Purpose and Scope

This document outlines the definition, process and roles for the formation and recruitment of SPN committees.

SPN committees are recruited from within the SPN membership and oversee the governance, cultivation and strategic goals of the network. They are informed in this task by the information-gathering and advocacy of topic-specific SPN Working Groups, as well as the network’s wide range of academic, industry and non-profit members and their associated missions and concerns as pertains to software preservation and emulation. For more information about the ecosystem of SPN groups, see SPN Structure and Process.

SPN will maintain at least two permanent governance committees: Steering and Advisory. Additional committees may be formed or sunsetted according to the procedures detailed in this document, with respect and consideration for the time and limitations of SPN’s coordinators and permanent governance groups.

Roles in this Document

  1. The Committee Proposers (CPs) are at least 2 people from within SPN’s organizational stakeholders leading the committee formation and recruitment process. CPs are typically responsible for drafting a committee charge and initial action plan, submitting drafts to Advisory and Steering for review, and pending approval one CP is tasked as the Recruitment Coordinator (RC) to lead the committee recruitment process in consultation with the SPN Community and Administrative Coordinators.
  2. The Committee Spokesperson (CS) is 1 committee representative annually tasked with coordinating and submitting their committee’s evaluation to the Advisory and Steering Committees. The CS only applies to committees beyond Steering and Advisory.
  3. The SPN Community Coordinator (CC) is SPN’s community facilitator. The CC is typically responsible for triaging any tasks that go to other SPN backbone staff, communicating results of Steering Committee processes to the SPN membership, and making sure everyone interested in joining SPN finds a way to engage.
  4. The Administrative Coordinator (AC) is SPN’s administrative coordinator. Agreements may vary, but the AC is typically responsible for scheduling any meetings that the formation and recruitment process requires and managing administrative onboarding for new representatives.

Committee Charges and Action Plans

  • Steering Committee:​ SPN Sustaining Members will each appoint one staff member to the Steering Committee. Steering Committee representatives have voting rights and responsibilities. The Steering Committee will work with Educopia Incubation Services to establish an operating charter formalizing roles and responsibilities, develop and maintain a set of program objectives and success metrics, coordinate Working Group activities (including establishing mechanisms for onboarding, evaluating, and sunsetting WGs over time), oversee the budget, and help to prioritize services and manage scope. The Steering Committee will also help identify appropriate funding models and recruit strategic partners.
  • Advisory Committee:​ SPN Supporting Members each appoint one staff member to the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee does not have voting rights and responsibilities. This Committee advises the Steering Committee, provides feedback and discussion on all aspects of program and organizational design, and helps to ensure that the initiative is designed to represent the interests of institutions of all types and sizes involved in software preservation and emulation.
  • Others: Other committees may be proposed by at least 2 SPN organizational stakeholders, who become the Committee Proposer(s) (CP). The CP take the responsibility for drafting a charge and initial action plan for the proposed committee.

The CP may use the SPN Committee Charge and Action Plan Template as a basis for submitting their committee proposal. While the timeline and exact outputs of the action plan may be adjusted by the committee itself once formed and over time, the charge should provide a clear mission and scope for the proposed committee’s work (including any indisputable deliverables) and will remain unchanged until re-evaluated by Advisory and Steering (1 year later unless otherwise noted; see “Evaluating and Sunsetting Committees”).

Proposed committee charges and action plans must be submitted by the CP in coordination with the CC first to the Advisory Committee for review and comment. After a review period of no less than two weeks, the draft charge and action plan must be submitted along with any comments from Advisory by the CP in coordination with the CC to the full Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee has two weeks from the document’s submission to review and hold a vote to either: approve and move forward with the proposed committee’s recruitment, election, and instantiation; send the drafted committee charge and action plan back to the CP with suggested changes or comments; or reject the proposed committee outright, along with provided guidance or feedback regarding its decision. If the drafted committee charge and action plan are sent back to the CP for edits, the CP will have no longer than two weeks to re-draft and submit the committee charge and action plan with proposed changes directly back to the Steering Committee for another round of voting.

After a vote of approval, the SPN Community Coordinator will communicate the results of the vote to SPN general membership, including the full text of the new committee’s charge and initial action plan, along with an open call for nominations for committee representation.

Committee Representation Recruitment

As Steering and Advisory Committee representatives are determined by Sustaining and Supporting Members of the network, each SPN member is responsible for determining the internal processes and procedures to determine their permanent committee representatives as appropriate. SPN members are expected and encouraged to adhere to SPN’s stated Mission and Values in determining their representatives to SPN Steering and Advisory Committees.

For all other charged committees, committee representatives must be recruited to serve from within the general SPN membership.

