The myth of the agenda

Is an agenda required?

Many questions about parliamentary procedure are directed to Michigan State Univeristy Extension on a regular basis. The individuals who help answer those questions often subscribe to resources to help keep their skills intact. One such resource is The National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP). The National Parliamentarian is NAP’s official publication. Published four times per year, each issue of the NP provides readers with insightful, up-to-date information on parliamentary procedure and how it is applied to a variety of situations and needs. Subscriptions are included in NAP membership. An annual subscription may also be purchased online, or by contacting NAP by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone at (888) 627-2929.

A discussion in the Volume 75 No. 2 Second Quarter 2014 issue of The National Parliamentarian page 33 highlights myths about “The Myth of the Agenda.” The article highlights that there is a common myth that items must be placed on an agenda to be considered. Sessions actually are not required to have an agenda at all. An agenda is a useful tool for establishing the order of business. But an agenda is not a tool to be used to prevent items of business.

Additionally, a session has no agenda unless one is adopted inside the session to which it applies. This addresses another myth that the president sets the agenda. It is the assembly that decides whether or not an agenda will be adopted and what that agenda is to contain.

Many groups find it helpful to establish a “Standard Order of Business,” which can be found in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, RONR (11th ed.), p. 353. Furthermore, any organization that frequently holds meetings and has adopted RONR as its parliamentary authority has already thereby adopted the Standard Order of Business. “Under the Standard Order of Business, the presiding officer processes each item of business that properly arises under each heading to finally arrive at New Business, where members may introduce new items The National Parliamentarian, Volume 75 No. 2 Second Quarter 2014 issue of page 33.”

Be sure to check the governing documents of the organization you are involved with to be sure the rules regarding Agenda or Order of Business are being followed.

The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. The Michigan State University Extension Government and Public Policy team also offers professional training in parliamentary procedure. To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension’s expert search system or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). 

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