Interest Groups Assignment

Interest group, also called special interest group or pressure group, any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes. Their goal could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air quality). They attempt to achieve their goals by lobbying—that is, by attempting to bring pressure to bear on policy makers to gain policy outcomes in their favour.

Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interest that exist in all societies, from narrow groups such as the Japan Eraser Manufacturers Association to broad groups such as the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) and to even broader organizations such as the military. Politics and interests are inseparable. Interests are a prevalent, permanent, and essential aspect of all political systems—democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian regimes alike. Furthermore, interest groups exist at all levels of government—national, state, provincial, and local—and increasingly they have occupied an important role in international affairs.

The common goals and sources of interest groups obscure, however, the fact that they vary widely in their form and lobbying strategies both within and across political systems. This article provides a broad overview that explains these differences and the role that interest groups play in society.

Definition

As defined above, an interest group is usually a formally organized association that seeks to influence public policy. This broad definition, increasingly used by scholars, contrasts with older, narrower ones that include only private associations that have a distinct, formal organization, such as Italy’s Confindustria (General Confederation of Industry), the United States’sNational Education Association, and Guatemala’s Mutual Support Group (human rights organization). One problem with such a narrow definition is that many formally organized entities are not private. The most important lobbying forces in any society are the various entities of government: national, regional, and local government agencies and institutions such as the military. Another reason to opt for a broad definition is that in all societies there are many informal groups that are, in effect, interest groups but would not be covered by the narrower definition. For example, in all political systems there are influential groups of political and professional elites that may not be recognized as formal groups but are nonetheless crucial in informally influencing public policy.

Some interest groups consist of individuals such as ranchers or fruit growers who may form farm commodity organizations. In other instances, an interest group consists not of individuals but of organizations or businesses, such as the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour) in Israel and the Andean-Amazon Working Group, which includes environmental and indigenous organizations in several South American countries. These types of organizations are called peak associations, as they are, in effect, the major groups in their area of interest in a country.

The term interest rather than interest group is often used to denote broad or less-formalized political constituencies, such as the agricultural interest and the environmental interest—segments of society that may include many formal interest groups. Similarly, interest is often used when considering government entities working to influence other governments (e.g., a local government seeking to secure funding from the national government). In authoritarian and developing societies, where formal interest groups are restricted or not as well developed, interest is often used to designate broader groupings such as government elites and tribal leaders.

On 1 August 2014, W3C began a transition away from this document; see the current W3C Process Document.

W3C Process Document

6 Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups

This document defines three types of groups:

  1. Working Groups. Working Groups typically produce deliverables (e.g., Recommendation Track technical reports, software, test suites, and reviews of the deliverables of other groups). There are Good Standing requirements for Working Group participation.
  2. Interest Groups. The primary goal of an Interest Group is to bring together people who wish to evaluate potential Web technologies and policies. An Interest Group is a forum for the exchange of ideas. In general, there are no Good Standing requirements for an Interest Group. Interest Groups do not create W3C Recommendations.
  3. Coordination Groups. A Coordination Group manages dependencies and facilitates communication with other groups, within or outside of W3C.

6.1 Requirements for All Working, Interest, and Coordination Groups

Each group MUST have a charter. Requirements for the charter depend on the group type. All group charters MUST be public (even if other proceedings of the group are Member-only). Existing charters that are not yet public MUST be made public when next revised or extended (with attention to changing confidentiality level).

Each group MUST have a Chair (or co-Chairs) to coordinate the group's tasks. The Director appoints (and re-appoints) Chairs for all groups. The role of the Chair [MEM14] is described in the Member Guide [MEM9].

Each group MUST have a Team Contact, who acts as the interface between the Chair, group participants, and the rest of the Team. The role of the Team Contact is described in the Member Guide.

The Chair and the Team Contact of a group SHOULD NOT be the same individual. The Chair MAY be a member of the Team.

Each group MUST have an archived mailing list for formal group communication (e.g., for meeting announcements and minutes, documentation of decisions, and objections to decisions). It is the responsibility of the Chair and Team Contact to ensure that new participants are subscribed to all relevant mailing lists. Refer to the list of group mailing lists [MEM2].

A Chair MAY form task forces (composed of group participants) to carry out assignments for the group. The scope of these assignments MUST NOT exceed the scope of the group's charter. A group SHOULD document the process it uses to create task forces (e.g., each task force might have an informal "charter"). Task forces do not publish technical reports; the Working Group MAY choose to publish their results as part of a technical report.

6.2 Working Groups and Interest Groups

Although Working Groups and Interest Groups have different purposes, they share some characteristics, and so are defined together in the following sections.

6.2.1 Working Group and Interest Group Participation Requirements

There are four types of participants in a Working Group: the Chair, Member representatives, invited experts, and Team representatives (including the Team Contact).

