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Committee Operations Manual

This is an abridged version of the full Committee Manual. For a full review of statewide committee operations policies and procedures, refer to the full Committee Manual. (available as a PDF download)

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This is a quick reference guide for statewide committee chairs and members covering major committee policies and tips on running and getting the most out of committee meetings. Chairs and members are strongly encouraged to review the full Committee Operations Manual for in depth coverage of all statewide committee policies and procedures. The manual is available on the committee pages of the website and is distributed each June to all members who are on a committee roster.  

Committee Structure

The Society’s statewide committees are structured as eight divisions, four of which – industry, accounting and auditing, taxation, and consulting services – reflect the current practice specialty areas of professionals. The fifth division primarily concerns itself with practice management, the sixth division concerns itself with the public sector, including government, not-for-profit and education, and the seventh with human capital matters. Two of the divisions (Accounting & Auditing and Taxation) are led by an oversight committee to, among other things, assist in coordination of comment letter responses and other advocacy activity with authoritative bodies. All of the divisions are under the guidance of the Vice President for Committees, acting on behalf of the Executive Committee. The eighth division, Operations, focuses on the Society’s operational functions, with those committees reporting to the Executive Committee. (A complete listing of the committees is on the committees page www.nysscpa.org.)

Role of the Vice President for Committees

The vice president, acting on behalf of the Executive Committee, has oversight responsibility for committees of all divisions, except Operations, and provides assistance, in conjunction with the Committee Services Department, in the planning and coordinating of the activities of those Society committees to assure that the Society’s strategic objectives and the members’ needs are met.

Committee Services Department

The Committee Services Department of the Professional & Technical Resources Division of the Society oversees the administration and assists in the fulfillment of the mission and goals of the Society’s more than 60 statewide committees.  The department is responsible for the relationship between the Society, committee members, keeping lines of communication open and assuring that needs and concerns are met and addressed. Questions can be directed to Keith Lazarus, Manager of Committees & Technical Resources at (212) 719-8378 or via e-mail at klazarus@nysscpa.org.

Appointments to Committees

Society members may apply for committee service throughout the year using the online application form, contacting the committee services manager (klazarus@nysscpa.org) or by speaking with a current committee member.

Applications are subject to the chair’s and president’s approval.  Prior service experience may be required for certain committees, such as oversight and operations committees.  Applications are generally acted upon within three weeks of receipt.

Members currently serving on committees are automatically carried over to the next committee year, unless they notify the Society that they do not wish to continue or if they receive a “Do Not Reappoint” (DNR) assessment from the committee chair or the Society president.

Vice chair recommendations are asked of chairs beginning in October/November of the first year of their term. The president and president-elect review all nominations for chair and vice chair positions and make the final selections by April. 

The procedures outlined above do not preclude the chair from requesting at any time during the year that new members be added to their committees, or that members be dismissed from their committees for reasonable cause or when the committee deems it necessary, subject to approval of the oversight committee or vice president, or the president.  

Length of Service on a Committee

There is no specific limit to the length of service on any committee, excluding Operations and Oversight Committees, for members other than the chair, as long as those members are in good standing and do not receive a “Do Not Reappoint” designation from the chair.  A chair’s length of service is generally limited to a two-year term. Final authority for all committee appointments rests with the president of the Society. 

Fiscal Policy

If a committee wishes to incur expenses for events or projects that are not self funding, and which are to be reimbursed by the Society, it is necessary to provide for such expenses in the Society’s annual operating budget.  Annual budgeting is done in late December/early January so any requests for funds must be submitted by the chair to the Director, Professional & Technical Resources no later than December 7 to allow time for review by the Society’s Finance Committee.  See the Committee Operations Manual for required submission information. 

Dinner, entertainment and other expenses of members incurred in conjunction with committee meetings, programs, etc., are not chargeable as professional activity expenses against the Society.  Speakers at meetings cannot receive an honorarium.

Committee Travel Reimbursement Policy

Committee members are urged to devote the time necessary to perform the responsibilities associated with their committee service. Therefore, the Society may reimburse reasonable out-of-pocket costs associated with attendance at committee meetings in accordance with a policy approved by the Executive Committee or Board of Directors. In general, air transportation for travel exceeding 140 miles one-way and ground transportation for travel exceeding 75 miles one-way will be reimbursed.  Lodging may also be reimbursed, up to established limits, where travel exceeds 140 miles one-way.  See the committee pages of the website or the Committee Operations Manual for the complete travel reimbursement policy.  

Note: Members who avail themselves of this policy are urged to be mindful of the need to conserve costs. Travel reimbursement should not be requested when other business or leisure purposes would have required the travel costs irrespective of the society business. Requests for reimbursements must be adequately documented and are subject to review and approval.

