SPE Realigns Standing Committees

The SPE Board of Directors has approved a realignment of SPE’s standing committees to clarify the scope, nature, and reporting relationships of these groups. This realignment also sheds light on possible volunteer opportunities for members who want to get involved in these groups, which are essential to the activities and outreach of SPE.

New Board Committee Ties

Member Programs
Engineering Professionalism
Education and Accreditation
Young Professionals
Student Development
Soft Skills
Distinguished Lecturer
Section Activities
Awards Committees (15)

Communications and Knowledge Sharing
Energy Information
Books Development
Editorial Review
JPT Editorial
Oil and Gas Reserves
TCCC/OCAC Integration

Technical Programs and Meetings
Global Training
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition Program
Forum Series Coordinating

The Board of Directors took the action at its March meeting at the recommendation of an SPE Board Finance and Strategy Committee task force.  “The realignment of the standing committees follows the change in the board committees last year and helps to better focus activities on the strategic plan,” said SPE President Jeff Spath. “This will also give members who want to volunteer a clear understanding of the opportunities, which is vital to SPE.”

SPE had 42 standing committees that were responsible for a number of important SPE activities and which reported to the Board of Directors. Because of the growth in the number of these groups and the fact that their charters had not been reviewed in more than a decade, the Finance and Strategy Committee appointed a six-person task force to review the current standing committee structure, including the charge of each committee, its ongoing contribution, reporting relationships, whether some should be merged to gain efficiencies, and the process for sunsetting committees.

This Standing Committee Governance Framework Task Force made six proposals to the SPE Board of Directors, all of which were approved. The recommendations were that the Board of Directors should:

  • Establish a consistent set of definitions for these collaboration networks: standing committees, technical sections, task forces, work groups, advisory committees, and councils.
  • Adopt the following work flow when a recommendation for a new group is made by a board member or officer:
    • Establish a board task force, accountable to the Board Finance and Strategy Committee, to study the focus area identified or endorsed by the board, and make recommendations for next steps.
    • If warranted, establish a standing committee or technical section depending on the task force recommendation.
    • Board members and technical sections may consider the need for temporary work groups as appropriate to support work efforts focused on specific issues or challenges.
  • Transition the following standing committees to technical sections, with the noted board technical director liaisons: Carbon Capture and Storage Committee (tied to Research and Development Technical Director), and the Research and Development Committee (tied to Technical Director Chairperson)
  • Transition the following standing committees to task forces reportable to the Finance and Strategy Committee: Sustainability Committee and Talent Council.
  • Integrate the following standing committees with the understanding that charters will be revised accordingly and endorsed by the appropriate Board committee.
    • Integrate the Technical Communities Coordinating Committee and Online Communities Advisory Committee.
    • Transition the 25-Year and Century Club committees to subcommittee status under the existing Membership Standing Committee.
    • Transition the US Engineering Registration and Petroleum Engineering Certification committees to subcommittee status under the existing Engineering Professionalism Standing Committee.
    • Transition the Forum Series-West and Forum Series-East committees to subcommittee status under the existing Forum Series Coordinating Committee.

The New Alignment

Standing Committee

  • Permanent need for function
  • Defined function remains same year-on-year
  • Multiyear service terms (3-4 years)
  • Supports ongoing program or activity
  • SPE President-elect appoints chairs and members
  • Consists of members at large
  • Can form subcommittees, as necessary
  • Reassess need on 5-year cycle

Technical Section

  • Grouping of members interested in specific technical topic
  • Individuals are free to join (vs. being appointed) 
  • Initiated by members, endorsed by Technical Director, and approved by SPE Board
  • Liaise with appropriate Technical Director or Technical Director Chair
  • Reassess need on 5-year cycle



Task Force

  • Initiated by Board officers; approved by Finance and Strategy Committee
  • Fixed scope and time frame
  • Defined deliverables
  • Consists of Board members and invited others

Work Group

  • Initiated by Board member or Board committee
  • Fixed scope and time frame
  • Open to all members and invited others
  • Board approval not required

Advisory Committee

  • Set up to provide advice/input, as needed
  • Established by Board member or Board committee
  • Recommended length of service 3 years


  • National or regional entity
  • Collaboration vehicle for SPE sections

Several items are still under discussion, including a pilot to integrate the Young Professionals Coordinating and Student Development Standing Committees; assessing the charter of the Soft Skills Council; assessing the demographic balance of committee leadership teams, as well as term limits and sunset provisions; and evaluating individual awards by the technical directors.

SPE Realigns Standing Committees

01 July 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 7



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