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Frequently Asked Questions about General Service

What is a General Service Representative?

The General Service Representatives (GSRs) are the very foundation of our general service structure. The GSR makes a group’s voice heard at district meetings, at area assemblies, and eventually at the General Service Conference. The GSR is responsible for bringing back to the group Conference Actions that affect AA’s unity, health, and growth. The GSR is responsible for making monthly district meetings and attending two Area 51 Assemblies. This ensures that groups are fully informed about all issues that affect AA as a whole. They will be the voice of the group conscious. Only when a GSR keeps the group informed, communicates the group conscious, and informs the groups of pertinent information. The pamphlet “G.S.R. General Service Representative – Your group’s link to A.A. as a whole” is available from the General Service Office for more information on service responsibilities.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Current experience indicates that many groups provide financial support for their general service representatives to attend service functions.

What is a District Committee Member?

The District Committee Member (DCM) is an essential link between the group GSR and the area delegate to the General Service Conference. As leader of the district committee, made up of all GSRs in the district, the DCM is exposed to the group conscience of that district. As a member of the area committee, they are able to pass on the district’s thinking to the delegate and the committee. (The pamphlet “Your DCM,” available from the General Service Office, provides basic information on this service job.) The DCM should establish a relationship with all groups in the district.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Current experience indicates that many districts provide financial support for their DCMs to attend service functions. Invariably, this pays off in increased activity, interest, and group participation.

What is an Alternate District Committee Member?

The Alternate DCM is a backup for the DCM. If the DCM resigns or is unable to serve for any reason, the alternate steps in. Usually, the alternate is elected at the same time as the DCM and by the same procedure. Alternate DCM’s should be encouraged to assist, participate, and share in the DCM’s responsibilities at district and area meetings. They are also responsible for creating relationships with groups.

What is a Local Committee Member?

A large district could divide itself into smaller districts (often called subdistricts or local districts), each electing a Local Committee Member. Depending on area practice, these LCMs may or may not be voting members of the area committee and may or may not hold regular meetings with the GSRs they serve. They work with the DCM in establishing relationships with district groups. Mainly, they visit groups and help update registration.

What are the responsibilities of the Treasurer?

The Treasurer is responsible for the financial health of the district. The treasurer does the banking and gives financial reports to the district quarterly, with mini updates in between. In most cases, the treasurer is responsible for encouraging contribution support for district, area and GSO services.

What is the Correctional Facilities Committee?

The purpose of a Correctional Facilities Committee (CFC) is to coordinate the work of individual AA members and groups who are interested in carrying our message of recovery to alcoholics behind the walls. The chair is the face of AA for the district(s) they serve. They work with facilities to ensure all who participate have gone through the necessary requirements for that facility. They coordinate with groups and individuals the place, time, and date for service work. They also work with area on mail communication and “bridging the gap.” Meeting as a committee is determined by the committee chair.

What is the Cooperation with the Professional Community Committee?

Members of CPC work with the professional community to provide information about AA. This community includes health care professionals, educators, members of the clergy, lawyers, social workers, union leaders, and industrial managers, as well as those working in the field of alcoholism. Pamphlets are provided with information about where we are, what we are, what we can do, and what we cannot do. The chair is responsible for keeping track of what professionals have received information and locate new openings in the professional community who may like to have information. The chair’s committee helps with distribution of materials and locating new openings in the professional community who would like to receive information. Meeting as a committee is determined by the chair.

What is the Public Information Committee?

The purpose of PI service work is to provide accurate AA information to the public. The PI committee visits schools, businesses and community meetings to share the message. They provide pamphlets and materials provided by GSO. The committee works with local media to provide AA public service announcements. They educate the general public in regard to Traditions of anonymity, singleness of purpose and non-affiliation. The chair is the face of AA for the district and establishes relationships with schools, businesses, and community groups. They coordinate with their committee to do lectures, operate booths at health fairs and find new ways to get the message to the community. Meeting as a committee is determined by the committee chair.

What is the Accessibility Committee?

Accessibilities Committees assist AA members who have a variety of challenges in accessing the AA message in AA meetings, Twelve Step work and other AA services. The members of an Accessibility Committee work to take the message to those of the fellowship who have difficulty hearing, seeing and/or are unable to get to meetings. They also help groups become aware of the accessibility needs of meeting attendees. This committee is challenging since the needs of our members can be as simple as setting up a room for people who are hard of hearing, having chairs with arms to help anyone with difficulty getting in and out of chairs, to finding an ASL interpreter or helping connect those with sight problems connect with the community. It is this group that helps bring awareness to the needs of our fellowship to groups, districts, area, and GSO. The chair is responsible for coordinating and researching the needs of the community. This can be delegated to committee members. They work closely with CPC/PI to help professional and community groups become aware of what is available for those with accessibility issues. Meeting as a committee is determined by the committee chair.

What is the Treatment Facilities Committee?

Treatment Facilities committees are formed to coordinate the work of individual AA members and groups who are interested in carrying our message of recovery to alcoholics in treatment facilities. This involves keeping track of places and needs of each individual treatment facility. They are responsible for ensuring those interested in service are properly oriented and understand the rules of the facility. The committee also helps with “bridging the gap” for people who are about to leave treatment and need a “bridge” into the AA Community. The Chair is the face of AA for the district and would be the person who makes contact with treatment facilities should there be a need. Meeting as a committee is determined by the chair.

