Task Force on Organizational Effectiveness


What follows is the final report of the SAA Task Force on Organizational Effectivess, submitted to Council on January 6, 1997. The recommendations of this report are presented here for discussion among SAA membership. Council has not acted on these recommendations and will consider them again at its June 7-9, 1997 meeting.

Task Force Membership: Susan Davis; David DeLorenzo; Luciana Duranti, co-chair; Susan Fox; Margaret Hedstrom, co-chair; Anne Kenney; Waverly Lowell; William Maher







1. Specific Recommendations: Committees
2. Specific Recommendations: Boards
3. Specific Recommendations: Official Representatives
4. Specific Recommendations: Sections
5. Specific Recommendations: Roundtables
6. Specific Recommendations: Task Forces





Commentary on Changes to the Constitution and Bylaws,
Proposed Constitution
Proposed Bylaws

Committees and Boards
Official Representatives

Task Forces
Official Representatives


The Task Force on Organizational Effectiveness has completed a thorough review of the governance and organizational structure of SAA and has proposed revisions to both. Since the last major revision to SAA's constitution and bylaws in 1981, numerous amendments to both documents resulted in overlap, inconsistencies, and excessive detail in SAA's basic governance documents. SAA's membership has grown, the office in Chicago has expanded, and the number of SAA units has increased incrementally creating a situation where the roles, responsibilities, accountability, and relationships among the various organizational units (task forces, committees, boards, and official representatives) are not clearly delineated. The differences between sections and roundtables are not always clear, while sections are not utilized as effectively as they might be in planning and in accomplishing SAA's basic mission. TFOE has analyzed the constitution, bylaws, guidelines for SAA units found in the Council Handbook, and a series of recent task force reports in order to develop a series of recommendations which will enhance the effectiveness of SAA.

The highlights of these recommendations include:

1. SAA can and should operate with three separate but related governing/procedural documents: 1) the constitution providing the basic outline of purpose, membership, and governance; 2) the bylaws outlining authorities and key responsibilities and policy for the operation of the Society's governance and administration; 3) guidelines providing specific direction for the regular operation of the Society's units, programs, and services.

2. There should be different requirements for the adoption and amendment of each of these three governing/operational documents, granting Council the authority to modify guidelines with a majority vote, requiring a two-thirds vote of Council or a two-third vote of members present at an annual business meeting to adopt or amend bylaws, and retaining the stricter requirements in the current constitution for constitutional amendments.

3. Council should approve the draft constitution and bylaws (Appendix A) at its January 1997 meeting in order to set in motion the process required to bring these documents to a vote of the membership at the 1997 annual meeting in Chicago.

4. SAA should retain nine of its current committees (Awards, Education and Professional Development, Ethics and Professional Conduct, Host, Membership, Nominating, Program, Public Information, and Selection of Fellows). SAA should create two new committees (Appointments and Standards). SAA should eliminate five committees (Archival Information Exchange, Institutional Evaluation and Development, International Affairs, Legal and Legislative Issues, and Status of Women). The Committee on Education and Professional Development should assume the responsibilities of the Education Office Advisory Board which should be abolished. The new Standards Committee should have two subcommittees affiliated with it: a Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards, which will assume responsibility for much of the work currently done by CAIE, and an Archival Standards Review Panel which will replace the current Standards Board.

5. SAA should retain two boards: the American Archivist Editorial Board and the Publications Board.

6. SAA should add two new official representatives to the International Council on Archives and to the Association of Canadian Archivists. SAA should eliminate the official representative to the International Research and Exchanges Board. SAA should modify the appointment and reporting process for some official representatives by designating a Council member or the Executive Director as the official representative to six organizations, affiliating five member representatives with the new Standards Committee and one with the Preservation Section, and retaining six member representatives who report to Council.

7. SAA should involve sections more directly in SAA activities and strengthen the ties between section leadership and Council through a series of specific actions outlined in this report. SAA should adopt a "cafeteria-style" membership plan whereby members may select as many sections as they wish to join but will pay more above a base member's fee.

8. Roundtables should be redefined in a less formal manner as discussion groups that meet together and communicate to share information and discuss issues of mutual interest. Roundtables should be absolved any reporting or planning requirements other than reporting a liaison for communication with the SAA office. SAA should not provide financial assistance to roundtables, but they will be included in the Leadership Directory and provided a meeting time and space at the annual meeting. Current roundtables should reaffirm their roundtable status during 1997/98.

9. Council should encourage the formation of some new roundtables, the merger of some roundtables with sections, the change in status of one section to a roundtable, and several other minor changes as recommended in this report.

10. Council should establish two new task forces to address issues which arose during TFOE's review but that were beyond the charge to TFOE. A Task Force on Dues Structure and Membership Benefits should be formed to review SAA's dues structure and develop a means to implement the "cafeteria-style" plan where services and benefits are closely aligned with the amount of dues paid. A Task Force on the Annual Meeting is needed review the annual meeting structure, especially with regard to members who may wish to attend multiple section meetings.

TFOE has provided general guidelines for SAA units which propose how units should be established; their function and purpose; appointments, composition and terms of service; expectations, reporting, and products; relationships with other units; and terms for termination. Council should use these guidelines as a template for revising the Council Handbook to bring unit guidelines in line with the revised organizational structure.

TFOE urges Council to review and adopt this report at its January meeting in order to bring the revised constitution and bylaws to a membership vote at the 1997 annual meeting in Chicago and to implement the recommended changes by the 1998 annual meeting.