Overall limits have been established of $800 of total expenses per meeting, and $4,000 for cumulative reimbursements within a Society fiscal year (June 1 to May 31). See the Travel Reimbursement Policy for further detail.

Other Policies

The society has conflict of interestantitrust, respect for others and sexual harassment prevention policies that committee members and chairs need to be mindful of. Refer to the Committee Operations Manual for a summary and a copy of the policies. All committee members are expected to understand and adhere to these policies.    

Committee Meetings

Scheduling Meetings and Meeting Notification

The chair should contact the Manager for Committee Services at least two weeks prior to the meeting to reserve a meeting room or notify the Society of an alternate meeting site. 

Note: Many chairs will go ahead and schedule out their meetings for the entire year and secure meeting space at the beginning of the committee year. This is the preferred method. A short agenda should be prepared for inclusion in the meeting notice and should be provided by e-mail to the Committee Services Manager at least two weeks prior to the meeting date.  The need for teleconferencing should be communicated in advance as well. 

No less than 12 days prior to a meeting, the Society shall send a meeting notice to all members of the committee via email, along with a calendar appointment link or attachment, and post it on the committee pages of www.nysscpa.org, indicating the date, time, location, and agenda of business (as provided by the chair) for the meeting.

Conducting Successful Meetings

The success of a committee will largely depend upon the chair’s ability to preside over and guide the meetings to a definite conclusion.  The following general rules provide helpful guidelines: 

  • Always start the meeting on time, with a definitive agenda, and with a projected finishing time.
  • An agenda is key. It sets expectations and goals in advance, keeps the meeting on course and saves time. Do not allow digression from the agenda without sufficient reason.
  • Request that an individual committee member or subcommittee study difficult or complex matters and have them report back to the entire committee.
  • Retain control without discouraging free comment.  Invite constructive criticism and even disagreement, but within reasonable limits.
  • Ask for participation and support on a regular basis.
  • Clarify issues, obtaining a consensus and then move on.
  • Do not allow individual members to monopolize the meeting.
  • Chairs should remember that their peers have selected them to lead and, therefore, should not be bashful in doing so.

Meeting Protocols

  • Committee members are encouraged to check their committee’s page on the Society’s website for future meeting dates.
  • No less than 12 days prior to a meeting, the Society shall send an email notice to all members of the committee, along with a calendar appointment link or attachment, and post it on the committee pages of www.nysscpa.org, indicating the date, time, location, and agenda of business (as provided by the chair) for the meeting.
  • Committee members should notify their committee chair if they are unable to attend the meeting and are encouraged to send substitutes.  However, the substitute may not vote on any matter requiring committee approval.
  • At each meeting an attendance sheet will be provided.  The Society staff liaison taking minutes will give the chair a copy, and that individual will give the original to the Manager Committee Services Manager.  If the meeting is not held in the Society’s office, the staff liaison or the Manager Committee Services Manager will transmit the attendance sheet to the chair.
  • A simple majority of committee members shall constitute a quorum for transacting business on the meeting agenda.  At a meeting where no quorum exists, any resolution may be submitted to the entire committee membership for a vote by e-mail so long as the resolution does not entail issues of legal rights or responsibilities.  The resolution must be approved by a majority of the committee members in attendance where a meeting has a quorum or by a majority of the full committee when there is e-mail voting, to be enacted.  The resolution will then be recorded in the minutes of the committee.

Communication Essentials

Effective communication with the committee’s members has proven to be one of the keys to a successful committee. Listed below are just some of the ways for chairs and their committees to stay in touch.

  • Encourage members to check the committee’s page on the website for information. Each committee has its own webpage on www.nysscpa.org. Mouse-over the About Us or Membership drop-down at the top of the page and then select Committees.  On the Committee page click on the committee’s name.
  • Use e-mail distribution lists based on the committee’s roster to disseminate information. The roster is on the committee’s webpage or can be obtained from The Committee Services Department, who can also distribute information to the committee for you.  Contact Keith Lazarus, Manager of Committees & Technical Resources at klazarus@nysscpa.org, or Dayana Jean-Marie, Committees Coordinator, at djeanmarie@nysscpa.org.
  • Consider using the Society’s new online community forum “NYSSCPA Exchange” for committee communications (see the next page or the Committee Operations Manual for more about Exchange).
  • Stay in touch with your oversight committee or oversight liaison.

Organizational Meeting

Soon after the start of the Society’s fiscal year, June 1, each committee should call an organizational meeting of the committee.  A timely and effective organizational meeting is one of the most important factors in the success of committees. Below is an outline of topics that should be addressed at the first meeting.  

