Unless they're involved in a special interest group or have a passion for a specific area that a state or federal government controls, many people aren't aware of the large number of government boards that actually exist. Government boards are sometimes also called commissions, committees or councils.
Public officials have various reasons for forming government boards. Sometimes, they need more information than they can obtain from other public officials, special interest groups and private citizens. More often, special boards and commissions are set up with the goal of bringing government officials and special interest groups closer together. Government boards bring many different talents, abilities and knowledge bases together with the intent of improving and enhancing human capital.
Fascinating Facts About Government Boards
Government boards typically have a charter that spells out the board's establishing authority, purpose and meeting schedule. Legislation sometimes outlines specific details for government boards. The charter also usually spells out how many directors may serve on the board and what group or entity they represent. Such boards usually have some type of limitation on board terms. Directors of government boards usually serve without compensation, although the establishing authority may allow directors to be reimbursed for expenses related to board service.
Most governments have numerous boards that represent various areas of public involvement. There are boards for libraries, historical societies, housing, education, hospitals, organizations that help those with disabilities, parks and many other niche categories.
Government charters usually set up government board seats so that a well-rounded set of perspectives, passions, talents and knowledge bases is represented. The charter usually indicates that a certain number of directors will come from various state or federal agencies, state or federal officials, members of special interest groups, professional members of the community, or citizens from a specific geographical area or those who have a personal interest in the issues pertaining to the board's formation. The Hamilton County Hospital Commission website provides a good example of the infrastructure of a government board.
How the Right Board Portal Service Provider Can Help to Prevent Conflicts of Interest
One of the downfalls of government boards is that there are many opportunities for conflicts of interest because of the wide diversity of board directors who serve. Despite the challenges that such conflicts of interest present, government board directors have the same responsibilities with respect to their fiduciary duties as board directors of any other board of directors, including publicly listed corporations. Fiduciary duties require board directors to act and make decisions with honesty and integrity, and which serve the best interests of the population they serve. Government board directors may not use their position to benefit themselves or any other third parties.
Potential conflicts can arise because of agency employees and their position on the board, volunteer board directors who own or work in private businesses and their board positions, or state or federal elected public officials and their board duties.
All members of the board have a responsibility to avoid and report conflicts of interest.
A board portal service provider that has experience working with other government boards is aware of the large potential for conflicts of interest. Board portal service providers should be able to help board members reduce incidences of conflicts of interest by designing the board portal so that conflict of interest policies are prominently displayed and easy for board directors to retrieve and review.
Board Portal Service Providers Aid Government Boards With Routine Board Duties
With some board directors of government boards having much board experience and others having little or no board experience, board portal service providers can make a substantial difference in helping the board to run efficiently and without undue problems.
Government boards operate like most other boards. They usually have officers and an executive committee. The board chair follows parliamentary procedures and the board secretary records and prepares minutes of board meetings for board approval. As with any other board, government board directors need to know and understand the principles of good corporate governance.
Government boards sometimes oversee another government authority that serves the public. Such an authority usually has an executive director and government employees. In this type of chartered arrangement, the government board will also participate in handling such responsibilities as hiring and firing the executive director, setting employee compensation, performing employee evaluations and developing succession planning.
Because taxpayers fund government boards, these boards are sometimes scrutinized more heavily than other types of boards. This is one of the best reasons to work with a board portal service provider that can help board directors set up and use the board portal in responsible and appropriate ways that also reflect positively on government boards.
What Are the Services That Board Portal Service Providers Should Be Providing?
A quality board portal service provider will have clients from many types of boards, including boards of listed companies, private company boards, nonprofit boards and charitable boards. The right board portal service provider will understand the differences in needs between various types of boards. Because of the sensitive nature of government boards, service providers will be able to instruct board directors on how they can limit users to only the areas of the board portal that they need to conduct board business.
Also like many other boards, much of the work of government boards happens in committees. Board portal providers should be able to assist board directors with setting up workable space on the portal for committee work.
Board portal service providers should also know that the training needs of board directors are usually very different. Board directors appreciate having access to several different board portal training modalities, including webinars, tutorials, onsite help and one-on-one training for those who need it. Board directors expect a board portal service provider that gives them ease of use and that is backed by customer service professionals 24/7 who are available every day of the year.
Security in a board portal is a vital feature for government boards. Service providers should be able to educate board directors about how they use things like double encryption and other security programs to protect confidential information and to comply with data privacy laws.
Government board directors are as likely as any other board director to take their board business mobile. Cell phones and tablets have become mainstream. It's common for board directors of government boards to work a full-time job, whether they work as government employees or for some other enterprise. That means that they're often performing board business on-the-go or during off-hours like evenings and weekends. A board portal that offers remote wiping of data for electronic devices that get lost or stolen is a necessity for government board directors.
Finally, board portal service providers that provide excellent programs and services will be able to demonstrate cost-efficiency for board directors. They should be able to demonstrate many ways that the portal saves money, including the savings of labor, materials and distribution costs in preparing board books.