Report to SAA Council


SAA Council established a Task Force on Organizational Effectiveness in June 1995 to conduct a comprehensive analysis of SAA's governance and organizational structure. Before establishing the Task Force, Council reviewed the basic purpose of SAA as articulated in the SAA constitution:

to provide a means for effective cooperation among persons concerned with documentation of human experience; to stimulate and to publish the results of research in archival administration and records management; to promote the adoption of sound principles and standards by all public and private agencies responsible for the preservation and administration of records; to foster a better public understanding of the nature and value of archival operations and holdings; to develop professional standards, particularly for the training of archivists, records managers, and custodians of private papers, and to improve the facilities and increase the opportunities for such training; to maintain and strengthen relations with historians, librarians, educators, public administrators, and others in allied disciplines; to cooperate with other professional organizations, cultural and educational institutions, and international organizations having mutual interests in the preservation and use of recorded heritage.

Council agreed that these basic purposes for the SAA endured, but that other changes in SAA and the larger environment justified a comprehensive review of SAA's governance and organizational structure. Since the last major revision to SAA's constitution and bylaws in 1981, its membership has grown, the office in Chicago has expanded, and the number of SAA units has increased incrementally. SAA faces new and more complex demands for membership services and leadership. New means of communication also present new options for sharing and disseminating information and for conducting some of the business of the Society and its various units.

In light of these changes, the Task Force on Organizational Effectiveness was established with the following charge:

Review, clarify, and simplify the constitution and bylaws.
Distinguish clearly the concepts and principles that belong in the constitution from the provisions for their administration that belong in the bylaws or in guidelines for SAA units.
Reexamine and if necessary revise procedures presently specified in the constitution and bylaws.
Define and clarify the roles, responsibilities, accountability, and relationships among the various types of SAA organizational units (task forces, committees, boards, etc.).
Identify which SAA units are needed to accomplish the objectives of SAA effectively.
Incorporate the relevant recommendations from the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables into the SAA organizational structure.

The Task Force was instructed to consider several recent reports and documents that had addressed organizational and governance issues in SAA, including the SAA Strategic Plan, the reports of the Electronic Records Strategies Task Force, the Congressional Liaison Task Force, and the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables. The initial time line for the Task Force was August 1, 1995 through September 1, 1996. Council extended this time line until January 1997.

Background Leading To The Establishment of TFOE
Nearly twenty-five years have passed since SAA's previous comprehensive review of its governance and organizational structure. In 1971, SAA President Philip P. Mason established the Committee for the 1970s to "study the organizational and program needs of the Society for the coming decade." That Committee issued its final report in 1972.1 Among its major recommendations were that SAA hire an executive director and raise the dues and fees to pay for the post; present a dual slate of candidates for elective office; establish close ties with regional archival associations; open up committee membership; expand the publications program; establish standards for professional education; and expand the variety of sessions at the SAA annual meeting. The Committee also took a forthright position on the social issues of that time and suggested that "SAA should be actively committed to the social goals of racial justice, equal employment, and reasonable access to research materials."2 With only minor modifications, Council accepted the recommendations of the Committee.

SAA made subsequent modifications to its organizational structure. At the 1978 annual business meeting the membership adopted the report of the Committee on Committees which recommended a tripartite organization of ten Professional Affinity Groups (later renamed sections), four task forces, and eleven standing and joint committees. In January 1980, Council established a Constitutional Revision Task Force chaired by J. Frank Cook. A revised constitution and bylaws were published in the July 1981 SAA Newsletter and adopted by the membership with minor revisions at the 1981 annual business meeting. Subsequent amendments to the constitution adopted at the 1982 annual business meeting expanded the number of at-large Councilors from eight, serving four-year terms, to nine, serving three-year terms, and empowered Council to propose constitutional amendments.

The Society's achievements during the two decades following the Report of the Committee on the 1970s probably far exceed the expectations of that Committee's members. By 1995, SAA had more than 3,500 individual and institutional members, an annual budget of $1.2 million, and a paid staff of nine in the Chicago office. SAA's programs, services, and ambitions had also grown. New organizational units were established in response to new issues and new member interests. When Council established TFOE in June 1995, SAA had 15 standing committees, four boards, three task forces, 13 sections, 22 roundtables, and 17 official representatives to allied organizations. A tiered dues structure had been introduced with dues ranging from $65.00 to $170.00 for individuals. The average cost per member of delivering services was $97.00.

As the SAA matures and approaches another stage in its development, the need for TFOE bears many similarities to the motivations that inspired the Committee on the 1970s. Although a stable executive office is in place and SAA has contributed to significant advances in the archival profession, Council sensed that SAA needed to reexamine its basic structure in order to respond to more diverse member needs and rising expectations for effectiveness in member services, publications, education, public outreach, and policy. The SAA office faces regular requests from members for new services and for support for projects initiated by SAA units. Pressure for SAA to develop position statements or take action on issues of access to archives, information policy, and electronic records require both flexibility and quick decision making. The current organizational structure does not always meet the needs for quick response, while SAA's elected officers do not always have the time or the expertise to develop positions on increasingly complex issues with significant consequences for archivists. Communication and coordination among SAA units and between SAA units and Council has been also noted as a problem in a series of leadership forums and in several reports to Council. Like the circumstances leading to the Committee on the 1970s, growth of the SAA, new member interests, and changing external demands forced a comprehensive review of SAA's governance structure, organization, and means of communication.

