Task forces should be composed of a broad cross-section of volunteers
from the community and/or those individuals who are considered stakeholders
in the project. If people come to the task force with different
interests, the group will be stronger, especially if controversial
issues arise. This smaller subset of the community is better able
to discuss and come to agreement on actions that may diffuse controversy.
members offer their technical expertise, political support, financial
assistance or other voluntary contributions.
usually oversee the progress of a planning process, the completion
of a study or the development of a facility. Regardless of the focus,
the task force is charged with overseeing the work that is done,
discussing proposals and sharing findings and recommendations with
the general public.
the Task Forceís Role
- What is the
mission of the group?
- Is this group
going to be responsible for overseeing the actual elements of
the project or act more in an advisory capacity?
- What is
the lifespan of the group?
- How will
it be determined when the work is completed and the mission achieved?
- How much
time commitment will people need to make including large meetings,
subcommittee meetings and actual assignments?
- Will training
sessions be offered or trips to other communities that have done
- Will members
be compensated for travel expenses or other costs incurred while
may be open to the public or made by invitation or appointment.
However it is done, it is vital that the group reflect many interests.
For instance, make sure someone is there to represent business people,
elected officials, landowners, conservation groups, recreation groups,
historical and cultural groups and technical areas such as scientists,
engineers or lawyers. Look for members who are, or were in the past,
active in the community such as serving on boards or hosting events.
Ask people for referrals. You want people who have shown commitment
to hard work but who are also not over-extended.
The first time
the Task Force meets is the time to establish ground rules and make
key decisions. For instance,
- Who will
act as a facilitator and key contact person?
- Who will
fill other key roles: secretary, treasurer, etc.?
- How will
the group discuss topics and make decisions such as determining
what defines a quorum for a majority or do decisions need to be
unanimous or can there be consensus with disagreements documented?
- How will
the group communicate outside the meeting?
- Should a
telephone calling system be established or do all members have
- How should
meeting summaries be mailed: electronic or regular?
- Can subcommittees
consist of non-task force members as long as task force members
- Will all
meetings be open to the public or only key ones such as reporting
on findings or discussing goals, issues and alternatives?
- In looking
at the project schedule, what are the key tasks that need to be
done and by what date?
4. Set a
Task Force should meet regularly to assure continuity. Establishing
a regular schedule such as the third Thursday of the month helps
everyone better plan. It is always easier to cancel a meeting than
it is to find a common date people are free. If possible, meet in
the same place to avoid confusion and start-time delays due to people
always have written agendas with expected results. If meetings will
be open to the public, there should be ample notice and advertising
in the newspaper or other venues.
Take Them for Granted
Task Force members
are, after all, volunteers. They are playing a vital role in helping
the success of your project. Donít wait until a planning process
is finished to show your appreciation, especially if it is a multi-year
project. Send personal notes, give printed shirts or hats, pass
out mock awards, sponsor meals or any other tribute that says how
much their efforts mean.
At the end of
a project, the members should all be publicly recognized for their