NASBP Volunteers Making Impacts (and You Can Too!)
If an organization is only as effective as the level of participation of its volunteers, NASBP is on really solid footing. NASBP volunteers are preparing to showcase some of the impressive work that they have in progress at the upcoming Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado at The Broadmoor. Much of the work comes as a result of volunteer participation in committees and in other NASBP groups, such as working and advisory groups. Important dialogues take place in the committee meetings slated for most of the day on Saturday, May 14, but, perhaps even more important, are the times between in-person committee meetings when work advances through conference calls, emails and other communications.
NASBP volunteers are making and will continue to make great strides for the surety industry in a multitude of areas. I want to single out three particular projects in progress to give you a taste of the importance of volunteerism to the well-being and advancement of the industry. Rest assured that these highlighted projects are only a few of the many projects currently underway. I simply do not have the space in this column to expound on the whole spectrum of efforts, such as the many times that member volunteers have directly benefited association advocacy efforts at local, state, and federal levels through contacts, engagement, referrals, subject matter expertise, and other means, or have lent their time and knowledge to being NASBP ambassadors and surety educators to stakeholder groups interested in learning more about surety bonding. However, if you attend the upcoming Government Relations Committee and Industry Relations Committee meetings at The Broadmoor, you will learn precisely about these invaluable contributions. And remember, all NASBP members, affiliates and associates are invited to attend committee meetings, regardless whether a person is a committee member or not, so come one, come all!
The three projects in progress that I choose to highlight involve technology and data standardization, small contractor outreach and information, and education on critical topics for producers and their clients. The Automation and Technology Committee is spearheading an unprecedented effort that promises to alleviate much of the repetitive data entry burden currently placed on surety professionals regarding client data collection and transference. For those attending the Annual Meeting, a presentation will be given about this project, which in fact involves many sub-projects. NASBP is working closely with ACORD to create the first set of ACORD forms to characterize and to standardize bonding processes. Through the Surety Forms Working Group, the Committee has collaborated with various stakeholders, including industry software providers, to produce drafts of four different forms, such as Commercial or Miscellaneous Bond Request Form and Small Contractor’s Questionnaire, with more to come that will undergo the ACORD process for acceptance as an ACORD form. Complementary to that effort is a project led by XBRL US with support from NASBP and other industry leaders to define WIP financial data standards, so surety financial data can seamlessly flow among systems. No, this is not the stuff of science fiction; rather, this is happening right now due to the work of many dedicated volunteers! NASBP volunteers literally are laying the foundation for automation of surety transactions. For more details, see article in this issue.
Not to be outdone, the Professional Development Committee, which already shoulders the treasured responsibility for producing the marquee offerings of the NASBP Surety Schools, is forming a “joint venture” to develop a new online educational course focused on construction joint ventures. One of the volunteers on the NASBP Attorney Advisory Council, Adrian L. Bastianelli, III, a partner in the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Peckar & Abramson, “volunteered” his firm to create the content for this first-of-its-kind NASBP online course. Adrian’s fellow partner, Michael C. Zisa, answered the call (with the assistance of other firm colleagues), producing the draft content, which will be turned into an online course to add to NASBP’s other existing online courses on Contract Surety Fundamentals, Commercial Surety Fundamentals, and Ethics. Again, this is just one of the projects currently underway by both NASBP volunteer groups; you can learn more by attending the Professional Development Committee meeting at The Broadmoor.
The Small and Emerging Business Committee likewise has grand ambitions to spread knowledge, in this case about qualifying for surety credit to small and emerging construction firms and, indeed, to anyone interested in that topic. Among the Committee’s goals is to continue to add fresh content to the web resource of www.suretylearn.org. The Committee also is “joint venturing” to accomplish this endeavor, calling on the expertise of the recently formed CPA Advisory Council. They are working on a questions and answers product, tentative called “50 Questions that Small Contractors Need to Know About Surety Bonds,” that will be an easy-to-read, plain language format. This portends to be a classic document to explain the processes and requirements of our industry to nascent construction firms. I also know that the Small and Emerging Business Committee has other outstanding projects in the works; if you want to learn more, they would welcome your attendance in Colorado at their Committee meeting.
The projects highlighted really are just a small slice of the volunteer contributions currently underway. If you are thinking about getting more engaged, don’t hesitate any longer. I guarantee that if you have any appetite for volunteerism to benefit your industry, NASBP offers the “food” to satisfy that appetite, and if you are not sure in what direction to go, just send me an email and I will be glad to make suggestions and introductions.