Operating Procedures

Guidance Manual for Officers of the Forum on Physics and Society (FPS)

Version 05 - February 2004

This is an informal instruction manual offering guidance on responsibilities and activities for the elected Officers, and potential candidates for Officers (i.e., those considering running for election), of the Forum. It is the intention to keep this manual up-to-date by simply making changes as the years go by.

The Forum on Physics and Society has a most impressive, and most distinguished, history. Officers, and potential Officers, will feel proud of this heritage which has been carefully described by David Hafemeister and is located on our web site. We believe that new members of the FPS will feel honored and very humble, but also appreciative of the opportunity to make a small contribution, but an important one, to the extensive list of accomplishments of the FPS.

The Web page of the Forum is located at: http://units.aps.org/units/fps/index.cfm

An important thing is to read the FPS Bylaws, located on our web site.

The duties of the FPS elected Officers are delineated in the By-Laws, but the parts relevant to each Officer's duties, activities and time/effort involved are reproduced below and then expanded upon. Each position is treated separately so one can readily see the associated duties and deadlines. All Officers are members of the Forum Executive committee. The chairs of the Nominating Committee and the Awards Committee are appointed (not elected) and are, therefore, not "Officers" and not on the Executive Committee, but are included here as they have many duties.

Past Chair

The Past Chair shall serve as 'elder statesperson', advisor and assistant to the Chair and Vice-Chair (Program Chair) in discharging their duties; replace on request either or both at the annual (Jan) APS Units Convocation or in the 2 program planning and/or 2 final program review meetings at APS.

The Past Chair is also the keeper of this Guidance Manual. As such he/she shall periodically review the manual for accuracy and updates, and forward changes to the Forum Web Master. The Past Chair shall also remember to forward the electronic version of the master Guidance Manual document to his/her successor as Past Chair.


The Chair shall schedule and preside at all meetings (including regular teleconferences and the April meeting that coincides with the April APS Meeting) of the Executive Committee at which his or her attendance is possible. The Chair shall prepare the agenda of Executive Committee Meetings.

The Chair shall: (a) be consulted and actively engaged in program planning and development, (b) chair the annual Awards session, prepare and present the annual Chair's address and report to the membership, (c) publish occasional items on FPS matters in P&S, (d) approve or send e-mail messages to FPS members publicizing the annual meetings program, or announcing other important FPS issues, (e) participate in P&S editorial decisions, (f) encourage and actively develop cooperation with other APS Fora and Units (FEd, FIAP, FHP, FIP), (g) articulate and represent FPS views and interests in APS matters, participate in the annual January Units Convocation, and (h) approve major expenditures.

The Chair shall also help recruit, persuade, and appoint the Nominating Committee (Four members having staggered two-year terms plus one appointed by Council for one year); and work with the committee to ensure that here are good candidates and that the process is done in a timely fashion.

The Chair shall also appoint the Program Committee (Four members having staggered two-year terms. Chair-Elect is chair) and be sure that the organization of sessions is proceeding properly.

The Chair shall also appoint the Fellowship Committee (Two members with staggered terms. Vice-chair is chair and Chair-Elect serves.) and be sure that the nominations are "coming along", and then that are submitted to the APS (due June 15).

The Chair shall also appoint the P&S Editorial Board (Three members of staggered three-year terms).

The Chair shall also recommend to APS Executive Officer 2 Awards Committee members for the Forum Burton and Szilard Awards (one committee for the two awards). The Chair shall also arrange for the waving of registration fees for those who wouldn't attend an APS Meeting such as for invited speakers who are unable (perhaps retired; in which case the FPS pays), or for those whom it seems inappropriate for them to pay themselves (such as non-physicists).

The Chair shall also arrange and preside over the Awards Session at the APS April Meeting (invite awardees) and arrange an Awards Dinner (choice of restaurant, reservations, invitations, head count).

The Chair shall also preside over the annual general membership meeting which immediately follows the Awards Session at the APS April Meeting.

The Chair shall also arrange teleconferences, on a regular basis, with the Executive Committee (select date and time, arrange with teleconference vendor — lately we have been using Telespan — notify participants of numbers).


The Chair-Elect shall act in place of the Chair if the latter is unable to perform the Chair's duties.

The Chair-Elect shall chair the Program Committee. This is the primary task of the chair elect and it is a very large — and very important — task. It involves attendance at the April and March Meeting Planning Sessions. This includes working with the chair to get a 4-person committee appointed, soliciting sessions and associated organizers from FPS members and helping to recruit speakers for these sessions. It involves interfacing with other units to develop and present joint sessions and working with session organizers and APS to insure that the session information is submitted as required. Solicitation of sessions should begin no later than June, and be settled by September.

The Chair-Elect shall also participate, along with the Chair, or other designated Executive Committee member, in the annual APS Units convocation in January.


The Vice-Chair shall act in place of the Chair-Elect if the latter is unable to perform the duties of the Chair-Elect.

