Task Force Process
Although every North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force (NCIOM) is different in its topic, member composition, partnering organizations, and scope of work, the process typically follows a certain general method.
Task Force Components
There is a steering committee that guides the work of the Task Force by constructing agendas, inviting speakers, and reviewing materials before distribution to the Task Force. The Task Force is guided by co-chairs who preside over the Task Force meetings. NCIOM staff ensures the needs of the Task Force are met by facilitating discussion, authoring written materials (such as reports and fact sheets), arranging meeting logistics, and meeting other needs as they arise. The Task Force meetings are public and interested persons may attend as many meetings as they like; although, comment and discussion is limited to Task Force members unless invited by the chair.
Task Force Duration
Generally, a Task Force meets for 6-9 months. The work can be conceptualized into two phases. The first phase typically involves one-half to two-thirds of the meetings and may be viewed as the fact-finding phase. In this phase, speakers are invited to offer their perspective on the issue. These presentations may include research summaries and/or statistics, a description of a particular program, the challenges and opportunities a certain constituency faces, or national developments. Presenters may include Task Force members, researchers, national or state leaders, or NCIOM staff. The second phase may be viewed as the recommendation phase. At this point, the Task Force turns to developing, reviewing, refining, and approving policy recommendations based on the findings of the first phase. The final report is also initially authored by NCIOM staff during this time. At all points in the recommendation and report process, Task Force and Steering Committee members are encouraged to comment on written materials. Draft documents are circulated via email multiple times. At the final meeting, the Task Force members vote on the slate of recommendations.
Two steps must occur before a Task Force report becomes final. Task Force members review the tentative report, make changes, and vote on the report and recommendations. The Task Force usually selects a smaller subset of recommendations as priority recommendations. In addition, because the report is issued under the name of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the full report must be approved by the NCIOM Board of Directors before it can be released. The NCIOM Board may make substantive changes to the report or recommendations, but typically the changes are very minor.
Deviations from the Typical Process
Although the process described above is “typical,” no Task Force follows this format exactly. Smaller workgroups may be formed to explore a particular (often technical) issue in more detail. The Task Force may be subdivided to divide the recommendations into a more manageable size. Public meetings may be held to solicit feedback. A summit may be held at the conclusion of the work to either discuss preliminary recommendations or announce the final report. The needs of each Task Force are different, and the Institute refines the process to best address the particular issue being considered.
The NCIOM is a convenor and facilitator of stakeholders and approaches the Task Force from a “staff” perspective, allowing the Task Force to mature naturally. As the Task Force develops, suggestions (content or process related) are always welcome.