TFOE's recommendations build on a series of reports and plans developed during the past decade which examined aspects of SAA's mission, organization, and external relations. In 1986, the SAA published Planning for the Archival Profession, a report of the Committee on Goals and Priorities which looked broadly at challenges facing the archival profession and recommended priorities for research, development, and action. Planning for the Archival Profession was followed by a second CGAP report in 1988, An Action Agenda for the Archival Profession: Institutionalizing the Planning Process. That report presented the recommendations of planning groups in five areas: appraisal and documentation strategies, automated records and techniques, institutional evaluation and standards, management training, and the education of archivists. Two years later, Victoria Irons Walch compiled a report on a five-year assessment project that evaluated activities planned, undertaken, or completed since the first GAP report. Her evaluation assessed how well these activities had met the goals in the GAP report.

In 1989, CGAP turned its attention to SAA's own goals and priorities. Working with the endorsement of SAA Council, CGAP drafted a strategic plan for SAA which was presented to SAA membership at the 1992 annual meeting in Montreal. Taking into account input from members and from Council, CGAP revised the strategic plan during 1993. Council adopted the Strategic Plan at the 1993 annual meeting in New Orleans. The strategic plan established four goals for the SAA: to exert active leadership on significant archival issues, to provide opportunities for continuing professional growth and promote high quality archival education programs, to position SAA to lead the archival profession in advancing electronic records issues, and to increase SAA's overall effectiveness as an organization by improving its structure, methods of communications, and financial base. The Strategic Plan encouraged Council and various SAA units to initiate activities directly related to the four goals in the Plan. By 1995, some of the objectives had been accomplished and projects were underway to address many of the issues raised by the Plan. In establishing TFOE, however, Council agreed that there had been insufficient progress on the goal of increasing SAA's overall effectiveness. This goal involved a series of inter-related objectives regarding the SAA's organizational structure, Council's own organization, membership recruitment, finances, and communications.

Several other task force reports also pointed to the inter-relationships among organizational issues. The Task Force on Electronic Records Strategies presented a report to Council in June 1995 suggesting specific goals that the SAA should pursue to help archivists assert authority over the archiving of electronic records. The report stressed that achieving these goals would require SAA to develop new methods of operation, specifically

being proactive and getting engaged earlier
empowering individuals within SAA to act quickly
developing ways of acting outside of SAA's existing organizational structure.

In essence, the Task Force report implied that SAA's organizational structure had become an obstacle to rapid response to highly visible issues. The SAA Coalitions Task Force identified weak linkages between SAA and numerous organizations with related interests. That Task Force attributed the weak linkages to a lack of systematic reporting by SAA leaders on the activities of related organizations in which they also held memberships. SAA has a series of official representatives, but there was only partial alignment between organizations where SAA was officially represented and those related organizations that the Coalitions Task Force considered most significant. The Congressional Liaison Task Force, which also reported to the June 1995 Council meeting, proposed a series of actions for enhancing relations between SAA and Congress on legislative matters of concern to archivists. Among its proposals were recommendations for improving communications with members, establishing communications with state and local networks of archivists, and establishing joint lobbying efforts with related organizations.

In 1993, Council established a Task Force on Sections and Roundtables with a charge to "survey current activities undertaken by the Sections and Roundtables, identify the needs, and problems, [and] make recommendations to further the successful functioning of the Sections and Roundtables and SAA itself." The Task Force presented its final report to Council in December 1994 with 44 specific recommendations and draft guidelines for sections and roundtables. The Task Force considered the following 10 recommendations to be the most significant:

Council should draw more directly on the leaders and members of Sections and Roundtables when establishing Task Forces or Ad Hoc Committees within the Society. (Recommendation #1)
Council should regularly review the vitality and status of Sections and Roundtables, including appreciating the differences between these two types of organizational units (Recommendation #4)
SAA should design a flexible dues structure that provides "cafeteria-style" options for member services, especially section and roundtable membership (Recommendations #9, #10, #11, and #23)
Provide section and roundtable chairs with the most significant SAA mailings (Recommendation #13).
Adopt new guidelines for Sections and Roundtables (Recommendation #13)
Review the Annual Meeting, especially with regard to the specific needs of sections and roundtables and the need for common understanding of shared issues (Recommendation #14)
Improve the direct connection between sections and roundtables and SAA governance (Recommendation #18)
Integrate section and roundtable leadership more fully into the planning, budget, and strategic planning process and implementation (Recommendation #19)
Increase communication between sections and roundtables and Council, especially in regard to planning (Recommendation #20)
Develop effective ways to integrate sections and roundtables activities and the SAA strategic plan (Recommendation #21).

When Council accepted the report from the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables at its January 1995 meeting, it recognized that some of the issues raised by the report could not be addressed in isolation from a larger set of governance and structural issues. At its January 1995 meeting, Council established an Ad Hoc Council Committee on Organizational Effectiveness consisting of Council members Luciana Duranti, Margaret Hedstrom, Lee Stout, and Elizabeth Yakel. The Committee was asked to review the SAA constitution, bylaws, and guidelines for committees, task forces, representatives, and other organizational units and to identify problems with the current organizational structure in regard to Goal 1 (exerting leadership), Goal 4 (improving organizational effectiveness), and with internal communications and coordination. The Committee found that SAA had a large number of subunits carrying out important work on behalf of the Society, but that the roles, responsibilities, authority, purpose, and accountability of the various units was not clearly differentiated. A review of the constitution and bylaws also uncovered areas of overlap, inconsistency, and excessive detail in the basic governance documents. The Committee reported to Council at its June 1995 meeting and recommended that Council establish a Task Force to address the problems it had identified. Council adopted the committee's recommendation and established this task force.


