At its meeting in April, Council approved a change to the Bylaws consisting of a new article concerning APS Public Policy Statements. The text of that article follows. At its upcoming November meeting, Council will hold a second vote, and if approved with a 2/3 majority, the new article will become part of the Bylaws.


A.  Introduction
Article IV Section 2f of the APS Constitution authorizes the APS Council to review public policy statements issued by the Society. The processes by which statements are drafted and approved are described herein. The APS recognizes three approval processes:

1) The Normal process results in a statement to be designated as a Public Policy Statement of the American Physical Society (“APS Statement” or “APS Public Policy Statement”.)

2) The Expedited process results in a statement to be designated as an American Physical Society Executive Board Statement (“APS Executive Board Statement”.)

3) The APS unit process results in a statement to be designated as an American Physical Society Unit Statement (“Unit Statement”.)

B.  Procedure for Issuing Public Policy Statements:
     1.  Initiation
Any APS member in good standing, group of members, or APS unit may submit a proposal to POPA for a Statement.  POPA will consider those proposals which meet the POPA Guidelines for Submission of APS Statements. If a decision is made not to proceed with drafting a Statement, POPA will convey its decision to those who submitted the proposal.

     2. Statement Drafting
POPA has exclusive responsibility for drafting Statements. The Chair of POPA has the responsibility for ensuring that the Statement draft incorporates appropriate APS member expertise. Members with conflicts of interest should not participate in Statement drafting or approval (see section E below). PPC input to the draft statement will be solicited as described in Article III, Section b7 of the APS bylaws.

Upon POPA approval, the draft shall be sent to Council members for comment. The Executive Board will vote on the proposed statement, taking into consideration the comments from Council members. Should the Executive Board not approve the draft, the Executive Board will provide POPA with a written list of concerns, and POPA may redraft and resubmit the statement to the Executive Board. A second disapproval shall terminate the process.  Executive Board approval leads to a Membership review.

      3.  Membership Review
Upon Executive Board approval, the APS Executive Officer shall actively solicit comments from the entire Membership. Members shall have a minimum of 30 days to provide comments. At the end of the comment period, all comments will be made available to POPA, appropriate APS staff, the Executive Board, and the Council.

If POPA determines that member comments justify modification or rejection of the draft statement, POPA will transmit its recommendation to the Executive Board in the form of a POPA-approved redraft or a letter that the statement process should be terminated. POPA, with the help of the APS Executive Officer and staff, will provide the Executive Board with a verbal synopsis of member comments and the impact of those comments on the statement.

The Executive Board shall determine if Member comments have been adequately addressed and if the statement is ready for Council approval. Two denials by the Executive Board subsequent to membership review terminate the process. At no time may the Executive Board edit or redraft the statement.

     4. Council Approval
POPA will present the verbal synopsis described in B-3 to the Council. The synopsis and subsequent discussion will be reflected in the minutes of the Council meeting. If the Council approves the statement, it is deemed ready for publication.

If the Council does not approve the statement, it shall be sent back to POPA with a written list of concerns. POPA may edit the draft and return it to the Executive Board and the Council or terminate the statement process.

A second denial by the Council normally terminates the process. At no time may Council edit or redraft the statement.

      5. Publication
The APS Executive Officer shall publish and distribute duly approved statements, at a minimum informing APS unit officers and announcing the statement in the APS News and/or the APS website.

      6. Archiving
Statements of the American Physical Society are subject to review on the 5th anniversary of issuance or renewal, or earlier at the discretion of POPA or the Council. POPA will provide a recommendation to the Council, and the Council will vote to either renew or archive the statement.

C. Procedure for Issuing Executive Board Statements
In accordance with Article 6 section d of the Constitution, The Executive Board or Presidential Line (President, President Elect, Vice President, and Immediate Past President) may determine that it is in the interest of the American Physical Society to issue a public policy statement in an expedited manner. Expedited statements shall be designated as Executive Board Statements.

      1. Drafting
The Executive Board or Presidential Line shall draft the statement.

      2. POPA review
The POPA steering committee shall review the draft statement and solicit comments from the PPC and the APS Office of Public Affairs. The POPA steering committee may edit the draft before returning it to the Executive Board for final approval.

     3.  Executive Board Approval
The Executive Board shall review the draft statement and any comments from the PPC and Office of Public Affairs.  Additional edits to the draft require POPA steering committee approval. Upon final Executive Board approval, the Executive Board Statement is distributed by the APS Executive Officer and passed to POPA to determine if the Normal Procedure (outlined in ARTICLE XVI, Section B) should be initiated to turn the statement into an APS Public Policy Statement.

     4. Publication
The APS Executive Officer shall publish and distribute the Executive Board Statement, at a minimum informing APS unit officers and announcing the statement in the APS News and/or APS website.

      5. Sunset
Executive Board Statements will be archived after one year and are not renewable. An Executive Board Statement may become an APS Public Policy Statement if the Normal Procedure (outlined in ARTICLE XVI, Paragraph B) is followed.

D.  Procedure for Issuing Unit Statements
       1. Guidelines
Units will establish guidelines for issuing their own policy statements (“Unit Statements”). Units will take into consideration the impact of the statement on the Society and the physics community and evaluate whether or not it is within the area of expertise of the unit’s members. Unit Statements must not be in conflict with statements of other units or the APS as a whole. Unit Statements will clearly denote that the statement does not necessarily represent the position of the APS as a whole.

      2. Process
Units will establish their own process for drafting, approving, publishing and periodically reviewing and archiving their unit’s statements. At a minimum, this process will require the unit to solicit comments from unit members and input from the PPC and Office of Public Affairs, and to consider possible conflicts with other APS unit statements. Units must have a process incorporated into their bylaws before they may issue statements.

      3. Concurrence
The Unit Statement, along with a plan for publicizing the Unit Statement and summaries of comments from unit members, the PPC, and the Office of Public Affairs, will be sent to the POPA steering committee for comments and to the Executive Board for review.  Concurrence is required from the Executive Board prior to publication of any Unit Statement.

      E. Conflict of Interest
Conflict of Interest is defined as “any financial or other interest which conflicts with the service of the individual because it (1) could significantly impair the individual’s objectivity or (2) could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization.” Anyone, particularly POPA and Council members, who can reasonably be perceived to have a conflict of interest, shall recuse themselves from all aspects of the Statement process, including drafting, commentary, and voting. The President of the APS shall be the final arbiter of potential conflicts of interest.

1. National Academies of Science, Policy on Committee Composition and Balance and Conflicts of Interest for Committees Used in the Development of Reports (May 12, 2003.)

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Editor: Alan Chodos

August/September 2011 (Volume 20, Number 8)

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Members Elect Beasley to the APS Presidential Line
APS Protests Iranian Jailing Of UT Austin Physics Student
AIP Releases Complete Goudsmit Papers Online
NSF Task Force Fields Comments On Broader Impacts Criterion
News from the Journals
DOE Weighs Its Options for Underground Lab
Two Gold and Three Silver Medals for US Physics Olympic Team
Women Take Less Advanced Physics in High School, Study Finds
Change to APS Bylaws
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