'con' of separately incorporating GSO

On October 23, 1993, two presentations were made to the General Service Board by two Regional Trustees'; one from the Northeast Region and the other from the Southwest Region. They were the pro's and con's of 'Separately Incorporating GSO."
The first report, on the 'con' of separately incorporating GSO is as follows:

When we talk about the relationships between the various boards, we are talking about the General Service Board, Grapevine Board and A.A.W.S. Board. The General Service Board is the chief service arm of the Conference and is essentially custodial in its character. The General Service Board is an incorporated trusteeship, composed of alcoholics and non-alcoholics, who elect their own successors, these choices being subject to the approval of the Conference or a committee thereof. Excepting for decisions upon matters of policy, finance, or A.A. Tradition liable to seriously affect A.A. as a whole, the General Service Board has entire freedom of action in the routine conduct of the policy and business affairs of the A.A. service organizations and may name suitable committees and elect directors to its subsidiary corporate service entities in pursuance of this purpose. The General Service Board is primarily responsible for the financial and policy integrity of its subsidiary services: A.A. World Services, Inc. and A.A. Grapevine, Inc.

The board of trustees is responsible for the G.S.O. and the Grapevine and it takes care of it's administrative duties through these two operating corporations. One is A.A.W.S. Inc., which handles world services or general services, and the publishing of books and pamphlets. The other is the A.A. Grapevine. While the General Service Board "owns" both of these service corporations, it does not interfere with the daily operation of either corporation. The General Service Board recognizes its own ultimate responsibility for seeing that both operate in the best interests of Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole.

Are there problems with our present structure? Is it time for a structure change? Does the answer to any real or perceived difficulties need this drastic of an action? Would a structure change of any sort be for the good of A.A. as a whole? At this item, I see no reason for a structure change, as whatever perceived difficulties we have can be handled with love and action. In the present structure, any inefficiencies are tested by Alcoholics Anonymous' adherence to tradition which is truly a blessing to our Fellowship.
 Some of the difficulties that were apparent in our discussion were: Communication problems between corporate boards, staff and the fellowship; more efficient mechanisms for the GSB to oversee services; more defined expectations by the GSB for corporate boards and GSO.

In 1960, at the tenth General Service Conference, Bill talked about the importance of communication to our fellowship and we're still looking at the importance of communication in 1993. Are both the Grapevine and A.A.W.S. reporting in a timely, efficient manner? To the Fellowship? To the GSB? To and with each other as Trustees, Directors and staff? Since there are no secrets, are we falling down in communication on any certain level? In 2013, will there be a sharing session on Board Relationships and communication problems? If I was a betting person I'd give you 2-1 odds there would be.

Since I've never been a non-trustee director, it's often been a problem for me to remember that they don't sit on the General Service Board, and they are slighted, in my opinion, on vital information and communication. What I have found helpful is to ask a General Service Trustee, who's been a director, to please alert me to what might be falling through the cracks, as far as communication between AAWS and the GSB. Another area that we are falling down on in our communications was with the non-trustee directors on the Grapevine not receiving our AAWS minutes. They now are receiving them.

The General Service Board can only find and use better mechanisms for overseeing services if each and everyone of us is doing our jobs. The General Service Board, meeting four times a year, cannot be involved at the levels necessary to make proper and timely decisions. Proper and timely reporting to the GSB, by both corporate boards and each committee, would enhance and improve communications and alert everyone to any deviation from policy, budget, or traditions. This would ask each of us, staff or director, trustee or consultant, to look at ourselves and whatever service position we're serving in and ask ourselves some questions. Am I doing my very best as a trustee on the GSB? On the AAWS Board? On the Grapevine Board? On my assignment at the office? What can I do better? Do I spend my time tearing down or building up? Am I open to new ideas that aren't my own? Do I ask God, as I understand Him, to guide me in my work for the fellowship? Do I ask for an open mind (some one like me has to...everyday)? And the most important questions...Do I trust those who represent me on Boards or committees I don't work on? Without trust in each other, we really have no workable way to solve any problems or difficulties that we have now or will have.

There is a saying, "If it isn't broken...don't fix it." Is our structure, the way it is today, unworkable? Would separately incorporating the General Service Office better facilitate fellowship needs? Today AA Publishing is mostly a business operation, as most of our books have already been written. Since very little creative publishing is done, there is no apparent need to separate publishing from the GSO. In fact Bill talks about this in Concept XI.

We are told that just as the Conference can never have any dangerous degree of human power, another sort of authority and power we cannot be without: the spiritual power that flows from activities and attitudes of truly humble, unselfish and dedicated AA servants. This is our real power and as long as we remember from who our power comes, we will be doing our best at whatever job we're doing today.

It is vital for all of us to be most careful that we don't become complaisant; that we aren't willing to live with the good instead of striving for the best. All three boards must serve the fellowship in love and trust, striving always to increase the spiritual gift of Alcoholics Anonymous for all the generations who will follow us.

We're all in this together. No board is better than another, no committee more important than another, no general service higher priority than another. Talking, sharing, and listening will improve our relationships with each other and listening to the informed group conscience will always enhance our abilities to serve the Fellowship.

Bill reminded us at the eleventh GSC, that societies that left their mark of goodness on time preserved their sense of history not because of pride or glory, it was the substance of the learning of the experience of the past. If we forget our past, then we will most assuredly repeat it. As long as we remember where we came from, we will always strive to perform our duty to enhance the relationships of all the boards. Thanks you for letting me serve,