The formation of the Task Force was announced to the SAA membership in the July 1995 issue of Archival Outlook (p. 8), and its charge was published on the September 1995 issue (p. 4). The Task Force met for the first time at the SAA 1995 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. On that occasion, it broke out in two working groups, one with the responsibility of reviewing and suggesting changes to the constitution and the bylaws, and the other with the responsibility of examining and proposing changes to the organizational structure. On the same occasion, the charge of the Task Force was presented to SAA committees at their meetings and to the members attending the "Leadership Forum," and advice was solicited.

The working group on the constitution and bylaws began reviewing the SAA constitution and bylaws in the fall of 1995. After examining issues raised in the TFOE background documents, the working group reviewed the current constitution and bylaws for areas needing changes. In addition, constitution and bylaws documents of a number of other organizations were examined and parliamentary procedures were examined. A task force member also obtained a careful reading of the documents and many probing questions from a non-archivist colleague with bylaws experience. As this work proceeded, the working group and task force found there was more to the revision of the documents than had first appeared.

The working group on the constitution and bylaws gave a report with proposed changes, eliminations and additions to TFOE in January 1996, pointing out the complexity of any revisions to such documents, and asking for comments. The suggestions of TFOE members were then pulled together and the Task Force submitted a report on the status of its work to Council at its February 1996 meeting. Council returned the document to TFOE with questions, comments, and requests for further revisions. TFOE decided that they could not be fully addressed without resolving first the organizational structure issues. In the meanwhile, a report on the events mentioned above, and a call for comments, concerns, and questions went out to the membership in the March 1996 issue of Archival Outlook (p. 4).

The working group on organizational structure examined all the issues related to SAA units, including their definition, throughout the spring of 1996. In June 1996, TFOE met again, this time concurrently with the SAA Council, which had been presented with a report on the status of the work on organizational structure to examine and comment upon at its formal meeting. TFOE analyzed the comments of Council and discussed the most controversial issues, attempting to find common solutions.

Following this meeting, during the summer, the working group on organizational structure prepared another report reflecting the agreement of the Task Force, and identifying the unresolved issues; and the working group on constitution and bylaws revised those documents accordingly, identifying the unresolved issues and pinpointing the sections related to the organizational structure unresolved issues. At this point, a message was sent to the membership at large, through both the *Archives & Archivists* listserv (20 August 1996, "Open Membership Forum on the SAA Task Force on Organizational Effectiveness," from hedstrom@umich.edu) and the SAA annual meeting program, requesting its participation at a special forum to be held in San Diego. The Forum took place on August 26. It was chaired by the SAA President and President Elect, moderated by TFOE members, and attended by the large majority of SAA leadership. TFOE presented a brief report on the work to date, distributed for comments, suggestions, and general feedback the proposed changes to the constitution and bylaws and its draft definitions of the nature, roles, responsibilities, accountability and interrelationships of the SAA organizational units, and identified and solicited discussion of the most controversial issues. The small group and then plenary discussions that followed provided extremely useful input for the Task Force, which met the following day for the purpose of analyzing it and incorporating its parts in another report.

Since the SAA annual meeting in San Diego, TFOE has specifically worked on the unresolved issues through electronic memoranda, and has attempted to address and resolve all the membership concerns. Following completion of TFOE's work in defining the various units within SAA, final revisions and editorial refinements were made in the constitution in December 1996. This report certainly reflects some compromise, but is mostly the result of concerted reflection and shared beliefs, and mirrors both SAA's present reality and its vision for the future.


A. Constitution and Bylaws
Overall, the changes to the constitution and bylaws can be characterized as follows:

updates to bring the constitution ad bylaws in line with changes in the organization (e.g., regarding the Editorial Board).
refinements to resolve governance and operational ambiguities or difficulties that have arisen in recent memory.
clarifications and elaborations to resolve internal ambiguities and inconsistencies within the documents.
streamlining to reduce the level of procedure in the constitution as much as possible and to eliminate from the bylaws any procedures that are better handled through the guidelines (i.e., the Council Handbook)
revisions to enable the implementation of TFOE's recommendations regarding committees, task forces, boards, representatives, sections, and roundtables.

Through the constitution and bylaws revision, an important concept has been that SAA can and should operate with three separate but related governing/procedural documents:

1. the constitution providing the basic outline of purpose, membership, and governance;
2. the bylaws outlining authorities and key responsibilities and policy for the operation of Society's governance and administration.
3. guidelines providing specific direction for the regular operation of the Society's units, programs, and services.

Thus, an important new element is the text of Bylaw 7 authorizing the existence of the guidelines that SAA has found so helpful in recent years and placed in the Council Handbook.

An integrally related concept is the differentiation in requirements for the adoption and amendment of each of these three governing/operational documents. Thus, the guidelines, consistent with existing practice, may be adopted or amended by a majority vote of Council at any time. We have suggested establishment of a greater requirement, than currently, for adoption or amendment of the bylaws to clarify the distinction from the guidelines, but we have retained the option for a change in the bylaws at any meeting of Council. No change in the amendment process for the constitution has been suggested. The marked-up constitution and bylaws document is accompanied by a commentary explaining the rationale behind all important changes. These documents are attached as Appendix A.

B. Organizational Structure

Currently, SAA supports 14 standing committees, 3 four boards, one task force, 17 official representatives to allied organizations, 13 sections, 21 roundtables, and the SAA Women's Caucus. TFOE recommends that SAA be restructured to consist of 11 standing committees, including one new committee and a former board; two boards; two new task forces; 12 sections, including an expanded role for one of them; and 18 official representatives, including two new ones, with one eliminated (See Appendix B). Further TFOE recommends that existing roundtables be required to renew their roundtable status based on compliance with minimal reporting requirements and that some be encouraged to seek mergers with closely related sections. Several other mergers of SAA units are discussed below.