The primary duty of the Vice-Chair is to chair the Fellowship Committee. The Fellowship nominations are due on June 15, so it is necessary to get on to this task right after the Vice-Chair takes office on January 1. The Fellowship Committee consists of the previous Vice-Chair, now the Chair-Elect, two appointed members, and the Vice-Chair. It is necessary to contact them immediately upon taking office and to learn what nominations are "on the table". The APS will send out the nominations that they have received but it is perfectly okay to stimulate new nominations and to consider ones that come directly to the committee. The allotment to the FPS is about 6, so having at least 6 nominees is necessary; more can be submitted and might get approved if the case is compelling. Stimulating nominations is the biggest and most important job. Members of the Executive Board, and the members of the Fellowship Committee will have suggestions, but then the task is to get someone to fill out the form, obtain two signatures and supporting letters from these two and, best, at least one other. All this is a fair amount of work between January and June 15, after which the Vice-Chair has only general duties, but nothing specific.

It is also important that the Vice-Chair become familiar with the members of the Executive Committee and the present issues facing the FPS. Attendance at the Spring meeting of the FPS Executive Committee is most valuable. In addition the new Vice-Chair should read the minutes of a few past Meetings and Conference Telephone Calls so as to "get up to speed".


The Secretary-Treasurer shall maintain the records of the Forum including minutes of Executive Committee meetings (including Conference Calls). The Secretary-Treasurer shall be responsible for elections, per Article VII of the Forum Bylaws. The Secretary-Treasurer shall notify the Chair of matters requiring the decision of the Executive Committee prior to action. The Secretary-Treasurer shall prepare minutes of the Executive Committee meetings and shall submit these minutes to each member of the Executive Committee and to the Executive Secretary within six weeks after each meeting. Following elections, such minutes should include the results of the election and a roster of the current Executive Committee membership. The Secretary-Treasurer shall have responsibility for all funds in the custody of or placed at the disposal of the Forum and shall authorize disbursements from such funds for expenses in a manner that is consistent with the general policies of the Society and the Forum. The Secretary-Treasurer shall present a formal financial report and a proposed budget annually at a meeting of the Executive Committee. An informal budget statements at each Conference Call is very useful.

Responsibilities of the Secretary/Treasurer

  1. Prepare minutes of Executive Commitee meetings (both the meeting in April and after meetings via teleconference). Request corrections and send out revised minutes.   
  2. Duties related to election of Officers per Article VII of the Bylaws. With respect to timing of elections, special elections, notification of the membership, paper-vs-electronic balloting (or a combination), this duty is to be performed under instructions from the Executive Committee, and coordinated with the Newsletter Editor, the Forum member responsible for the Forum web site, and/or the APS staff responsible for electronic messages to the membership. Receive and count the paper ballots. Send messages to winners and losers. Report election results to the Executive Committee and to the membership.   
  3. Prepare Budget Report (usually 2 each year, August or Sept. and after the final report for end of the fiscal year comes in, and then Feb. or March, status of expenses coming in to the April meeting)   
  4. Authorize expenses.   
  5. Undertake occasional correspondence.   
  6. Prepare an address list of Executive Committee members and other relevant people (yearly).   
  7. Pass on information that may be of interest to our members in a timely manner via email.

Forum Councilor

The Forum Councilor shall serve as liaison between the Council and the Executive Committee of the Forum. Following each Council meeting, the Forum Councilor shall report to the Executive Committee regarding Council actions that affect the status and operations of the Forum. The Forum Councilor shall make an annual report to the Executive Board of the Society regarding the activities of the Forum.

FPS Representative to POPA

The FPS Representative o POPA is a full member of POPA and, as such, should act as anyone else on POPA acts. In addition the FPS Representative may bring to POPA suggestions arising from discussions with the FPS and, most importantly, serve as a conduit to the "grass roots membership" for tasks arising out of POPA considerations. It is expected, since POPA is a Committee of the APS Council that the FPS can play, through the Representative, an important role in serving as a direct connection to the APS membership particularly interested in societal matters. The term of office for the FPS Representative to POPA is three years.

Awards Committee Chair

The Awards Committee is appointed by the APS and the duty consists of nominating winners for the Joseph A. Burton Forum Award and the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award. This selection process occurs in the Spring of the year. As might be expected, the "stimulation" of nominations of outstanding people is very much a part of the job.

Nominating Committee Chair

There is a time (six months before our April meeting) for the Nominating Committee to report to the Secretary-Treasurer. The Secretary-Treasurer "shall poll the Forum membership". The Secretary-Treasurer is to report the results of the election at least two weeks before the regular meeting.

Special Note on Elections

The Forum, in good measure to avoid two elections, has changed its "year" to start on January 1, in concert with the "year" of the APS Council and Officers. The annual election shall take place in the summer of each year, with kick-off being (a) electronic notification of the membership and (b) the January hard-copy issue of Physics & Society. The election of the FPS Representative to POPA is now that the POPA Representative is on board for the January meeting of the following year. Also the Vice-Chair now has more time to work on nomination of Fellows.