.3.7).
There's a Zoom presentation on CA Website training for Committee Chairs that covers the main issues.
The Secretary and CA Manager should be informed of committee decisions expeditiously (CPB 8.3.6) and minutes and new or updated policy papers should be published on the website, normally within 4 weeks of the meeting (CAPB 8.3.2, 6.4). Committees that don't meet physically and hence don't keep minutes should record their decisions in their reports to the Executive Board (CAPB 7.16 and 8.3.2).
CAPB 8.3.7 requires a list of significant decisions taken during the past 12 months to be sent to the Secretary, for possible inclusion in the general list of significant decisions and its extract, which are available as a source of precedents.
A number of guides have been written regarding the use of the CA website. These include:
- A guide to Using the CA Website and How to Edit a Page. All pages have an 'owner' shown in the very bottom left of each page (in the case of this page, the Honorary Secretary), along with the year of the last significant update. The CA asks committees to review each page at least every 18 months. All members of your committee, when visiting a page that has not been so reviewed, will be asked to approve it as up-to-date, or mark it as needing a refresh, or to pass page responsibility to another committee.
- The Members' Documents workspace and a Help Guide to using it. Council members may view all documents, and committee members may view all documents produced for or by their committee. The workspace includes the ability to embargo documents, and therefore keep them private to a committee for a period of time. This may be used to upload a document, notify the committee by sending a link to the document and ask for comments. Minutes of meetings are fine examples - 'agreement by lack of dissent'.
- Committees may have a Committee Home Page. This is intended to be a working page that allows you to record, share and collaborate on items, as well as keeping links to key documents together for easy reference. The page will automatically maintain a list of all website pages owned by the committee. If your committee doesn't have such a page, please ask the Webmaster to create it.
Section 12 of the CAPB sets out the Budget and Expenditure Approval policy.
Principal Committees are asked by the Treasurer to submit their budget for the following calendar year, and forecasts for following years, each autumn (CAPB 8.3.1).
Committee members can claim travel expenses for attending meetings whether or not they are members of Council; these are separately budgeted. Other expenses should fall within agreed budgets.
Although the CA Office may be able to help with some of your committee's activities, its resources are limited and, except in a few specific instances, its Manager (CAPB 4) does not have a specific responsibility to do so. Please consult the Chairman of the Executive Board before making requests for significant assistance.
The CA's new procedures are specified in clause 8 of the Constitution.
Checklist for Incoming Chairmen
The following is offered as the first stab at a checklist of actions for someone taking over as chairman of a committee:
- Check that the website shows the membership of your committee and, for committees that meet physically, its meeting date(s) are as expected.
- Use it to email its members to introduce yourself and inform/remind them about meeting dates. (Members of Council should know that you have been elected to chair it, but co-opted members may not).
- Try and arrange a handover with your predecessor if you have not already done so.
- Prepare an agenda for the first meeting of your committee:
- Elect a Vice-Chairman
- Appoint a web/gazette communicator
- Decide objectives for the year and review the strategy document
- Review expenditure for the year just ending and agree a proposed budget for the following year, and forecasts for future ones, if the Treasurer sends you data and asks you for one.
- Decide metrics by which the state of the activities for which your committee is responsible can be judged. Dave Kibble wrote a brief paper discussing this and giving some possible examples.
- Consider whether you need to allocate specific tasks to members of the committee or co-opt any additional members to get what you want done.
- Consider whether any of your plans for the forthcoming season affect the Fixtures Calendar and, if so, tell the editor (Mark Suter in the CA Office) in good time. It goes to press before Christmas.