New Project Criteria


I.  Role of Scope and Program Committee 

The Scope and Program Committee is responsible for soliciting and evaluating proposals for new uniform or model acts. Proposals for new projects come from many sources, including individual commissioners, other ULC committees or editorial boards responsible for particular areas of law, outside stakeholder groups, and individuals with an interest in law reform. These proposals are vital for the ULC’s work, as they form the basis for the organization’s study and drafting efforts—and thus for enactment efforts for completed acts as well.

The Scope and Program Committee’s work generally proceeds through the following steps:

·       When a proposal for a study committee is received, one member of the committee is assigned as the liaison for the proposal and is responsible for leading the Scope and Program Committee’s discussion on the topic.

·       After considering a proposal, the committee makes a recommendation to the Executive Committee regarding whether a study committee (or, if the recommendation is to proceed without a study committee, a drafting committee) should be established.

·       If a study committee is established, the Scope member assigned as a liaison should observe the study committee’s work as much as possible and should help ensure that the study committee considers the issues identified in Part IV below and addresses them in its final report.

Scope members are also assigned as liaisons to editorial boards and monitoring committees, to assist those groups in understanding what is expected in proposals for study or drafting committees (and to lead the discussion of such proposals in Scope meetings). As liaisons, Scope members should communicate with the chairs and attend meetings, to the extent possible.

Scope members should also make efforts to identify promising topics for new ULC projects and to encourage others to submit proposals.

II.  Creation of a Study Committee 

In assessing a proposal to create a new study committee, the Scope and Program Committee should consider the merits of the proposal and the ULC’s current and anticipated workload.

On the merits of the proposal, to ensure efficient use of our resources, each study committee should have at least a plausible prospect of resulting in a persuasive recommendation to move to a drafting committee under the criteria listed in Part V below. Particularly for emerging areas of law, significant uncertainty regarding prospects for uniformity should be considered, but should not preclude a decision to study a topic.

On the workload, a study committee consumes significantly fewer resources than a drafting committee (e.g., no in-person meetings, a smaller reporter honorarium, and less commissioner and staff time). Moreover, a restricted number of study committees results in a limited pool of options for creating drafting committees and higher odds that low-quality projects will proceed to drafting. Thus, a significantly higher number of study committees than drafting committees is desirable—e.g., creating 12-15 new study committees per year, from which the best five or six can proceed to drafting. In considering whether to establish a study committee, the existing state of the pipeline is relevant. If, based on the set of other study committees already underway, the ULC is unlikely to have a sufficient set of options to choose among in establishing drafting committees, the need to create new study committees is more pressing and might weigh in favor of taking more chances on topics that may not seem as promising.

A proposal for a study committee that is received from an editorial board or monitoring committee is often the product of greater initial research and analysis than many other proposals and thus would typically receive greater consideration than a less well-developed proposal. Less developed proposals for a study committee may be referred to an editorial board or monitoring committee for review and development.

III.   Monitoring the Progress of Study Committees 

Study Committees normally can complete their work in a year or less. The Scope and Program Committee should keep itself apprised of the work of in-progress study committees so that it can:

               *   Apprise study committees of additional legal or policy issues that need to be addressed before the study committees submit their final reports. 

*    Advise study committees on their stakeholder engagement efforts and the need to reach out to diverse stakeholders reflecting a range of perspectives.

*    Gauge the relative prospects of various study committees, in terms of which ones are more likely to result in promising drafting projects.

IV.  Study Committee Reports 

The final report by a study committee should include at least the following elements:

·       An explanation of the perceived problem or issue that the proposed act would address.

·       A summary of existing state law (statutory, common law, or other) on the topic, as well as recent state and federal legislative activity.

·       An explanation of why the project should (or should not) proceed to drafting, including expectations regarding enactment prospects and whether other important goals weigh in favor of drafting (e.g., need for uniformity, prospects for shaping the law, preserving traditional areas of state governance, and other benefits to the public).

·       The main counterarguments and summaries of the views of any dissenting committee members.

·       If the study committee recommends the establishment of a drafting committee:

o   An analysis of what a uniform or model act would cover (e.g., why it should address certain subtopics but not others, without attempting to draft the act or resolve key policy questions that should be left for a drafting committee); and

o   A concise one-paragraph proposal for the mandate for the drafting committee, including a summary of the subtopics to be included or excluded.

V.  Creation of Drafting Committees

In deciding whether to recommend establishment of a drafting committee, the Scope and Program Committee should consider the extent to which the proposal would:

·       Present the prospect of uniform or widespread adoption, taking into account likely stakeholder support or opposition;

·       Respond to a need in the states for more effective and efficient law;

·       Assist in shaping the law, especially in newly emerging areas;

·       Help to preserve traditional areas of state governance and, relatedly, not become preempted by federal law; and

·       Involve areas of social, economic, or political controversy that would inhibit the success of the project.

The Scope and Program Committee should also consider the other acts that might be read at the annual meetings at which the proposed act would be read—whether those drafting projects have already been approved or might soon be placed on the same timeline (e.g., current study committees). The proposed act should be evaluated in light of the projected pipeline. If the relevant annual meetings can comfortably accommodate an additional project (thus increasing the number of acts that might generate enactment success), the proposal for a drafting committee should be approved if, in comparison with other potential acts for those meetings, it is likely to be the best option available on that timeline. If the relevant annual meetings are projected to be overburdened, the proposal could still be approved if it is particularly promising compared to other projects.

VI.  Designation of an Act as a Uniform or Model Act

The decision to designate an act as a uniform or model act is made by the Executive Committee. An act will be designated as a uniform act if enactment in a large number of states is expected and uniformity of the provisions among the states is a principal objective. If these criteria are not met, the act will be designated as a model act.

Normally, this decision occurs shortly before the act is finalized, most frequently based on a recommendation from the drafting committee. However, the Scope and Program Committee can recommend that the decision be made earlier, such as when the criteria for designation as a uniform act would clearly not be met and a committee is being established specifically to study or draft a model act.