TSC Decision Making Practices revision

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HL7 Technical Steering Committee (TSC)

Decision-making Practices Document (DMP), Version [2]

See MS Word version available at [1]

Updated 16 Feb 2009

This document was separated from the over-all TSC definition document to allow its amendment and adoption by the TSC.

This document defines the decision-making practices of the Health Level Seven (HL7) Technical Steering Committee (TSC), also referred to as “Work Group”. The TSC will adhere to a set of decision-making practices that ensure consensus, openness, and balance of interest . The practices as outlined in this document are designed to enable timely decision-making, balanced with an earnest attempt to ensure that input from all affected parties is considered. The decision-making practices are intended to govern the standard operating procedures of the TSC, and are not intended to conflict with rules governing ballot procedure as defined by ANSI and the HL7 Governance and Operations Manual (GOM).

In the event of joint meetings, the DMP of the host Work Group shall be the governing document.

1. Work Group meetings are open to all interested parties.

Meetings of the Work Group are open to everyone to ensure that viewpoints of all affected parties have an opportunity to be shared and considered. Everyone will be given an opportunity to speak; however, the chair may limit discussion on topics deemed to be non-constructive. Depending on the purpose or mode of the meeting certain participants are expected to attend. Other HL7 members may be asked to attend to provide specific input regarding a particular issue. The following list identifies expected participation by meeting type. All Work Group meetings are open; this list simply identifies anticipated participants.
  • Scheduled conference call meetings are attended by persons registered on the TSC list server (i.e. tscadmins@lists.hl7.org). Persons not subscribed to the Work Group list may still attend, however, all meeting announcements, minutes, and other notices will be sent to the list and posted to the TSC’s Wiki page. Therefore anyone expecting to participate is encouraged to join the list so that the Work Group can communicate with them..
  • TSC Meetings during Working Group Meetings may be attended by any working group meeting attendee. Participants are asked to introduce themselves and identify the nature of their affiliation with HL7.

2. Meeting Notification.

All activities will be conducted in a public light with efforts made to ensure ample notification of those interested. The TSC shall utilize two key mechanisms to notify the interested parties of its activities: the TSC's listserv and Wiki page(s). The listserv (and/or Wiki) will be used predominantly for discussion threads, notifications, and draft documents; whereas the wiki page will be used predominantly for final documents and document resources (decision documents, minutes, papers, etc.).
Any use of the terms post, posted, or posting refers to notification subject to these constraints.

Minutes and Agendas: TSC_Minutes_and_Agendas
CCYY-MM-DD TSC Call Agenda
CCYY-MM-DD TSC Call Minutes
CCYY-MM-DD TSC Call Actions

3. Meeting notification and the proposed agenda is provided prior to the meeting.

Binding decisions can be made only at meetings with the required advance notification; only recommendations and non-binding decisions can be made at special purpose meetings.

No co-chair should preside over discussions or vote for which they could reasonably be perceived to have a material interest.

The chair of the TSC shall make every attempt to ensure that all parties with an interest in agenda topics are made aware of the meeting time and location subject to the documented notification requirements. As appropriate, TSC activities will be cross-posted to other HL7 lists, depending upon the topic and type of meeting as indicated in the following list. The HL7 Bylaws stipulate that all physical meetings require at least 30 days notice.
  • WGM agendas are posted in the meeting brochure. A preliminary agenda is developed by the end of the prior WGM and posted with the minutes following the WGM (posting deadlines are established by HL7 HQ; typically 5-6 weeks after the WGM). The preliminary agenda is finalized on the weekly conference call two weeks prior to the WGM and posted within 2 business days. Recognizing the dynamic nature of the WGM, the agenda may require updates. Notification will be satisfied so long as at least two of the following are used:
    • E-mail notification by 6:00 pm local time the evening before the event
    • Notification on the bulletin board (near the registration desk) at least 2 quarters prior to the event
    • Announcement in the general session or lunch session prior to the event
  • Scheduled telephone conference call meeting agendas are to be posted by close-of-business the day [1 business day] prior to a call. Preliminary agendas for the next conference call are to be determined at the close of each teleconference.
  • Should the TSC require action between scheduled meetings, there are two options. First, a Special WGM can be convened as defined in HL7 Bylaws §11.04, which requires 30 days notice. Or, the issues may be discussed in an informal group, bringing forward recommendations to the list or as a discussion topic for the next regularly scheduled TSC meeting. Recommendations brought forward by the informal group are not binding decisions until acted upon by the TSC in regular session.

4. Decisions made at TSC meetings are recorded in meeting minutes and posted.

Minutes are recorded and posted for all TSC meetings including the date, time, and location of the meeting, a list of attendees, the intended agenda, a brief summary of discussion topics, and the outcome of proposals made (including vote tallies, if votes were taken).

Minutes from a WGM will be posted in compliance with HQ deadlines (typically 5-6 weeks after the WGM); minutes from a conference call will be posted within one week of the call.

5. Decisions made outside of a WGM (conference calls and special purpose meetings) are summarized during the next WGM.

In the interest of facilitating transparency and open communications, any decisions made since the last WGM will be summarized and made available at the WGM. The notice of action taken will contain, at a minimum, an abbreviated summary of the issues involved and the decisions made by the TSC. Any decisions are subject to the practices defined elsewhere in this document.

6. A quorum for committee meetings require that for decision making, the chair (or designate) and at least five other TSC members must be present, including at least two of the four elected Steering Division representatives (or their alternates) . For direction setting, the chair (or designate) and at least four TSC members must be present.