TFOE developed a set of guidelines that define each type of SAA unit (See Appendix C). The guidelines define how new units are established; their purpose; appointments, composition, and terms of service; expectations, reporting requirements, and products; their relationship with other SAA units; and how a unit may be terminated. The guidelines provided the basis for determining which types of units were needed to carry out SAA's objectives effectively.

1. Committees

TFOE defined the purpose and function of committees as follows: Committees carry out specific programmatic or administrative elements of SAA's mission. Committees help Council define SAA's directions and goals and support the ongoing work of the profession and the Society.

TFOE recommends that the normal terms of appointments for Committee members be extended from one-year renewable appointments to three years. The President elect shall appoint the chairs of all Committees for one year terms which can be renewed, but no member may serve for more than three consecutive years as the chair of the same committee. TFOE also recommends that Committees be required to prepare minutes of all meetings, forward copies of meeting minutes to the SAA executive office and the committee's Council liaison, and prepare an annual report on committee activities to Council. The purpose of this recommendation is to improve communication and support the coordination roles of the SAA office and Council.

TFOE recommends that the following new committees be established:

1. Appointments Committee

A draft charge to the Appoints Committee is:

The Appointments Committee assists the vice-president/president-elect with the appointment process by identifying a pool of potential candidates for appointed positions to committees, boards, and task forces or as official SAA representatives. The Committee provides a means of expanding the pool of potential appointees by acting as a vehicle for self-nomination of members who wish to be considered for appointments, and by soliciting nominations for appointed positions from SAA members. The Appointments Committee is advisory to the vice-president/president-elect who has final authority to make appointments.

2. Standards Committee

The draft charge to the Standards Committee is to:

Monitor standards developments by external bodies and propose areas where SAA should be involved in the development of standards, respond to requests from external bodies to participate in or endorse standards, and coordinate standards activities within the SAA.

The Standards Committee will support two subcommittees to address specific aspects of standards work:

1. A Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards, which will assume much of the work now done by CAIE

2. An Archival Standards Review Panel, which will assume the responsibilities of the current Standards Board.

Additional technical subcommittees in rapidly developing areas, such as electronic records and preservation, may be established if the need arises. A number of the official representatives will be affiliated with the Standards Committee either as ex-officio or full members of the committee or its subcommittees, including the representatives to AIIM, ALA Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, NISO, the Network Advisory Committee, and MARBI. Establishing this committee will permit SAA to work more strategically in the standards arena and to better coordinate standards work in the Society.

TFOE recommends that the following committees be retained with no or only minor changes to their current charge:


Education and Professional Development Committee (to absorb the work currently performed by the Education Office Advisory Board)

Ethics and Professional Conduct





Public Information

Selection of SAA Fellows

TFOE recommends that the following committees be eliminated:

Archival Information Exchange
Descriptive standards work to be subsumed under the Standards Committee; other activities transferred to the Description Section.

Goals and Priorities
CGAP disbanded itself this year, and recommended that planning become a Council activity. TFOE supports this recommendation but also suggests that a planning task force be constituted periodically to develop new SAA plans, with implementation becoming a Council function.

Institutional Evaluation and Development
Institutional guidelines have been developed; SAA does not support an institutional certification program, so this committee does not meet a basic SAA function.

International Archival Affairs
This committee should be encouraged to become a roundtable; TFOE recommends that SAA also support an official representative (designating the Executive Director) to ICA in addition to the representative to the ICA Section on Professional Associations.

Legal and Legislative Issues
Although this is a key area for SAA, the committee structure does not lend itself to effective action. TFOE recommends that SAA Council consider a partial retainer to an individual or organization that supports a Congressional liaison, such as ALA, or purchase professional services to monitor legislative developments.

Status of Women
Women participate actively in all phases of SAA's business and activities and are well represented in elected and appointed positions. This portion of the Committee's charge has been accomplished. The other elements of the Committee's charge -- monitoring the status of women in the archival profession and promoting an awareness of women's history and the sources that support it -- are not specific programmatic or administrative elements of SAA's mission that warrant a committee.
2. Boards

TFOE defined the purpose and functions of Boards as follows: A body appointed to formulate and monitor compliance with policies, procedures, and guidelines for the development and delivery of particular SAA programs and services. Boards oversee the editorial process for the American Archivist and the SAA publications program and procedures.

TFOE recommends that the Publications and American Archivist Editorial boards be retained. As noted above, the work of the Standards Board would be assumed by the Archival Standards Review Panel of the Standards Committee. TFOE also recommends that the work of the Education Office Advisory Board be absorbed by the Committee on Education and Professional Development.

3. Official Representatives

TFOE recommends several changes in SAA's use of official representatives which should strengthen communications with related organizations and better support the work of SAA's official representatives. TFOE recommends that Council carefully consider the purpose and role of each official representative before establishing official representation with another organization. TFOE developed guidelines that Council can use to determine when it is necessary and appropriate to assign an official representative. Official SAA representatives are appointed to organizations where SAA has a seat or is requested to provide a representative, to selected standards organizations, to coalitions or alliances of organizations in which SAA seeks official representation, and to allied organizations with which SAA desires an ongoing, formal relationship. Official representatives are strategic, not static or honorary appointments. The costs of maintaining official representatives, including memberships fees and travel costs, should also be considered. Designation of official representatives should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that such appointments retain their strategic importance to SAA.

TFOE recommends the establishment of two new official representatives: to the Association of Canadian Archivists and to the International Council on Archives. Currently SAA's only representation with ICA is to the Section on Professional Associations. The Executive Director should serve as SAA's official representative to the office of the ICA director. TFOE recommends the elimination of SAA representation to the International Research & Exchange Board. As noted above in the proposed definitions, TFOE recommends that the role of official representatives be more clearly defined, with reporting requirements well established.

