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CPSR Working Groups FAQ

Working Groups
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

CPSR Working Groups FAQ

See the Working Groups/Topics Page for a list of Working Groups.

Q1. What is a CPSR Working Group?

CPSR Working Groups are groups of five or more CPSR members (and other invited people) that work together to develop ideas, issues, conversations, actions, and projects that are related to CPSR's mission. Working groups provide their members with relative autonomy while allowing for collaboration with the national organization and with other working groups.

Q2. What roles can Working Groups play?

There is a wide range of important issues that face us today as computer professionals and computer users - too many for a top-down, traditional organization to manage. Working Groups provide a way in which CPSR members can work in teams to analyze issues and develop action strategies. We feel that CPSR Working Groups can play important roles in developing responsible technology in the future.

Q3. What can Working Groups do?

Working Groups can do essentially anything (with some restrictions - listed below) that is consonant with the CPSR mission. This could include:

  • hold public meetings
  • launch community networks
  • write articles, editorials, or books
  • develop web sites, electronic (or other) periodicals
  • develop software
  • write white papers
  • provide computer training to non-profits or activists
  • work with community members or organizations to develop community projects
  • submit written or oral testimony
  • serve as consultants on other projects and studies
  • write letters to business leaders and elected officials

Q4. What can CPSR do for the Working Groups?

CPSR would like to help support Working Groups in many ways. At a minimum we will help establish mailing lists and web pages for each Working Group. We also want to help support the Working Groups in other ways such as having them put reports in PING! CPSR's membership newsletter.

Q5. What responsibilities do Working Groups have?

Working Groups have some responsibilities to CPSR . The first is that they communicate with the CPSR office at least semi-annually through a designated liaison. The CPSR board would like to know what's going on in the groups insofar as we may be able to help in the process. These groups should communicate with the other Working Groups and with the CPSR Board as much as possible to exploit synergy and reduce any duplication of effort. Additionally, the CPSR office must be involved in any situation where money is being transfered. This is because CPSR is legally responsible for CPSR funds.

Q6. What restrictions do Working Groups have?

Working groups can publish and make statements so long as they're clear that it is being done in the name of the working group itself, rather than representing an official position of the national organization. Statements or actions done in the name of the national organization must--by law and practice--be approved by the CPSR Board. Also certain activities - like lobbying - must be kept within strict guidelines as well.

Q7. What Working Groups exist?

Below is a list of likely themes (but many more are possible!) based on current and historical activities that CPSR members have initiated. Groups may be long-lived and devoted to a theme (e.g. civil liberties) or short-lived and based upon a single event (e.g. a workshop or writing an op-ed). Working groups may be based on a specific location and related to the activities of a single CPSR chapter. Other working groups can be 'virtual' and the members rarely, if ever, meet face-to-face.

Q8. How can I start a CPSR Working Group?

The first thing to do is to discuss the idea with other members . The CPSR Office acts as a clearinghouse for Working Group ideas, so please contact with your new working group idea(s). At least five CPSR members must be willing to serve. Submit a petition that contains the name of the Working Group, the chair, the names of the members, and the purpose of the Working Group, to CPSR through the mail, by fax, or via e-mail). One of the first activities of a working group should be to define its goals and write a mission statement.

This page last updated: September 17, 2001 by Susan Evoy

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Created before October 2004

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