Robert’s Rules for Reports and Recommendations

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP

Robert’s Rules is very specific about what you should do with reports and recommendations. Consider yourself a prisoner of your words. When the time comes to present a report to your organization, be sure you use terms correctly and in the proper context — you don’t want to do or say something you wish you hadn’t! To avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble and confusion, keep the following points in mind:

  • Reports are received when they’re presented. Motions to receive reports after they’re read make no sense because the report has already been received. The only time a motion to receive a report makes sense, or is even in order, is when you want a report to be presented at some time other than when reports are in order according to your agenda.
  • Adopting (or accepting) a report from officers, boards, and committees is problematic. The odds are good that you don’t want to adopt the whole report. If anything, you probably want to adopt only some of the motions or resolutions recommended in the report. The only time it really makes sense to adopt a report is when you want to endorse the entire contents of a report that was prepared for adoption as the report of the group.

For example, when a board makes its annual report to the assembly, it is always adopted by the board that presents it. But if the parent assembly wants to publish that report in the organization’s name, the assembly must adopt it to make it the report of the entire organization. Only when the assembly adopts the annual report of its board does that report become an official report of the assembly.

Adopting (or accepting) recommendations rather than taking up the recommended questions (or motions or resolutions) can create considerable confusion. If a committee recommends a resolution’s adoption, you don’t want to consider a motion to adopt the recommendation — the question instead is directly on the adoption of the resolution. Think about the trouble you run into if you need to amend the resolution: Just how do you amend a resolution if the motion is to adopt the recommendation?