Attendance for all meetings is recorded in the meeting minutes, including the name of each participant and the organization (or organizations) they are representing. The recorder for the meeting is responsible for ensuring minutes are taken and posted. Due to the balanced makeup of the TSC, "Preponderance of Influence" is not viewed as a substantive issue for the TSC. The chair may cast a vote as a tie-breaker. Guests are welcome to participate in the TSC and are recognized as either guests of HL7, e.g., not a member of HL7, or guests of the TSC, e.g. a member of HL7 but not a declared member of the TSC.

In all circumstances, the TSC can have no more than one presiding chair. All other TSC members act as regular voting members when not presiding. Unlike other HL7 work groups with multiple co-chairs, the chair shall not change within the course of a given meeting.

Although any issue may be discussed within TSC meeting venues at any time, binding actions cannot be taken without sufficient notification and quorum. Absence of either of these conditions allows the TSC to issue recommendations that must subsequently be ratified by the TSC subject to satisfying constraints placed upon binding decisions.

For Working Group Meetings at which both Representative and Alternate for a particular Steering Division can not be in attendance, the TSC preference is that an ad-hoc member be approved for a short duration, as nominated by the selection of the Steering Division for that WGM. The ad-hoc member has voting rights, and will count towards quorum, but not towards Steering Division representation, and will not represent Steering Division proxy.

7. Decisions made by the Technical Steering Committee are affirmed by simple majority. The TSC will strive for consensus in decision-making.

While decisions are affirmed by simple majority, the TSC shall endeavor to make its decisions via a consensus process. Where a consensus decision is not reached the Work Group shall agree on a course of action to be followed in order that sufficient information to achieve consensus may be gathered. To be called a consensus decision, it must receive two-thirds (66%) majority support. A variety of informal techniques may be used to determine if consensus may be reached, including, but not limited to, straw poll, Robert's Rules of Order, seeking response to a hypothetical opposing view, and polling each participant to voice their position on the issue.

When formal votes are taken appointed or elected TSC members shall always receive a vote. For non-binding decisions only, all meeting participants may have the opportunity to vote at the discretion of the chair.

Once voted, quorum is revisited to adjust for abstentions. Quorum must be met across yeah-s and neah-s for the vote to carry.

It is recognized that revisiting previously made decisions inhibits TSC progress and should be discouraged. That said, circumstances might exist that warrant re-opening of discussion on a previously visited issue. To dissuade this practice, such re-opening requires a formal motion, second, and two-thirds (66%) majority affirmative vote as subject to the quorum rules in this document; however, in order for the decision to be considered binding, advance notification, as defined in this document, is required

8. TSC Members unable to participate in TSC activities in person may not do so by proxy.

The Technical Steering Committee does not recognize voting by proxy. There is ample opportunity to support or oppose proposals under consideration through TSC Wiki discussions, email and conference calls. If a member feels strongly enough about a particular topic to want consideration by the TSC, that member shall be present for the topic to be considered. The chair will be sensitive and considerate in attempting to accommodate schedules to ensure the member can be present at the appropriate venue.

Note: The four TSC members who serve as Representatives of a Steering Division each have an elected Alternate Representative who can attend and vote in TSC meetings when the primary Representative is unable to attend. Votes by Alternate Representatives are not deemed to be proxy votes.

Statement of Position. Those HL7 members wishing to establish a position on a topic under consideration by the TSC in writing may do so subject to the notification requirements below. Statements of Position received prior-to or during the meeting will be shared by the chair as part of the discussion on the related topic. The chair has the responsibility to voice and represent these positions during relevant discussion, though they are not under obligation to support or defend them. These statements do not carry the weight of a vote and are included as informational items only for consideration by the TSC. All Statements of Position received in electronic form will be included as attachments to the minutes.

9. The TSC shall rely upon Robert's Rules of Order in the event that formal guidance of parliamentary procedure is needed or requested.

In the interest of ensuring the effective and active engagement of all participants, the Work Group shall follow its documented decision-making practices, referring to Roberts Rules of Order in the event of a question or concern. Since Robert’s Rules of Order provides formalism for addressing almost all matters of process, this provides a “backup mechanism” of formality in the event that it is required.

It is the responsibility of the chair to guide the TSC to an efficient and effective outcome. The TSC shall follow, in this order of precedence, these Decision-making Practices (which cannot conflict with the HL7 Bylaws or Governance and Operations Manual), the HL7 Governance and Operations Manual, the HL7 Bylaws, and Roberts Rules of Order. The established decision-making practices can refine certain policies and procedures so long as they remain in accordance with the HL7 Governance and Operations Manual and Bylaws.

In the event that an issue arises where formality is required and no other guidance exists, Robert's Rules of Order shall take precedence. This provides a "common denominator" to keep in-check the power of the chair and to confirm the rights of all participants and members.

Quorum Examples

Based upon PIC's Decision Making Practices Document version 2.0, adopted january, 2008.

  1. Simple scenario
    6 persons, including two elected Steering Division representatives , attend a meeting, including the chair (or their designate).

    Quorum is established and the TSC can conduct its business as usual. All participants are eligible for voting;

  2. Tie scenario
    6 persons, including two elected Steering Division representatives,attend a meeting, including the chair (or their designate).

    Quorum is established and the TSC can conduct its business as usual. In the event of a tie this will not constitute a consensus decision, because the consensus majority (66%) criterion has not been met.

  3. Non-representative scenario
    6 persons, not including two elected Steering Division representatives, including the chair (or their designate).

    Quorum is not established and the TSC cannot conduct official business, because two members representing a Steering Division are not present.

Below is a quick reference for meeting configurations. (Note: this table does not have a direct correlation to the scenarios above.) .

Member Designation
Chair or Delegate (e.g., CTO) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Elected Steering Division representatives 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3
Other Voting TSC members 3 2 2 4 3 2 5 4 1
Is a Quorum established? No No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No