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SWST Policy Position Statements
Guidelines for Process and Action

Purpose and Goals

SWST produces two types of public statements:

  1. SWST white papers intended for internal use amongst the SWST membership;

  2. SWST position statements that provide science-based information to policy makers and the public at the national level, and articulate reasoned opinions of the professional wood science and technology community on national and international issues of interest and expertise. These are intended for audiences external to SWST membership.

SWST Policy Position Statements further the goals of the Society to articulate the value and understanding of wood science and technology to varied publics and to strengthen SWST as an effective professional society. SWST white papers relate to many of the same topics and/or issues, but are intended as internal documents to promote discussion within SWST. They have not received the same level of peer-review and do not represent the official consensus position of the SWST.

The purpose of these guidelines is to set forth principles and guidelines by which Society objectives may be achieved through developing and promulgating information and opinion through position statements. These guidelines provide a basis for identifying issues and topics, for developing statements and gaining membership affirmation or approval of them, and for managing the dissemination of the results.

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What are SWST Policy Position Statements?

An SWST Position Statement is a carefully prepared representation of the SWST professional view on an issue or policy. Three types of position statements may be developed and promulgated:

  1. An Advocacy Position that supports a particular course of action dealing with a wood science or forest products issue.
  2. An Informational Position that is educational or analytical in scope and includes information and discussion about, or technical evaluation of, a wood science or forest products issue. Normally, a specific course of action is not directly identified.
  3. A Facilitative Position that seeks to promote resolution of a wood science or forest products issue.

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Criteria for SWST Policy Statement Issues

As a professional society, SWST has a responsibility to its members and to the public to anticipate, identify and define wood science or forest products issues that are of general interest and importance, and to respond appropriately. The following questions are to be used as criteria for selecting an issue for which the Society may develop a position:

  1. Is the issue likely to be of major significance to the public or the profession?
  2. Is the issue within the knowledge and skills of the wood science and forest products profession and of the Society membership?
  3. Is the issue of broad enough interest to the membership to invest time and energy?
  4. Is there time for SWST to effectively respond to the issue so as to have a significant impact on resolution?
  5. Does the Society have the human and financial resources to act responsibly on the issue?

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Process for Selecting and Developing SWST Policy Position Statements

Issues for potential SWST policy position statements may be recommended by any member of the Society to the Chair of the Policy and Critical Issues Committee (P&CI). Potential issues may also be recommended by the P&CI Committee or by the SWST Executive Board. Proponents of a potential position or policy statement should provide answers to the selection criteria and may be asked to champion the development of the position statement.

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Procedures for development and review are as follows:

  1. The Chair of P&CI will, for each recommended issue, submit brief answers to the selection criteria to the Executive Board for their consideration and approval to begin the development process.
  2. If approved by the Executive Board, the P&CI will form a task group to study and define the issue, collect necessary information and, if appropriate, develop a draft position statement and action plan. Normally, the chair of this task group is a champion for a statement on the issue; any member in good standing may serve on the task group; one member of the task group will be a member of P&CI and serve as liaison.
    If the issue is not approved for development by the Executive Board, then it may be dropped or returned to the P&CI for revision.
  3. The Task Group work products, including background information, draft statement and action plan, must be reviewed and approved by a majority of the P&CI before submitting to the Executive Board.
  4. The Chair of P&CI will send to the Executive Board the Committee recommendation for a position statement, explanatory information and, if appropriate, a draft statement and action plan.
  5. The Executive Board will expeditiously consider the proposed statement and act upon it using the procedures described below.
  6. If the Board approves adoption of the statement, then the P&CI, with support from the Executive Director, will immediately implement the approved action plan.

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Adoption of Position Statements

  1. Position statements shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Executive Board. Statements approved by the Board will be published to the membership for a minimum comment period of 30 days before they are finalized. The Board must consider all comments received during that period and may revise, rescind or affirm the statement.
  2. If the Executive Board doubts whether there would be general agreement on a proposed position by general membership, or if the Board chooses, a proposed position statement may be balloted to the membership. The ballot may take place by mail or at the International Convention of the Society. Membership approval shall be by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of those members voting. Successful statements become effective immediately after the ballot results are made official.

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Contents of Position Statements

An SWST Position Statement is normally 1-2 pages in length and shall contain a plan of action for use of the statement as described below and the following:

  1. For Advocacy Positions
    1. A concise summary of the position
    2. Statement of the issue
    3. Factual background, which may be a summary and identify a reference document
    4. Recommended course of action base on the prevailing informed agreement of the members
    5. Probable consequences of the course of action
    6. Expiration date for the position statement
  2. For Informational Positions
    1. A concise summary of the position
    2. Statement of the issue
    3. Factual background, which may be a summary and identify a reference document
    4. Alternative courses of action with probable consequences of each
    5. Expiration date for the position statement
  3. For Facilitative Positions
    1. A concise summary of the position
    2. Factual background
    3. Identification of interested parties
    4. Recommended means to coordinate activities which lead to resolution of the issue
    5. Methods to develop additional information about the issue
    6. Expiration date for the position statement

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Action Plans for Approved Statements

Each proposed position statement must be accompanied by an action plan that spells out how the position statement will be used to further Society objectives.

At a minimum, the action plan will:

  1. contain specific plans for publication and dissemination through electronic, paper and other media, including the SWST Web site,
  2. will identify specific target audiences,
  3. will identify leadership and necessary human resources for implementation,
  4. include a time line for activity with identified critical dates, and
  5. have an estimated budget.

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Review, Expiration and Rescission of Position Statements

  1. Adopted position statements shall expire five years after the date of their adoption.
  2. Before they expire, member comments on the expiring statement will be solicited. Position statements will be reviewed by the P&CI Committee for possible revision and re-adoption, or recission.
  3. Position statements may be rescinded by the Executive Board at any time.

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Approved by SWST Executive Board June 2000

For further information, please contact Vicki Herian at vicki@swst.org

Last updated: 7/11/10

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