There are five types of participants in an Interest Group: the same four types as for Working Groups plus, for an Interest Group where the only participation requirement is mailing list subscription, public participants.

Except where noted in this document or in a group charter, all participants share the same rights and responsibilities in a group; see also the individual participation criteria.

A participant MUST represent at most one organization in a Working Group or Interest Group.

An individual MAY become a Working or Interest Group participant at any time during the group's existence.

On an exceptional basis, a Working or Interest Group participant MAY designate a substitute to attend a meeting and SHOULD inform the Chair. The substitute MAY act on behalf of the participant, including for votes. For the substitute to vote, the participant MUST inform the Chair in writing in advance. As a courtesy to the group, if the substitute is not well-versed in the group's discussions, the regular participant SHOULD authorize another participant to act as proxy for votes.

To allow rapid progress, Working Groups are intended to be small (typically fewer than 15 people) and composed of experts in the area defined by the charter. In principle, Interest Groups have no limit on the number of participants. When a Working Group grows too large to be effective, W3C MAY split it into an Interest Group (a discussion forum) and a much smaller Working Group (a core group of highly dedicated participants).

6.2.1.1 Member Representative in a Working Group

An individual is a Member representative in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the Advisory Committee representative of the Member in question has designated the individual as a Working Group participant,
  • the individual qualifies for Member representation, and
  • the individual is in Good Standing.

A Member organization participates in a Working Group if at least one individual satisfies these criteria for the Member.

To designate an individual as a Member representative in a Working Group, an Advisory Committee representative MUST provide the Chair and Team Contact with all of the following information, in addition to any other information required by the Call for Participation and charter:

  1. The name of the W3C Member the individual represents and whether the individual is an employee of that Member organization
  2. A disclosure, according to the W3C IPR policy, of knowledge of relevant IPR claims by the organization the individual is representing
  3. A statement that the individual accepts the participation terms set forth in the charter (with an indication of charter date or version)
  4. A statement that the Member will provide the necessary financial support for participation (e.g., for travel, telephone calls, and conferences)
6.2.1.2 Member Representative in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, an individual is a Member representative in an Interest Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the Advisory Committee representative of the Member in question has designated the individual as an Interest Group participant, and
  • the individual qualifies for Member representation

A Member organization participates in an Interest Group if at least one individual satisfies these criteria for the Member.

To designate an individual as a Member representative in an Interest Group, the Advisory Committee representative MUST follow the instructions in the Call for Participation and charter.

6.2.1.3 Invited Expert in a Working Group

The Chair MAY invite an individual with a particular expertise to participate in a Working Group. This individual MAY represent an organization in the group (e.g., if acting as a liaison with another organization).

An individual is an invited expert in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

To designate an individual as an invited expert in a Working Group, the Chair MUST inform the Team Contact and provide rationale for the choice. When the Chair and the Team Contact disagree about a designation, the Director determines whether the individual will be invited to participate in the Working Group.

To be able to participate in a Working Group as an invited expert, an individual MUST do all of the following:

  • identify the organization, if any, the individual represents as a participant in this group,
  • agree to the terms of the invited expert and collaborators agreement [PUB17],
  • accept the participation terms set forth in the charter (with an indication of charter date or version),
  • disclose whether the individual is an employee of a W3C Member; see the conflict of interest policy,
  • disclose, according to the W3C IPR policy, knowledge of relevant IPR claims of which the individual is aware,
  • provide a statement of who will provide the necessary financial support for the individual's participation (e.g., for travel, telephone calls, and conferences), and
  • if the individual's employer (including a self-employed individual) or the organization the individual represents is not a W3C Member, indicate whether that organization intends to join W3C. If the organization does not intend to join W3C, indicate reasons the individual is aware of for this choice.

The Chair SHOULD NOT designate as an invited expert in a Working Group an individual who is an employee of a W3C Member. The Chair MUST NOT use invited expert status to circumvent participation limits imposed by the charter.

6.2.1.4 Invited Expert in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, the participation requirements for an invited expert in an Interest Group are the same as those for an invited expert in a Working Group, except that Good Standing is not required.

6.2.1.5 Team Representative in a Working Group

An individual is a Team representative in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • W3C management has designated the individual as a Working Group participant, and
  • the individual is in Good Standing.
6.2.1.6 Team Representative in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, an individual is a Team representative in an Interest Group when so designated by W3C management.

6.2.1.7 Good Standing in a Working Group

Participation in a Working Group on an ongoing basis implies a serious commitment to the charter, including all of the following:

  • attending most meetings of the Working Group.
  • providing deliverables or drafts of deliverables in a timely fashion.
  • being familiar with the relevant documents of the Working Group, including minutes of past meetings.
  • following discussions on relevant mailing list(s).

