Most commonly asked questions about the IEEE Standards Association, its programs, products, services and processes.

The Role of External Representatives

Learn more about External Representatives, their roles and responsibilities, and how they are appointed.


What is the difference between an External Representative (ER), an informational liaison, & an Owning Board/Committee (OBC)?

An ER is a volunteer who has been appointed by the IEEE SA to represent IEEE on standards matters to an organization, committee, or entity external to IEEE.

An OBC is an IEEE SA board, an IEEE SA committee, or Standards Committee responsible for ensuring that positions taken by an ER represent consensus views of the OBC and the IEEE SA.

An informational liaison serves as a connection between an IEEE SA committee and an external committee acting only as an information conduit. E.g., liaisons between working groups for the purpose of exchanging information.

Do you have to be an IEEE SA member to be an ER?

Yes, the ER is to be an IEEE member of any grade (except Student) and a member of the IEEE SA.

How does a person get selected by an IEEE technical committee to become an ER?

When an IEEE technical committee determines the need for an ER relationship with another organization that is working in a related technical space, it may nominate a qualified person to be considered for appointment by the IEEE SA Standards Board and Board of Governors. The method of nomination is left to the discretion of the IEEE technical committee.

What are the qualifications to become an ER?

  • Scientific and technical expertise (e.g., membership of relevant technical societies) relevant to the scope of operations and activities of the external organization, committee, or entity.
  • Familiarity with the operations and goals of the specific external organization, committee, or entity.
  • The ability to articulate IEEE SA goals, objectives, and activities clearly in the context of the external organization, committee, or entity.
  • Does not have a conflict of interest with respect to the activities of the specific external organization.

Before becoming an ER is there documentation that needs to be submitted?
The following documentation is required:

  • File, with the OBC and IEEE SA Standards Board Secretary, a letter stating your affiliations. This disclosure of affiliation meets the requirements of IEEE SA Standards Board Operations Manual and and shall be signed.
  • File, with the OBC and IEEE SA Standards Board Secretary, a letter of endorsement from each affiliation disclosed. The letter(s) shall document several key factors relative to your position as the ER and is to be signed by both you and an individual who has management responsibility for you for that affiliation. The letter(s) should contain at least the following:
    • Statement of qualification based on expertise in respect to the attributes described above;
    • Statement of support for providing necessary resources (e.g., time, travel expenses to meetings); and
    • Recognition that you are expected to act in accordance with the conditions stated in subclause 7.1.2 of the IEEE SA Operations Manual; in particular that you, when serving as the ER, 'shall act in the best interest of the IEEE SA at all times'.
  • File a completed IEEE Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement with the Secretary of the IEEE SA Standards Board.

How long is the approval process? How will I know if I have been approved?
All ER requests will be considered at the next IEEE SA BOG and SASB meetings following receipt of all information in support of the ER request. Official notification of approval will be sent from the IEEE SA staff.

Is the appointment of an ER on a calendar year basis or by time of appointment?
The OBC can reappoint ERs at the same time that the annual report is due to the IEEE SA BOG and Standards Board.

How long can you serve as an ER?
Each ER shall be appointed for a term of no less than one year, and may be reappointed at the discretion of the OBC. Before an individual can serve as an ER, the IEEE SA BOG shall confirm their appointment, or reappointment, to that position.

How is a current ER replaced? Can I appeal if I am replaced as an ER?
The existing ER should submit a letter to the OBC, resigning from the position. The OBC should submit appropriate documentation to the BOG and SASB for a replacement candidate. Appeals can be brought to the SASB/BOG.

How do I find out if someone is an ER?
The list of approved ERs will be made available on the IEEE SA web site.

Do current ERs get grandfathered?
No. Under the current IEEE SA Operations Manual Clause 7, no existing ERs are granted grandfathering to the ER requirements. All ERs are required to submit appropriate documentation

Is there more than one ER to an external organization? Can one person be an ER to multiple external organizations? How is the relationship ended?
Yes and yes. To end an ER relationship with an external organization, a recommendation from the OBC can be considered by the IEEE SA Board of Governors.


How is an organization notified who their official ER is?
The IEEE SA staff will provide notification on behalf of the Secretary of the IEEE SA BOG.

How should an ER handle a conflict of interest?
Should a situation arise where an ER may serve in a capacity where there is a requirement, or an expectation, that he or she fulfill a duty, fiduciary or otherwise, to another organization (e.g., this includes, but is not limited to, the external organization to which the ER has been appointed to represent the IEEE SA, the employer of the ER, and any organization to which the ER is affiliated), the ER shall recuse him or herself from that issue and report this action back to the OBC. The OBC shall then decide the best course of action to provide the IEEE SA position on the issue to the external organization. Duty to the IEEE SA takes priority, and this is met as a result of the recusal.

Can an ER assign a proxy for meetings or designate their authority to another for a meeting?
No an ER cannot assign a proxy or designate their authority to others.

Can there be more than one OBC to an ER? Can an OBC chair also be an ER?
No there can not be more than one OBC to an ER.

Yes, it is possible for an OBC chair to also be an ER. The chair of an OBC shall not serve as an ER unless an exception is granted by the next higher board/committee upon the request of the OBC. The next higher board/committee may accept or deny the request and, at its discretion, may become the Owning Board/Committee for the purposes of this representation. The next higher board/committee may also grant the exception with such conditions as it believes are necessary to assure that the ER can adequately represent the IEEE SA while serving as chair of the OBC. If the next higher board/committee becomes the OBC for the purposes of this representation, then the ER shall provide the reports described in IEEE SA Operations Manual 7.1.4 to this next higher board/committee.

How often does an ER have to report to the OBC?
Each OBC will determine the appropriate reporting schedule for its ERs, noting that the OBC shall provide an annual report to IEEE SA BOG and SASB.

How are reports and forms collected? When are they provided to the BOG and SASB?
All ER documentation, including OBC reports, can be uploaded via the web. OBCs shall provide annual reports for the December meeting of the BOG/Standards Board.