Changes in ARA Governance announced

Changes affecting ARA Nations, Regions and Sections have been agreed bythe ARA Board 

 Reimagining and reconnecting our groups and networks

This document was compiled by Anna Siddall and Justin Cavernelis-Frost on behalf of the ARA Board. It was shared with ARA Officers in early February 2015
What is happening?
We are streamlining our governance and meetings across ARA groups to 
•Make best use of voluntary officers time
•Increase effectiveness of communication between ARA board and groups
•Improve consistency of our offer to members
Who does this apply to?
•ARA Nations and Regions 
•ARA Sections
•Other ARA groups
•Individuals who represent ARA on external bodies
Why are we making these changes?
In response to the member review we have explored how we coordinate and facilitate grassroots activity, such as ARA’s groups – including sections, regions and nations.  These groups are an essential and long-standing part of our member offer. However, technological developments have opened up new opportunities to support this activity and connect it back into the priorities and support of ARA. After a great deal of deliberation and conversations across we are making a number of changes. These will deliver consistent support for those running these groups and ensure we make best use of the time that people give up so generously to support ARA. 
The details
Enabling infrastructure – byelaw update
We want to create a framework that will make it easier for members to develop as archives and records professionals. To minimise bureaucracy and make it easier for sections and regions to achieve their objectives and meet local needs, whilst retaining accountability to the ARA membership and board, we have updated the byelaws. These revisions are long awaited and have been informed by discussions with group representatives. 
Key changes are:

•Amalgamating the Groups/Nations and Sections byelaws

•Remove the need for local AGMs. As the groups are not charitable structures in their own right this is not needed.

•Minimise the number of officers required. In addition to a Chair and a secretary, any group may choose additional officers to support their activity as required. For example Chairs may choose to delegate budget setting and monitoring to a ‘treasurer’.

•Introduced a maximum term for chairs to serve 

•Remove limits for the number of meetings to be held

•Reinforce that anyone can attend any regional meeting

•Introduce requirement for terms of reference, annual priorities (linked to any budget request) and annual report

•Making it easier to  propose the formation of new groups  (Including regional groups) to the ARA Board

The new byelaws are shown below in Appendix 2: 
Additional guidelines on operational practice can be found in the Officers Handbook.  The Officers Handbook will be updated shortly to reflect these changes.
More effective and timely meetings
a. Introduce an annual board briefing 
An annual briefing meeting will be held on the morning of the ARA AGM for the chairs of all sections, nations and regions, other groups and all those who represent ARA on external bodies.  In addition to an update on current ARA activity, the briefing will give Chairs opportunity to feedback on the current year’s activity and input into ARA’s annual business planning process. 
b. Introduce annual October induction day
This will replace the annual Officers day (currently held in February).  Open to all new Officers and those wishing for an update, it will also incorporate a development meeting for Chairs, focusing on aspects of their role.
c. End the Committee for Nations and Regions
After a lot of thought, the decision has been made to end the Committee for Nations and Regions. This is partly to ensure consistency with the treatment of other groups, such as sections. It also reflects that improved ICT capacity and capability offers a more timely and consistent means of sharing information – something that was not the case when the CfNR was first established in the days of the SoA. A final meeting will be held in February. Our proposals for improved communications (2.3) and support for new ways of working (2.4) outline succession arrangements.
d. Additional meetings
We have sought to keep physical meetings to a minimum, scheduling only two focussed face to face meetings at key points in the year. This is intended to make the commitment manageable for Chairs, whilst ensuring we strengthen ARA by capturing their input into key activities.  Additionally we have increased the regularity of other communications, including 1:1 catch ups. However it remains possible to schedule additional meetings, by teleconference, if required.
Improved communications
a. Summary of board discussion and decisions 
A summary of discussion and decisions will be circulated to chairs immediately after each board meeting – significantly shortening the communication lag between the board and the groups.
b. Improvements to the ARA website
This is part of an ongoing project to improve our web presence and enable us to update content. Improvements have now been commissioned to make these happen.
c. Attendance at group meetings
Board members and officers will aim to attend each region / nation / section / group on a rotating basis. To make this happen we ask that all groups make available their meeting dates for the coming year. Sharing the dates in a single place will also improve awareness of the range and breadth of and help attract attendance to events. 
Supporting new ways of working
a. Chairs
Those taking on the role of Chairs give a huge amount of time and energy leading the planning and delivery of event programmes.  In turn they have the responsibility for supporting the other officers in their roles. To more effectively support those undertaking these roles we will: 
•Formalise a programme of welcome and exit, from the Portfolio holder.
•Work with Chairs to explore alternatives to traditional format of regions/nations meetings, including how to integrate with Core Training, combined meetings or no meetings, to deliver a vibrant programme of events and development opportunities for ARA members. 
b. Emerging leaders
Succession challenges need to be addressed by supporting those interested in taking on leadership positions within ARA.  All future annual officers’ days will include training and we will review how we can provide additional support at other times in the year.
Appendix 1 
Summary of contact
•Terms of reference agreed by board (reviewed every two years)
•Email after each board meeting to chairs communicating key issues and decisions at Board
•Improved website
•CEO / HPA / Board member to attend a meeting of each group on regular basis
•Groups to send relevant portfolio holder dates and note of meetings
•Officers day / Induction (October) – all officers + chairs session on leadership issues
•Late December - Receipt of report on last year’s activity
•Annual briefing (AGM – May) all chairs / reps on other bodies
•Local appointment of new Chair (May / June / July)
•Portfolio holder initial contact to Chair by July / August 
•Annual priorities submitted with budget request (June / July)
Appendix 2 
Byelaws to replace current Nations and Regions and Sections section
13.Groups (Sections, Regions and Nations) 
13.1 Each group shall have a Terms of Reference, agreed by the board, setting out: their purpose, relationship with other groups, how they will communicate with members, review date. Groups will be established according to need. There is no restriction to the number of regional, national or section groups.
13.2 An annual plan listing the priority areas of activity for the group will be submitted each year along to justify any budget request as will an annual report of what has been delivered and achieved in the previous year. Groups are able to undertake agreed activity to deliver ARA’s priorities.  This should be done in coordination and collaboration with other groups and ARA Officers.
13.3Each year, each group shall select a Chair and a Secretary. The Chair is accountable to the board via the appropriate Portfolio Holder and has delegated responsibility for any agreed budget. Other posts may be recruited according to local need.
13.4 The Chair is expected to maintain regular contact with their nominated board contact and attend at least one annual ARA briefing. 
13.5 Nominations for election as Chair and a Secretary shall be received, by the current Secretary, before the annual selection meeting (usually late spring / early summer). A show of hands at the meeting by a majority of members present will suffice to decide the elections.
13.6 The term of office commences from the end of the annual selection meeting. Posts may be held for a maximum of 3 years.
13.7 Each group will use ARA communication channels to communicate notice of meetings and events, seek the views of interested members and let people know the outcomes and decisions. 
13.8 A sum of money, the amount to be determined and approved by the Board on an annual basis, may be allocated to each group to defray the cost of out-of-pocket expenses and administration expenses. All finances are the direct responsibility of the Honorary Treasurer of the Association and all financial dealings undertaken by groups must always be approved, in advance, by the Honorary Treasurer or the Chief Executive.
13.9 Meetings should be open to all members, wherever they are live or work. Guests and non-members may attend meetings by agreement with the Chair.
13.10 The Board of the Association has the power to dissolve groups.