When the Chair and the Team Contact agree, the Chair MAY declare that a participant is no longer in Good Standing (henceforth called "Bad Standing"). If there is disagreement between the Chair and the Team Contact about standing, the Director determines the participant's standing. The Chair MAY declare a Team participant to be in Bad Standing, but it is clearly preferable for the Chair, Team participant, and W3C management to resolve issues internally.

A participant MAY be declared in Bad Standing in any of the following circumstances:

  • the individual has missed more than one of the last three distributed meetings.
  • the individual has missed more than one of the last three face-to-face meetings.
  • the individual has not provided deliverables in a timely fashion twice in sequence.
  • the individual has not followed the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information to the rest of the group.

Although all participants representing an organization SHOULD attend all meetings, attendance by one representative of an organization satisfies the meeting attendance requirement for all representatives of the organization.

The above criteria MAY be relaxed if the Chair and Team Contact agree that doing so will not set back the Working Group. For example, the attendance requirement can be relaxed for reasons of expense (e.g., cost of travel) or scheduling (for example, an exceptional teleconference is scheduled at 3:00 a.m. local time for the participant). It is the responsibility of the Chair and Team Contact to apply criteria for Good Standing consistently.

When a participant risks losing Good Standing, the Chair and Team Contact are expected to discuss the matter with the participant and the participant's Advisory Committee representative (or W3C management for the Team) before declaring the participant in Bad Standing.

The Chair declares a participant in Bad Standing by informing the participant's Advisory Committee representative and the participant of the decision. If the Advisory Committee representative and Chair differ in opinion, the Advisory Committee representative MAY ask the Director to confirm or deny the decision. Invited experts declared in Bad Standing MAY appeal to the Director.

The Chair and Team Contact restore Good Standing and SHOULD do so when the individual in Bad Standing satisfies the above criteria. The Chair MUST inform the individual's Advisory Committee representative of any change in standing.

6.2.2 Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development

The Team MUST notify the Advisory Committee when a charter for a new Working Group or Interest Group is in development. The suggestions for building support around an Activity Proposal apply to charters as well.

W3C MAY begin work on a Working Group or Interest Group charter at any time. A Working Group or Interest Group MUST be part of an approved Activity.

6.2.3 Advisory Committee Review of a Working Group or Interest Group Charter

The Director MUST solicit Advisory Committee Review of every new or substantively modified Working Group or Interest Group charter. The Director is NOT REQUIRED to solicit Advisory Committee Review prior to a charter extension or for minor changes.

The Director's call for review of a substantively modified charter MUST highlight important changes (e.g., regarding deliverables or resource allocation) and include rationale for the changes.

6.2.4 Call for Participation in a Working Group or Interest Group

After Advisory Committee Review of a Working Group or Interest Group charter, the Director MAY issue a Call for Participation to the Advisory Committee. For a new group, this announcement officially creates the group. The announcement MUST include a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), and the name of the Team Contact.

After a Call for Participation, any Member representatives and invited expertsMUST be designated (or re-designated).

Advisory Committee representatives MAYappeal creation or substantive modification of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.

6.2.5 Working Group and Interest Group Charter Extension

To extend a Working Group or Interest Group charter with no other substantive modifications, the Director announces the extension to the Advisory Committee. The announcement MUST indicate the new duration, which MUST NOT exceed the duration of the Activity to which the group belongs. The announcement MUST also include rationale for the extension, a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), the name of the Team Contact, and instructions for joining the group.

After a charter extension, Advisory Committee representatives and the Chair are NOT REQUIRED to re-designate Member representatives and invited experts.

Advisory Committee representatives MAYappeal the extension of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.

6.2.6 Working Group and Interest Group Charters

A Working Group or Interest Group charter MUST include all of the following information.

  • The group's mission (e.g., develop a technology or process, review the work of other groups);
  • The scope of the group's work and criteria for success;
  • The duration of the group (typically from six months to two years);
  • The nature of any deliverables (technical reports, reviews of the deliverables of other groups, or software), expected milestones, and the process for the group participants to approve the release of these deliverables (including public intermediate results). A charter is NOT REQUIRED to include the schedule for a review of another group's deliverables;
  • Any dependencies by groups within or outside of W3C on the deliverables of this group. For any dependencies, the charter MUST specify the mechanisms for communication about the deliverables;
  • Any dependencies of this group on other groups within or outside of W3C. For example, one group's charter might specify that another group is expected to review a technical report before it can become a Recommendation. For any dependencies, the charter MUST specify when required deliverables are expected from the other groups. The charter SHOULD set expectations about how coordination with those groups will take place; see the section on liaisons with other organizations. Finally, the charter SHOULD specify expected conformance to the deliverables of the other groups;
  • The level of confidentiality of the group's proceedings and deliverables;
  • IPR disclosure requirements (see W3C's IPR policy);
  • Meeting mechanisms and expected frequency;
  • Communication mechanisms to be employed within the group, between the group and the rest of W3C, and with the general public;
  • An estimate of the expected time commitment from participants;
  • The expected level of involvement by the Team (e.g., to track developments, write and edit technical reports, develop code, or organize pilot experiments).