The Recruitment Coordinator, Community Coordinator, and Administrative Coordinator work together to administer most of the recruitment process (together they are the “recruitment working group”).

First the CPs must appoint a Recruiting Coordinator from among themselves. The RC then works with the recruitment working group to fill out the Committee Recruitment Plan. Once complete, the RC sends the plan to the CC and the AC. The CC reviews the plan and triages additional tasks based on the committee’s recruitment plan within a week.

The CC also reviews the communication templates and signs off on the plan as a whole. Then recruitment launches with the roles and timeline agreed upon in the Recruitment Plan.

When recruitment closes, the recruitment working group must evaluate – and the RC must respond – to all interested candidates with a result within two weeks. SPN commits to communicating with all interested volunteers whether they join the recruiting committee or not.

For successful recruits, the RC’s follow-up email should involve the Community Coordinator and Administrative Coordinator, and should request additional information required for onboarding (see Committee Recruitment Plan for a template).

The RC must share contact and application information with the CC for any candidates the committee cannot accommodate. The CC takes responsibility for finding a place for interested volunteers to contribute when recruiting committees become full.

The entire process takes about eight weeks from preparation to completion. See the Committee Recruitment Plan Template for a detailed timeline and suggested delineation of roles and responsibilities.

Committee Expectations

The number of people serving on each committee will vary based on the committee’s charge and action plan. As outlined above, the number of representatives on Steering and Advisory Committees will vary accordingly to the number of Sustaining and Supporting Members in the network.

For all other committees, this number will be determined by the CP and included in the committee’s initial action plan.

For non-permanent committees, the expected duration of service for committee representatives will be one year, unless otherwise determined by the CPs and included in the committee’s initial action plan.

Instantiating a Committee

After completion of recruitment for a newly-charged committee, the CC will manage communication to all accepted representatives, and the general membership, and will communicate alternate ways to engage individuals members who were not selected. The CC and AC will also set up the communication channels required to start the committee and coordinate scheduling, according to the Recruitment Plan.

Evaluating and Sunsetting Committees

Unless otherwise determined in a committee’s particular charge and action plan, non-permanent committees will be expected to submit a self-evaluation for the review of Advisory and Steering after a year of activity. The committee should appoint a Committee Spokesperson (CS) to coordinate the drafting and submission of this brief self-evaluation.

The committee’s self-evaluation statement should address:

  1. Whether the committee’s activities of the previous year addressed the Steering Committee’s charge.
  2. Any relevant activities, outputs, or circumstances to justify for (1).
  3. A recommendation from the committee itself as to whether the committee’s charge should be renewed for another year.

A Committee Self-Evaluation Template is provided to assist CS in submitting the self-evaluation.

If the committee’s recommendation is for the committee to be charged for another year, the CS is responsible for submitting a draft charge and initial action plan for the next year as part of the self-evaluation. The committee’s self-evaluation will be submitted first to the Advisory Committee for two weeks of review and feedback, followed by two weeks of review by the Steering Committee culminating in a vote on the committee’s recommendations. The nature of Steering’s vote will depend on the recommendation of the committee.

If the recommendation of the committee is to sunset the activities of the committee, Steering may:

  • Vote to agree with the recommendation and sunset the committee; at this point the committee will cease activities, though the CC and AC will ensure that any documentation and outputs generated by the committee remain accessible to the SPN community.
  • Vote to disagree with the recommendation and re-charge the committee; at this point at least two members of Steering must be selected as new CPs, an edited charge and action plan drafted, and procedure will revert to the process outlined above in “Committee Charges and Action Plans”. The edited charge and action plan must, however, address Steering’s decision to override the previous committee’s recommendation so that these concerns may be relayed to Advisory and the SPN community during the new review and recruitment process.

If the recommendation of the committee is to continue and re-charge the committee, Steering may:

  • Vote to agree with the recommendation and re-charge the committee according to the proposal drafted and submitted by the CS, with no edits.
  • Vote to agree with the recommendation and re-charge the committee, pending edits or changes to the proposal drafted and submitted by the CS. The CS will have no more than two weeks to re-draft and submit the committee charge and initial action plan for a vote to Steering.
  • Vote to disagree with the recommendation of the committee and sunset the committee. At this point the committee will cease activity, but Steering must also provide a statement explaining this decision, to be disseminated to the full SPN membership. The CC and AC will ensure that any documentation and outputs generated by the committee remain accessible to the SPN community.

Last Revised February 25, 2020

Preferred citation:

SPN Policies & Procedures Committee. (2020, September 16). SPN Committee Formation and Recruitment Procedure. Software Preservation Network. https://www.softwarepreservationnetwork.org/spn-committee-formation-and-recruitment-procedure/