TFOE recommends that representatives fall into one of three categories:

a) Executive Director or Council representatives (Academy of Certified Archivists, American Institute for Conservation of Art & Historic Works, the Coalition for Networked Information, International Council on Archives, Joint Committee of Archivists and Historians, and National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History.

b) Member representatives that are affiliated with another SAA unit (CC:DA, MARBI, Network Advisory Committee, NISO, and AIIM affiliating with the Standards Committee; and the National Institute for Conservation of Cultural Property affiliating with the Preservation Section). In making recommendations for these appointments, the president elect shall ask the Appointments Committee to consult with the affiliated SAA unit.

c) Member representatives reporting to Council (Advisory Committee-US Department of State, Association of Canadian Archivists, ICA Section on Professional Associations, Joint ALA/SAA Committee, Joint SAA/ARMA Committee, NHPRC)

4. Sections

TFOE concurs with the report of the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables that sections should be more directly involved in the leadership of SAA and that ties between sections and Council should be strengthened. Sections represent the principal means whereby SAA members are brought into the activities of the Society; the sections' role as grassroots channels of communication between the membership and SAA governance should be encouraged and strongly supported. In recognizing the general importance of sections, TFOE supports recommendations to increase their authority and accountability as vital units of the Society. These include:

1. Improving coordination and communication between Council and section leaders and among the leadership of the various sections. This can be accomplished by

a) resurrecting the meeting of Council and Section, Task Force, Board, and Committee chairs during the annual meeting. TFOE recommends that an agenda for this meeting be set in advance, with input from the various chairs.

b) involving sections in the review of proposals, issues, and policy decisions that come before Council and the SAA office. A listserv should be established which includes all the section/committee chairs, the SAA office, and Council which can be used to distribute information and seek unit input.

c) formalizing the role of section leaders in the selection of SAA leadership. The appointments committee and nominating committee should develop regularized procedures for obtaining section input in the annual appointment and nominating process.

d) requiring sections to appoint a chair for two years or to pair a chair and vice chair/chair elect so as to provide continuity in leadership beyond one year.

2. Improving coordination and communication between sections and with other SAA units. TFOE recognizes the related functions of some sections and of some sections and roundtables. TFOE urges section leaders to work with each other in developing joint projects, session proposals, and section programs at annual meetings. Further TFOE recommends that sections establish formal relationships-or actual mergers-with roundtables which represent closely related interests (see specific recommendations below) .

3. Adopting a "cafeteria-style" plan whereby members may select as many sections as they wish to join but will pay for more above a base member's fee. The resources obtained in this process will be distributed on a per capita basis to support section activities. TFOE recommends that the proposed Task Force on Dues Structure and Membership Benefits be charged with developing a specific cafeteria plan.

4. Establishing a Task Force on the Annual Meeting, whose charge will include seeking input from sections on how best to accommodate their needs at the annual meeting.

TFOE recommends the following specific changes to the current composition of sections:

1. Change the name of the Archivists of Religious Collections to Religious Archives Section. Establish formal relationship with Women Religious Archives Roundtable.

2. Merge the Visual Materials Section with the Recorded Sound Roundtable and the Visual Materials Cataloging & Access Roundtable to create an Audio-Visual Materials Section.

3. Eliminate the Oral History Section and encourage its members to apply for roundtable status.

5. Roundtables

TFOE recommends that the purpose of roundtables be redefined in a less formal manner as follows: discussion groups within the Society that meet together and communicate to share information and discuss issues of mutual interest. Because roundtables are informal interest groups that meet together to share information and discuss issues, TFOE recommends that they be absolved from any reporting or planning requirements, other than having a leader or liaison for purpose of receiving communications from the SAA office. TFOE recommends that roundtables receive no financial assistance from SAA, but they will be listed in the directory and leadership list and will be provided meeting space at the annual meeting, provided that the roundtable leader has communicated with SAA office within in the past 12 consecutive months. TFOE recommends that roundtables reapply for roundtable status in the coming year, and, as part of that process, consider merging with sections, if a closely related section exists. As noted earlier, TFOE recommends that the International Archival Affairs Committee and the Oral History Section be eliminated and roundtables established in their place. Finally, TFOE recommends that the SAA Women's Caucus be considered to have the same status as a roundtable.

6. Task Forces

TFOE found that SAA has used task forces effectively, especially when the task force has a specific charge for a limited duration. TFOE recommends that SAA Council and the President continue to establish task forces when the need arises to investigate and obtain advice on a particular topic, problem, or issue in cases where no existing SAA unit has the expertise, ability, time, or resources to address that issue. TFOE agrees with the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables that Council should turn first to established SAA bodies for advice before establishing new task forces and that efforts should be made to involve the leadership of sections and roundtables in task forces where appropriate. To support the timely completion of Task Force work, TFOE also recommends that Council abolish any task force that has not completed its work one year after the expiration of its term.

TFOE recommends that Council establish two task forces in the coming year.

1. Annual Meeting Task Force
Council has discussed the need for a comprehensive review of the Annual meeting for some time. The recommendations in this report make a Task Force on the Annual meeting imperative. There are a number of issues related to the annual meeting, such as allocation of time and other resources for meetings, workshops, informal discussions, and other types of events which need to be addressed to further improve communications and effectiveness of SAA.

2. Dues Structure and Membership Benefits Task Force
The changes in membership categories and the introduction of a "cafeteria-style" approach to membership, as recommended by TFOE, will have a significant impact on the benefits available to members and on what members pay for those benefits and services. TFOE believes that the implications of these changes merit a comprehensive review of the dues structure and membership benefits.