  • Set a calendar of committee meetings for the year.  Chairs that do so have the greatest success. Schedule meetings with the Committee Services Manager.
  • Review previous year’s activities with particular attention to unfinished business.
  • Review the committee’s action plan (CAP) statement to see that it remains relevant.  Note: substantive changes to a committee’s CAP must be approved by the oversight committee and are subject to review and approval by the Executive Committee.
  • Designate two to five committee members who will serve as resources for the technical hotline to field technical questions from members (this is primarily for technical committees).
  • Establish subcommittees for conferences, comment letters, and other matters, as necessary.
  • Designate a subcommittee or individual to work with FAE staff if the committee intends to provide CPE during committee meetings or other CPE.
  • Designate a subcommittee or individual to encourage contributions from the committee to The CPA Journal®, The Trusted Professional® and the TaxStringer®
  • Designate mentors for new and younger members of the committee and have a plan to encourage their participation. This can be key to the committee’s vitality.
  • Remind committee members to keep their e-mail addresses current and use e-mail and NYSSCPA Exchange to communicate.

Minutes of Committee Meetings

Minutes may be taken of all business conducted at a meeting. The Society has a process in place that assigns Society staff liaisons to take minutes for all committee meetings. They will take minutes and in most circumstances submit them to the chair for approval within three business days after the meeting. Committee chairs then have five business days to review the minutes and notify the liaison of their approval. Minutes will then be posted to the committee’s page on the Society website and distributed to all committee members. If a liaison is not available, the chair should designate a committee member to take minutes. 

Conference Calls

The Society has teleconference and video conference equipment available for meetings. Statewide committee members who are unable to attend meetings in person can arrange to be conferenced in and thus participate in their committee.  Arrangements can be made in advance by contacting Keith Lazarus, Manager of Committees & Technical Resources (212) 719-8378 or at klazarus@nysscpa.org, or Dayana Jean-Marie, Committees Coordinator, at (212) 719-8394 or djeanmarie@nysscpa.org.

NYSSCPA Exchange

The Society recently launched "Exchange--the NYSSCPA's Social Network," at exchange.nysscpa.org. This new site replaces the old committee Listservs and gives committee members the ability to discuss committee business between meetings, share documents, communicate with Society staff and network generally—in a secure environment. Exchange consists of "communities" of NYSSCPA members. Each committee is a community—only members of that committee, and key NYSSCPA staff members, are members of a particular committee community. 

Committee Activities

Conferences, Technical Programs and Committee CPE

Formal CPE Conferences and Technical Programs  

One of the most important responsibilities of a technical committee is to disseminate knowledge to the membership. A variety of educational formats are possible through the Foundation for Accounting Education (FAE) so that Society members can maintain and expand their professional knowledge.

Committees generally develop two types of educational programs: conferences and technical sessions. Conferences have the widest scope, covering several topics in a full or half-day program. Evening or Breakfast Technical sessions generally focus on one topic in a three (3) hour presentation.

All committee CPE is coordinated through FAE and its staff. Dates and topics are balanced to achieve a well-rounded schedule. All locations and facilities are determined by FAE based on established policy and best practices.  Planned presentations should be set at least several months in advance to ensure inclusion in the FAE CPE online course catalogs and allow adequate time for effective marketing.

For additional information and guidelines on planning a conference or technical session, refer to the FAE Guidelines to Creating and Delivering a Successful Committee Conference that can be found here or contact Chief Operating Officer, Reva Brennan at rbrennan@nysscpa.org.

Committee Meeting CPE

Technical presentations at committee meetings, whether conducted by outside speakers or by committee members, may qualify for one or possibly two hours of CPE credit upon meeting certain specified conditions of FAE. Such committee technical sessions are not stand-alone programs. They must be held as part of, not in lieu of, a committee’s regular business meetings.  Only FAE sponsored CPE may be presented in conjunction with committee meetings. For information, contact Kelly Colvin, Specialized Learning Coordinator, 212-719-8376 or kcolvin@nysscpa.org

Articles for The Trusted Professional®

The Trusted Professional®, the Society’s newspaper, provides timely news, opinions, and perspectives on professional, technical and regulatory issues facing CPAs; and reports on NYSSCPA and FAE activities.  

Articles from committees are encouraged and can include reports on guest speakers, technical topics, upcoming events, and other committee activities.  All submissions may be edited to meet standards of the newspaper and are printed subject to leadership’s approval.  Authors will be expected to assign any copyright rights to the Society.

For information on The Trusted Professional®, contact Ruth Singleton, Managing Editor, 212-719-8321
 or rsingleton@nysscpa.org

Articles for The CPA Journal®

Committee members are an important source of articles for The CPA Journal®.  Committee chairs should solicit committee members to serve as contributors and should also appoint a subcommittee of one or more members to act as a liaison to The CPA Journal®.

Members of NYSSCPA technical committees developing manuscripts for The CPA Journal® should submit the manuscript to the committee’s contributing editor for technical review prior to submitting it to The CPA Journal®. This neither replaces The CPA Journal's Articles undergo a double-blind peer review process and authors will be expected to assign any copyright rights to the Society. 