What is a Grapevine Representative?

Grapevine Representatives (GvRs) and La Viña Representatives (RLVs) perform a service for AA members by bringing them our meeting in print, the AA Grapevine and La Viña. Representatives are engaged in practical, hands-on work. It is their job to help members and groups become aware of GV and LN. They encourage individuals and groups to subscribe to the magazine. They help make the GV and LN available for the fellowship. They are present at all Intergroup and District functions. Meetings as a committee will be determined by the chair.

What is the Web & Tech Committee?

Web & Tech Committee members maintain the district website and other technology used by the district. The Web & Tech Committee Chair is the liaison between District 23 and the webmaster. The chair directs the webmaster. Committee members are trained by the webmaster to post and edit content on the website and use of other technology. Some technical skills are required to perform these changes. Very important and ongoing tasks are to bring awareness to the AA community of the website, to be a spokesperson for the website and to be a contact person for submitting content for the website.

What is the structure of the General Service Conference?
  1. THE GROUP: The communication process starts with the group, which lets its group conscience — for or against change, approval or disapproval of a proposed action — be known to its elected general service representative (GSR). The GSR (see Chapter Two) makes sure the group’s wishes are heard and fully considered at the district and area levels, and that they are part of the delegate’s thinking at the Conference. After each annual Conference, the GSR is responsible for making sure that group members are informed about what went on at the Conference and made aware of the full range of Advisory Actions (see Chapter Seven).
  2. THE DISTRICT: Groups are organized into districts, collections of groups located near one another. The GSRs of these groups select district committee members (DCMs), who become part of the area committee (see Chapter Three for more on the district).
  3. THE AREA: The U.S./Canada Conference is divided into 93 areas, made up of a state or province, part of a state or province, or in some cases parts of more than one state or province. At the area assembly, a delegate is elected to represent the area at the annual Conference meeting (see Chapters Four and Five for more on the area and its activities).
  4. THE CONFERENCE AND THE DELEGATE: At the annual Conference meeting, matters of importance to the Fellowship as a whole are first considered and discussed by one of the standing Conference committees, then brought to the full Conference in the form of committee recommendations. All Conference members then have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the recommendations before they are voted on. Committee recommendations that are approved become Conference Advisory Actions (see Chapters Seven and Eight for more information on the Conference).After the Conference, the delegate reports back to the area, working through DCMs and group GSRs. At the same time, any Conference Advisory Actions that were referred to the trustees are sent to either the appropriate trustees’ committee, GSO, or the AA Grapevine for implementation.Membership in the Conference consists of area delegates, trustees, directors of AA World Services and the Grapevine, and AA staff members of the General Service Office and the Grapevine. Traditionally, area delegates make up at least two-thirds of the Conference body.
  5. THE TRUSTEES: The General Service Board (see Chapter Nine) is made up of 21 trustees. It meets quarterly, and its actions are reported to the Fellowship through quarterly reports and also in the Final Conference Report. The board’s two operating corporations, AAWorld Services, Inc. and The AA Grapevine, Inc., report in the same way (see Chapter Ten). AAW.S. is the corporation that employs GSO personnel, directs GSO services, and is responsible for book and pamphlet publishing. The Grapevine corporate board employs the magazine’s editorial and business staffs and publishes AA’s monthly magazine and related materials.

Reprinted in part from the AA Service Manual and AA Guidelines with permission of AA World Services, Inc.

What is an AA Group Inventory?

Many groups periodically hold a “group inventory meeting” to evaluate how well they are fulfilling their primary purpose: to help alcoholics recover through AA’s suggested Twelve Steps of recovery. Some groups take inventory by examining our Twelve Traditions, one at a time, to determine how well they are living up to these principles. The following questions, compiled from AA shared experience, may be useful in arriving at an informed group conscience. Groups will probably wish to add questions of their own:

    • What is the basic purpose of our group?
    • What more can our group do to carry the message?
    • Is our group attracting alcoholics from different backgrounds? Are we seeing a good cross-section of our community, including those with special needs?
    • Do new members stick with us, or does the turnover seem excessive? If so, why? What can we as a group do to retain members?
    • Do we emphasize the importance of sponsorship? How effectively? How can we do it better?
    • Are we careful to preserve the anonymity of our group members and other AAs outside the meeting rooms? Do we also leave what they share at meetings behind?
    • Does our group emphasize to all members the value of keeping up with the kitchen, set-up, cleanup and other housekeeping chores that are essential for our Twelfth Step efforts?
    • Are all members given the opportunity to speak at meetings and to participate in other group activities?
    • Mindful that holding office is a great responsibility not to be viewed as the outcome of a popularity contest, are we choosing our officers with care?
    • Are we doing all we can to provide an attractive and accessible meeting place?
    • Does our group do its fair share toward participating in the purpose of AA—as it relates to our Three Legacies of Recovery, Unity, and Service?
    • What has our group done lately to bring the AA message to the attention of professionals in the community—the physicians, clergy, court officials,28 educators, and others who are often the first to see alcoholics in need of help?
    • How is our group fulfilling its responsibility to the Seventh Tradition?

Quoted from “The AA Group” pamphlet (Pg. 27 printed, Pg. 28 in PDF) →