TFOE also discussed extensively, and did not fully resolve, the issue of benefits for associate members (See Section IV below). Some members of the task force felt strongly that Associate members should not receive the same privileges as full members, especially with regard to holding appointed positions. Other members believed that there may be situations where Associate members could make important contributions to the work of committees, boards, and task forces or could function well as official representatives. The proposed Dues Structure and Membership Benefits Task Force should review the full range of issues related to SAA's graduated dues structure, the rights and privileges of different categories of membership, and the relationship between dues levels and services provided. TFOE felt that this issue was complex enough to warrant a separate task force.

TFOE also recommends that Council periodically establish a Planning Task Force to assist in the development/modification of SAA's strategic plan. TFOE concurs with CGAP that planning should become the responsibility of Council, not a standing committee. TFOE also recognizes that the intensive information gathering, analysis, discussion, and revision necessary for effective planning may require a separate task force.


In this report TFOE has responded to its founding charge to address a number of issues related to the constitution, bylaws, and organizational structure of the SAA. As a result of the information gathering, review, and analysis of the subjects taken on by TFOE, four additional topics were identified that are significant to the comprehensive restructuring of the Society presently underway. It is essential that Council study these functions and confront the changes that may be necessary in order for the Society to accomplish its mission and improve its ability to meet the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan.

1. Structure and Organization of Council

The first of the issues that TFOE did not address is the structure of Council. While this report makes recommendations that affect the structure of the Society, TFOE felt that Council was best suited to address its own restructuring. It became increasingly clear during TFOE's review of membership and administrative units that streamlining duplicative efforts and reconfiguring linkages would be of great benefit to the Society's effectiveness and efficiency. The changes recommended in this report should help to inform the changes required of Council's present committee structure and lines of communication. The Task Force agreed that the current reporting structure of assigning Council members with liaison responsibilities for certain types of units (e.g. committees, sections and roundtables, and task forces, boards, and official representatives) is not effective for promoting communication and coordination of SAA activities. TFOE did not formulate any specific alternative approaches.

2. Annual Meeting

The second issue, the annual meeting, is so fundamental to the Society and its membership that TFOE believes it requires a task force solely devoted to its study. There are a number of issues related to the annual meeting, such as allocation of time and other resources for non-sessions, the program selection process, and forums, that came up during TFOE's work, as they did during the work of the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables. Because TFOE felt strongly that these and other issues concerning the annual meeting should be addressed through a comprehensive study, it has not included the annual meeting in this report. We believe, however, that SAA should provide more time at the annual meeting for sections, roundtables, and other units to meet even at the expense of the number of program sessions.

3. Organizational Dues and Member Benefits

TFOE chose not to tackle the thorny and complicated issue of organizational dues. This was in part because there are other established organizational structures responsible for this and in part because it was beyond the scope of TFOE's charge. However, dues, like restructuring Council, and the annual meeting, must be addressed by Council as it develops a plan to increase the Society's organizational effectiveness. The concept of a "cafeteria style" dues structure was widely discussed in San Diego and at the TFOE Membership Forum. This approach arose in direct response to the proposal to reduce organizational support for roundtables and the recognition that members do not want their membership in sections to be limited and are willing to pay to belong to more than the two presently allowed. Joined with the desire to belong to a greater number of sections was the understanding that additional resources would be required for newsletters and other section activities. Related discussions included the possibility of a per-capita approach to unit membership.

In discussing the question of Associate Member status, TFOE felt strongly that this category of membership should be retained only if SAA can recover the full costs of providing member services to Associate members. TFOE members generally agreed on the following aspects of Associate Membership:

1. In principle, there should be category of Associate membership for non-archivists who want to join SAA.

2. Associate members should have full voting rights, but they should not be eligible to run for office.

3. Associate membership dues should cover the costs of delivering member services.

TFOE did not agree on whether or not Associate members should be eligible to serve on committees, boards, task forces, etc. TFOE felt that there was sufficient agreement on the Associate membership issue to go forward with language in the constitution retaining the category of Associate membership. TFOE urges Council to take action immediately to increase the dues of United States and Foreign Associate members so that they reflect the full cost of delivering services to Associate members. TFOE also recommends that Council quickly take action to resolve the question of whether Associate members may serve in appointed positions. Because this issue may be linked to other questions of dues and membership benefits, we recommend the establishment of a Task Force on Due Structure and Membership Benefits.

4. Diversity

Finally, TFOE spent considerable time discussing the suggestion that SAA establish a Committee on Diversity. TFOE was divided on this issue and not able to formulate a recommendation in this area.

A charge was proposed for a Diversity Committee:

a) in coordination with the Membership Committee, to recruit a more diverse membership to SAA of individuals from a broad range of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, variously abled, and religious backgrounds;

b) to encourage and promote the full participation of a diverse membership in SAA activities, including committee work, SAA leadership, annual program sessions, publications, educational offerings, and professional recognition;

c) to educate SAA members to the range of diversity issues reflected in our society so as to ensure that the records of all people are properly documented, preserved, and made available; and

d) to increase SAA members' sensitivity to the importance of diversity issues in their professional activities and conduct.

The Diversity Committee will maintain liaisons with the Archivists and Archives of Color RT, the Lesbian and Gay Archives, the Women's Religious Archives RT, and the SAA Women's Caucus.

Proponents of a Diversity Committee believe that the SAA should do more to address all aspects of diversity in the archival profession, including recruiting a more diverse membership, investigating ways to ensure diversity in archival collections, and serving users with diverse needs. In the past, SAA has established such "issue-oriented" committees as it did with the Committee on the Status of Women.

