Technical Support Project
TSP Ground Water Forum Organizational Procedures
October 13, 2009
- Official Position Statements
- Decision Making Process
- Election Process
The Ground Water Forum is a group of groundwater scientists that support the Superfund and RCRA programs in each of the ten U.S. EPA Regional Offices. The group was organized to exchange information related to groundwater remediation at Superfund and RCRA sites. The group is composed of Regional Members, State Participants, and Friends.
1) Each member/participant must currently work 'for or with' the CERCLA or RCRA program or equivalent state program and have either a degree in the geological sciences or geological engineering or three years experience in providing geological/hydrogeological technical support to the Superfund or RCRA program or equivalent state program. Membership requests must be made to and approved by the current co-chairs.
2) Members must be permanent Regional employees of the Environmental Protection Agency. Members possess voting privileges and must join and be actively participating in at least one work group. Members must also participate in monthly conference calls and are expected to attend meetings.
3) State Participants are employees of a state environmental agency. State participants must join and be actively participating in at least one work group. State participants do not participate in formal votes but may vote on workgroups and may chair workgroups. State participants must participate in monthly conference calls.
4) Friends are employees of the EPA or closely affiliated federal or state agencies who join the Ground Water Forum at the invitation of the co-chairs. Friends do not participate in formal votes but may participate and vote on work groups at the discretion of the co-chairs. Friends’ participation in monthly conference calls is encouraged but not required.
- Disseminate information on national technical and technical/policy issues within individual Regions and Regionally incorporated states, as applicable.
- Develop stances on ground-water related technical/policy issue stances.
- Articulate Regional ground-water technical/policy issues to Forum
- Identify inter-regional technical groundwater problems. Solutions are to be developed within the Forum or be directed to the EPA laboratories for further research
- Aid EPA Headquarters in development of national technical ground-water policy.
- Act as an advisor and intermediary to RPMs for EPA Laboratory site-specific/technical assistance
- Act as an intra- and inter-Regional groundwater expert.
B. Work Group Participation
- A work group will be formed to develop a focused position on a particular issue which the Forum at large has identified as a topic of importance. The Forum at large will decide the specific charge of the work group.
- Work groups will usually consist of three to five regional members and be facilitated by a workgroup chair or co-chairs. The chairs of a work group are responsible for ensuring a timely completion of the work group's charge.
- The work group will meet in an as-needed basis.
- The focused position developed by the work group will be presented to the Forum at large at a scheduled conference call or general meeting for approval before being presented to an outside entity.
- Review Work Groups are narrowly defined work groups organized to compile and draft a consolidated response representing the Forum position on a specific document. The Review Work Group will draft the response and submit it to the Forum at large for review on an accelerated (e.g.24 or 48 hour) basis. It is the responsibility of any Forum member with objections to the draft response to contact the workgroup chairs within the designated review period. After the Review Work Group resolves any objections raised by Forum members, the Review Work Group will submit the response to a Forum co-chair for concurrence prior to transmittal of the Forum response to the outside entity requesting the review. It is the responsibility of Review Work Group chairs' to provide adequate notice of the review schedule to the Forum at large and to coordinate with the Forum co-chairs to insure timely transmittal and submittal of the Review Work Group's response.
C. Co-Chair Responsibility
- The monthly conference calls and general meetings will be presided by the Co-chairs.
- The monthly conference calls and general meeting agendas will be developed by the Chairs with
coordination with the forum at large.
- The Co-chairs will ensure Regional representation.
- The on-going agenda of Forum activities will be monitored by the Co-chairs (e.g. work group activities, issue paper development).
- All unsolicited official correspondence will be generated by the Co-Chairs.
- Co-chairs will act as central contact points for all inter- and extra-Forum activities.
III. OFFICIAL POSITION STATEMENTS
- Official Position Statements bf the Forum may only be communicated in writing by the co-chairs. Official positions will be developed by the Forum Co-chairs following the consensus of the Forum at large for the position concept Co-chairs may, at their discretion, request review of any position statement by the Forum at large prior to issuance of the position statement. Co-chairs may delegate the authority for issuing a specific position statement to the relevant workgroup chairs.
- Under no other circumstances may an individual Forum member issue a position statement (oral or written) that represents the Forum at large. It is the responsibility of the members to ensure that their individual position statement not be construed as representing the Forum as a whole.
- General conference calls will be held on the first Thursday of every month.
- Work group conference calls will be held on an as-needed basis.
- General business meetings will be held (a) once a year in the fall (b) biannually with one meeting in the spring and one meeting in the fall at a location to be agreed upon by the Engineering Forum.
- Work group technical meetings will be held on an as-needed basis.
V. DECISION MAKING PROCESS
Consensus will form the basis for most Ground Water Forum decisions. When consensus is not possible, a formal vote will be required
- Where possible, co-chairs will give advanced notice of any anticipated consensus decision making; however, this advanced notification is not required. Consensus decisions may be made during forum meetings and teleconferences.
- Consensus is defined as general accord; it does not require unanimity. A consensus decision does require a unanimous willingness to accept the final decision.
- If there is not unanimous willingness to accept the final decision, there is not consensus. The dissenter(s) may assert non-consensus, prepare a position statement and force a formal vote.
- Forum members absent from a meeting or teleconference where a consensus decision is made have the right of appeal. Within 2 weeks of the announcement of a consensus decision, the absent member may raise objections to the consensus decision, dissent, and force a formal vote.
- A formal vote requires advanced notice of the vote. For a formal vote, brief position statements should be prepared representing both sides of the question. These position statements will be part of the advanced notice.
- Advanced notice will be a period of between two weeks and 30 days, with the exact date determined by the co-chairs.
- Formal notification of a planned formal vote will be made via e-mail by the co-chairs. The notification will state the question to be voted and include position statements on the question. Voting will be done via email. The formal notification will specify when and to whom (either co-chairs or support contractor) votes are due.
- Each region will have 2 votes. The division of the two votes is a regional decision; votes within a region may be split and fractional votes are permitted. Participation of at least seven regions will be necessary for a quorum. A simple majority of those voting will decide the outcome.
- Forum decisions (either consensus or formal vote) will be officially recorded by the co-chain and announced to all forum members via email messages.
- Decisions made following these procedures are final and may not be reopened without significant and relevant new information.
VI. ELECTION PROCESS
- Co-chair election results are announced at the December conference call.
- The Co-chairs are elected for 2-years terms with each term beginning on alternating years; not to exceed one term concurrently.
- Co-chairs cannot be from the same Region during concurrent terms.
- Co-chairs must be from different Regions in subsequent terms (example, current co-chair is from Region 5, cannot be replaced with another Region 5 Co-chair).
- If a Co-chair resigns prior to completing the full tern a special election must be held if the term remaining is greater than three months.
- Any changes in election process must be effective for a minimum of 6-weeks prior to an election.
- Nominations are made to the co-chair in the month prior to, or during, the November conference call.
- Each Region is given two votes which are cast by written ballot. Ballots are submitted via electronic mail or by fax between the November conference and December 1. Votes are submitted to and tallied by the support contractor or Headquarters contact. The division of the two votes is dependent on the Region.
- Simple majority determines the co-chair.
- In the event of a tie on the first ballot, the vote is re-cast for the candidates tied.
- A Co-chair must resign from the position he/she becomes unavailable for official duties for a period greater than six months.
- If a co-chair must resign from the position, the departing co-chair must elicit and choose a replacement from the qualified members. This choice must be ratified by a vote on the next scheduled conference call. The replacement co-chair will carry out the remainder of the term with no detriment to future eligibility for election into the co-chair position.