Knowing Your Bylaws

Richard Wilhelm

The Rules That Run an ASTM Committee

While ASTM International committees are bound to conform to the society's bylaws, each committee is allowed to and has developed its own bylaws. These committee bylaws exist to provide some latitude for variation on structure and procedure, where this is desirable and allowable within the overall society bylaws, from committee to committee.

The appendix to Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees provides a template for a committee's bylaws, which includes examples for key sections such as scope, committee member classification, officer duties and voting interest.

A committee's bylaws begin with a statement that the document to follow is subject to the Regulations and is in accordance with the society's bylaws. Some of the important sections for bylaws include the following:

Scope - A committee's scope should include the types of standards the committee intends to write, primary technical fields to be addressed and those to be excluded. Additionally, the scope should state that the committee's work will be coordinated with other ASTM committees, as well as with organizations having mutual interests.

Membership - It should be noted in this section that the Regulations describe the procedure for becoming a member and maintaining committee and subcommittee membership. Various types of membership are explained. Rules regarding membership that are specific to the committee, such as criteria for nomination and election of honorary members, should be included in this section as well.

Classification and Voting Interest - Committees include their definitions of producer, user, consumer and general interest here. Consultants are to be classified as defined in Section 7.2 of the Regulations. Additional guidance to assist committees in categorizing individuals associated with companies or organizations having multiple divisions or subsidiaries into the same or separate voting interests may also be included in this section.

Officers - This section of a committee's bylaws should present information on the election and responsibilities of officers, including chairmen, vice chairmen, secretary, membership secretary and any other defined positions.

Subcommittees - Information regarding the establishment, scope and activities of subcommittees is to be included here.

Meetings - A wide variety of information pertaining to subcommittee and committee meetings can be included here. This includes information regarding number of meetings, time and place, meeting notices and agendas, quorum requirements and virtual meetings.

Ballots - Subcommittee and committee balloting policies are stated here, via reference to the applicable sections of the Regulations. Requirements for review of administrative ballots are also included here.

Reports - Subcommittee chairmen are required to submit reports to the committee at each regular meeting.

Appendixes/Additional Information - Appendixes may be used to contain information regarding committee operating procedure; policies and other information, such as details regarding a committee's awards program, not otherwise delineated in the bylaws.

Amendments - Amendments to bylaws can be introduced by any member at a regular meeting of the committee or by the executive subcommittee.

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