Opponents of the Diversity Committee pointed out that the Committee would not carry out a programmatic or administrative goal of SAA. Such a committee would overlap with and duplicate efforts of other SAA units, in particular the membership committee, appointments and nominating committees, the education committee, with advocacy, publication and editorial groups, and with Council. Moreover, its liaison and coordination responsibilities with respect to other groups adds excessive detail into the proposed organizational structure which is precisely the type of problem that TFOE was charged to address. Finally, some TFOE members questioned whether such a committee was needed in light of other SAA units which should take responsibility for diversity issues (such as the Membership Committee, Archivists and Archives of Color RT, the Lesbian and Gay Archives, the Women's Religious Archives RT, and the SAA Women's Caucus). Because we were unable to reach an agreement on this issue, TFOE refers it to Council with no specific recommendation for further action.

The necessity of reorganizing Council's structure, revamping the annual meeting, and considering a new approach to the dues structure are essential components of planning for a stronger and more effective Society. These are issues that are not addressed in this report, but TFOE strongly recommends that they be addressed by Council as part of the process of restructuring.


The Task Force has prepared a draft of the constitution with new text shaded and superseded text struck-out. In anticipation of the potential complexity of presenting the constitution and bylaws to the membership at Chicago, the services of J. Frank Cook were enlisted to guide this process. Frank Cook not only has extensive SAA experience but he successfully shepherded the last major constitutional revision in 1981.

Provided that Council approves the draft constitution and bylaws at its January 1997 meeting (with perhaps minor editorial changes), the text of the constitution and bylaws can appear in the March 1997 issue of Archival Outlook. This timetable is necessary in order for a membership vote on the constitution to take place at the annual business meeting in Chicago in August 1997.

Once the new constitution has been adopted by the Chicago business meeting, the revised bylaws should be considered for adoption at the same business meeting. Should any bylaws issues not be resolved at the business meeting, those items can be referred to Council for action either at its end of annual or its winter session.

The TFOE report describes the new SAA organizational structure and the bylaws contain the revised descriptions of SAA units. The timetable for implementing these structural changes can begin once Council has accepted the TFOE report. The new bylaws do not contain detailed guidelines for SAA units in order to afford SAA more flexibility in the future for re-organization and restructuring. The Council Handbook will be the guiding document for SAA organizational units, and it will need revision where the functions, composition, or other aspects of units are changed.

SAA Council should communicate with the chairs of each of these groups to advise them of the changes and the impact of those changes on their specific unit. In some cases, units will disappear; in others their responsibility will change or become linked with the charge to another unit. Changes in membership terms on standing committees and boards, and appointments as official representatives will begin to take effect with the 1997-1998 cycle of appointments.

The revised descriptions for sections and roundtables include the terms for their dissolution. TFOE recommends that Council ask each roundtable to petition to continue under the new guidelines, encouraging in specific cases discussed above that certain roundtables merge with closely related sections. This step should take place between Council's meeting in January 1997 and the Annual Meeting in Chicago. All groups should be given an official meeting time and place at the Chicago meeting to facilitate the necessary discussions with the intention of fully implementing the new organizational structure by the 1998 annual SAA meeting.

By the January 1998 Council meeting, there should be a clear sense of the organizational structure and units that will enable Council to discuss its own reorganization. The current separation into three Council Committees has provided each unit with a Council liaison, but has also contributed to the confusion and overlap in communications among SAA units. Council reorganization will also allow SAA to respond to the recommendations of the Task Force on Sections and Roundtables.




This report and the attached recommendations for changes in the constitution, bylaws, and organizational structure provide a framework for a more effective organization. By eliminating overlap, inconsistencies, and excessive detail from the basic governance documents, TFOE's recommendations offers a more flexible governance structure that will facilitate modification and revisions as the SAA needs to adapt to changing conditions and demands. The streamlined organizational structure with fewer committees and boards and a clearer distinction between the various types of organizational entities will enable Council to focus on core programmatic and administrative goals of the Society. Reinforcing the role and responsibility of sections and integrating section leaders more fully into the SAA's leadership structure provides a means for greater membership participation in the Society's affairs. Loosening the formal ties between roundtables and Council will provide more opportunities for members to come together to discuss issues of common concern and share information.

The recommendations in this report only address the formal and structural elements needed to make SAA more effective. To fully achieve the goals of organizational effectiveness, Council must provide leadership in the areas of communication, coordination, and accountability. Some of TFOE's most important recommendations involve greater accountability on the part of SAA units and more communication through regular reporting by committees, boards, task forces, and official representatives to Council and to the SAA office. The guidelines for SAA units include provisions for periodic review of organizational units and for termination of units that fail to accomplish their charge in a timely manner or outlive their usefulness. TFOE recommends consolidating related units as much as possible by combining units with overlapping functions. Nevertheless, SAA's goals are increasingly complex and inter-related. Council, SAA leadership, and the SAA office must make concerted efforts to ensure coordination of unit activities through both formal and informal means. Better communications through SAA publications, its web page, the opportunities offered by the annual meeting, and through regular contact between Council and SAA leadership are essential for these recommendations to succeed.

1 Philip P. Mason. "The Society of American Archivists in the Seventies: Report of the Committee for the 1970's," American Archivist 25 (April 1972): 193-217.

2 J. Frank Cook, "The Blessings of Providence on an Association of Archivists," American Archivist, 46: (Fall 1993): 397-98.

3 There were 15 standing committee when the Task Force began its work. The Committee on Goals and Priorities was abolished at the San Diego meeting