An Interest Group charter MAY specify that the only requirement for participation (by anyone) in the Interest Group is subscription to the Interest Group mailing list. This type of Interest Group MAY have public participants.

A charter MAY include additional voting procedures, but those procedures MUST NOT conflict with the voting requirements of the Process Document.

A charter MAY include provisions other than those required by this document. The charter SHOULD highlight whether additional provisions impose constraints beyond those of the W3C Process Document (e.g., limits on the number of individuals in a Working Group who represent the same Member organization or group of related Members).

6.2.7 Working Group "Heartbeat" Requirement

When a Working Group has one or more technical reports in the Recommendation Track process that is not in an end state, at least every three months the group MUST publish a new draft of at least one of them on the W3C technical reports page [PUB11]. Each Working Group SHOULD publish a new draft of each active technical report at least every three months.

In exceptional cases, the Chair MAY ask the Director to be excused from this publication requirement. However, in this case, the Working Group MUST issue a public status report with rationale why a new draft has not been published.

There are several reasons for this Working Group "heartbeat" requirement:

  • To promote public accountability;
  • To encourage Working Groups to keep moving forward, and to incorporate their decisions into readable public documents. People cannot be expected to read several months of a group's mailing list archive to understand where the group stands;
  • To notify interested parties of updated work in familiar a place such as the W3C home page and list of technical reports.

6.2.8 Working Group and Interest Group Closure

A Working Group or Interest Group charter specifies a duration for the group. The Director, subject to appeal by Advisory Committee representatives, MAY close a group prior to the date specified in the charter in any of the following circumstances:

  • There are insufficient resources to produce chartered deliverables or to maintain the group, according to priorities established within W3C.
  • The group produces chartered deliverables ahead of schedule.
  • The Activity to which the group belongs terminates.

The Director closes a Working Group or Interest Group by announcement to the Advisory Committee.

6.3 Coordination Groups

W3C Activities interact in many ways. There are dependencies between groups within the same Activity or in different Activities. There are also dependencies between W3C Activities and the activities of other organizations. Examples of dependencies include the use by one technology of another being developed elsewhere, scheduling constraints between groups, and the synchronization of publicity for the announcement of deliverables. Coordination Groups are created to manage dependencies so that issues are resolved fairly and the solutions are consistent with W3C's mission and results.

Where a Coordination Group's scope covers two groups with unresolved disputes or tensions, it is the first locus of resolution of these disputes.

6.3.1 Coordination Group Participation Requirements

There are four types participants in a Coordination Group: the Chair, the Chair of each coordinated group (to promote effective communication among the groups), invited experts (e.g., liaisons to groups inside or outside W3C), and Team representatives (including the Team Contact). The requirements for invited expert participation are the same as for an invited expert in a Working Group.

Coordination Group participants MUST follow the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information to the rest of the group.

There are no Good Standing requirements for Coordination Group participation; regular participation in a relevant Coordination Group is one of the roles of a group Chair [MEM14].

6.3.2 Coordination Group Creation and Closure

The Director creates or modifies a Coordination Group by sending the Coordination Group charter to the Advisory Committee. A Coordination Group MAY be created as part of an Activity Proposal (for example to coordinate other groups in the Activity or to draw up charters of future groups), or during the life of an Activity when dependencies arise. A Coordination Group MAY operate as part of several W3C Activities.

A Coordination Group SHOULD close when there is no longer a perceived need for coordination.

6.3.3 Coordination Group Charters

A Coordination Group charter MUST include all of the following information:

  • The group's mission;
  • The scope of the group's work, including the names of coordinated groups and contact information for those groups;
  • Any dependencies by groups within or outside of W3C on this group;
  • Any dependencies of this group on other groups within or outside of W3C; see the section on liaisons with other organizations.
  • The level of confidentiality of the group's proceedings;
  • IPR disclosure requirements (see W3C's IPR policy);
  • Meeting mechanisms and expected frequency;
  • Communication mechanisms to be employed within the group, between the group and the rest of W3C, and with the general public;
  • An estimate of the expected time commitment from participants;
  • The expected level of involvement by the Team.

A charter MAY include additional voting procedures, but those procedures MUST NOT conflict with the voting requirements of the Process Document.

A charter MAY include provisions other than those required by this document. The charter SHOULD highlight whether additional provisions impose constraints beyond those of the W3C Process Document.

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