The process for developing a recommendation typically has 8 steps:
1. Idea gathering. Ideas come from Congress, federal agencies, scholars and other experts, organizations, members of the public, and ACUS's own staff.
See the list of current projects.
3. Council approval. If the project will involve funding research by a outside consultant, the Chairman asks for approval of the Council.
4. Picking the researcher. Frequently, an expert consultant will be hired to do research, write a report, and propose recommendations. ACUS announces new projects through a Request for Proposals (RFPs) that invites experts in the relevant areas to submit a proposal for how they would do the work. A consultant for the project is then picked based on qualifications and experience, quality of the proposal, and estimated timeframe and cost. Sometimes, ACUS staff will do the research, report - and recommendation - drafting rather than using an outside expert.
You can find recent RFPs here.
5. Creating a proposed recommendation. The consultant's work usually involves both legal research and gathering information from agencies and other stakeholders. The result will be a detailed report that provides background for recommended improvements. The appropriate ACUS committee will study the consultant's report and discuss possible recommendations. There are 6 committees, who are helped by ACUS staff attorney advisers:
Sometimes, the committee asks for additional research, and there may be more than one round of recommendation drafting. Committee meetings are open to the public and people can comment on the report and draft recommendations. The outcome of the committee process is a draft that will be discussed and voted on by the full membership of ACUS.
See the list of ACUS-sponsored reports, articles, and papers.
6. Council input. Before the committee's draft goes to the full membership, it's reviewed by the Council. The Council doesn't have power to change the committee proposal, but it might make suggestions to the committee and/or add its own views.
7. Discussion and vote by the full membership. Twice a year (in June and December), all ACUS members gather in a "plenary session" to discuss and vote on proposed recommendations. Changes are often made to the committee draft during this process. Plenary sessions are open to the public, and people have the chance to comment on draft recommendations before the plenary starts. Public comments are read and considered by the staff and committee chair and can be reviewed by any member of ACUS before he/she votes.
For more details see the Guide for Conference Members.
8. Implementation. ACUS members are not required to follow a new recommendation. But because the recommendation process involves so many people - from government and the private sector - gathering to discuss information and reach consensus on solutions, ACUS's advice is very often taken.
The Guide for Members contains more details about the work of the committees and the plenary sessions.