For more information regarding The CPA Journal®, contact Richard Kravitz, Editor-in-Chief, at (212) 719-8345 or at rkravitz@nysscpa.org. You may also contact cpaj-editors@nysscpa.org.

Articles for the TaxStringer®

The TaxSrtinger® is a topic rich, expert tax, monthly e-publication publication for members only.  It contains feature articles; tax policy op-ed; tax updates, resources and news items; and committee and CPE information.  Contributions for publication from committee members involved in taxation are encouraged and accepted.  Prior to an article’s publication in TaxStringer®, the author will be expected to assign any copyright rights to the Society. 

Send submissions to taxstringer@nysscpa.org or contact Manager of Committees & Technical Resources Keith Lazarus at klazarus@nysscpa.org.

Comment Letters

One of the most important functions of the NYSSCPA and its committees is participation in the public exposure process of regulators (such as PCAOB, IAASB, FASB, IRS and NYS regulators).  Committees are strongly encouraged to undertake comment on legislation, regulation, issues of the profession and issues of public policy interest.

To ensure that the committees speak with one voice, the voice of the Society as a whole, the Society has a policy in place for how comments are developed and approved for release. See Appendix F of the Committee Operations Manual for further details or contact Ernest J. Markezin, Professional & Technical Resources, at 212-719-8303, ejmarkezin@nysscpa.org. 

Committee members are reminded that they are not to make any representation purporting to be an official policy or position of the Society without proper authorization.  This includes through letters, email, blog or other web postings, oral communications or other forms of communication.

Technical Support Hotline

Telephone inquiries received by the Society are directed to technical staff in the Society for screening.  They verify that the caller is a member, determine the relevant technical committee for which the inquiry relates, give the caller the name and telephone number of several committee members and advise the caller that they will receive guidance in finding a solution to their query (not a direct detailed answer, the point is to provide direction). The committee member names provided to the caller are pulled from a list of hotline volunteers that is updated each June when statewide committees are asked to identify volunteers.  Effort is made to rotate the calls among all the volunteers from each committee.  More detail is available in the Committee Operations Manual.

Committees should spread the response burden by creating a group of hotline volunteers (two to five is recommended) from their membership at the organizational meeting. The names and phone numbers of the volunteers should be provided to the attention of Keith Lazarus, Manager of Committees & Technical Resources at klazarus@nysscpa.org.  In the absence of such a list, all inquiries will be directed to the committee chair.

Committee Evaluation Procedures

Committee Chairs

The appropriate oversight committee chair will evaluate each committee chair as needed to provide more information to the president-elect when making reappointments and to build a history of Society leaders.  The president-elect will also evaluate oversight chairs and may consult with the Vice President for Committees.  Committee chairs will be evaluated on the quality of their leadership, committee activities, and administrative efficiency. Oversight committees will also evaluate current vice chairs to ensure that they are prepared to accept a chair appointment.  Final authority for appointments resides with the president.

Committee Members

Chairs are provided with attendance data which is intended to serve as a catalyst to help them gauge participation and consider the contributions being made.  Chairs will receive from staff an attendance chart in late January that lists all committee meeting dates, members of the committee and number of times they have been present, absent, excused or attended via phone. 

It is acknowledged that meeting attendance alone is not necessarily the acid test for outstanding committee service, but it is a fairly efficient gauge to judge participation on a first pass for committees where participation is important.  When “no-shows” come to light, it might indicate extenuating circumstances, or provide an opportunity to contact the “no-show” to rekindle their interest, or it will simply indicate that someone is just no longer interested or contributing.  The chair may then choose, at their discretion, who they want to indicate as a “do not reappoint” (DNR) and have them removed due to lack of interest and participation.  DNR’s should be communicated to the Committee Services Manager and are subject to review by the oversight committee.

Annual Report

Each committee may be asked to complete and submit an Annual Report to the Committee Services Manager by May 31, the end of the committee year.  A request for the Annual Report goes out in April. It is used to measure a committee’s success in achieving strategic plan goals and provides a brief overview of the activities completed or pending to the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the vice president and the Executive Director, and becomes part of the annual report of the Society as published in The Trusted Professional.

While completion of the annual report is the responsibility of the committee chair, it is recommended that the report be reviewed and approved by the full committee at its last meeting. 

Committee Files

The chair of each committee is responsible for the maintenance of suitable files (digital preferred) to facilitate an orderly and informed transition from year to year.  It is of the utmost importance that the outgoing chair arranges a meeting with the incoming chair, preferably before June 1, to ensure a smooth transition.

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In addition to this guide, the annual committee chair orientation session for incoming chairs, generally held in early May, is a good resource, and all chairs whether entering  their first or second year are encouraged to attend.