An essential part of the ballot process, particularly Normative Ballots, is the completion of the reconciliation. This is not just important for the HL7 International Community, it is also one of the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements that HL7 must fulfill. An important aspect of this requirement is that reconciliation activities be transparent and readily available in a single location. That location is the Ballot Desktop that is also used to record voting and display the ballot tally results. Note that a Comment-only Ballot does not require reconciliation and the reconciliation process for Informative or DSTU Ballots does not carry the same rigor as Normative Ballots.
Compiling a Reconciliation Package
After each Ballot Cycle, a Ballot Results Summary is posted on the TSC Documents/Presentations page of the HL7 International Web site and announced to the Co-Chair List Serve. Co-Chairs usually review the ballot results and comments from the items their WG is balloting with the other WG members in preparation for the upcoming WGM (usually the week following the ballot close).
Part of this preparation usually include the compilation of a reconciliation spreadsheet that combines all of the comments received from reviewers. This spreadsheet is created with a macro that combines all of the individual reviewer comment spreadsheets into a single spreadsheet. This macro is available in the Ballot Amalgamation Macro Worksheet that is posted on the Tally Page of the Ballot Desktop.
Important Note: You must be signed in with Co-Chair access in order to view the download link for this file and view the other Co-Chair Reconciliation functionality.
WGs usually begin reconciling completed ballots at the WGM, but reconciliations can often take several weeks or months depending upon the comments received during the ballot. Once the Co-Chairs of a WG feel they have addressed all the comments to a ballot, they will compile a updated reconciliation package using the ballot amalgamation spreadsheet. Part of this final compilation will consist of noting the WG's response to each comment, including whether or not it was found persuasive and identifying who is responsible for making any necessary edits. (If you need to include multiple files in a reconciliation package, make sure to zip them up into a single file.
Posting a Reconciliation Package
When the Reconciliation Spreadsheet is completed, a Co-Chair will post the final package on the Tally Summary page for that Ballot Item. To do this, a Co-Chair must:
- Ensure they are properly logged in to the Ballot Desktop.
- From the Tally page of the appropriate Ballot Cycle, select the Ballot Summary link for the appropriate ballot. (Hint: if the ballot items don't appear as links, you are not logged in, or not logged in with Co-Chair access.)
- Expand the Resolving Negatives navigation pane in the left-hand side of the page.
- Click the 'Upload the Reconciliation Package for this Document Pool' link in this section.
- On the Upload page, use the Browse button to navigate to the Co-Chair's local copy of the reconciliation spreadsheet package, and click the Upload this Reconciliation Package button.
Once the package has uploaded, you can use the links on the confirmation page to return to the Ballot Summary page for that pool.
Please note that if you ever need to update the Reconciliation Package, you will need to delete the existing package first. You will find a link for this action in the Resolving Negatives navigation pane.
Notifying Negative Voters that a Reconciliation Package is Available
Once the Reconciliation Package has been posted, Negative voters need to be notified that the package is available. Again using the Resolving Negatives navigation pane, select the Request Withdrawals link. The Request Withdrawals page is composed of several sections:
- Who should this go to? - You will probably just check the Send to All Names checkbox, but you can also select from the individually listed Negative voters listed below this. Important: Make sure you check at least one checkbox!
- Who will this email come from? - You cannot change this field since this email needs to indicate which Co-Chair is sending the email. Note that you can check the checkbox above this header is you would like a copy of the Withdrawal Request email sent to you.
- The Email Subject Line - This field begins with the following boilerplate text: 'Request for Withdrawal or Retraction of your Negative Vote'. It is highly suggested that you copy and paste the name of ballot so that it follows this text and add the ballot cycle the ballot item belongs to. This will help voters when returning to the Ballot Desktop.
- Starting the Email - This section contains boilerplate text that cannot be edited.
- Customizing the Email - You can use this section to include any additional information or directions for voters. You might, for instance, include the time of a WG conference call at which voters can review and ask questions about the WG's responses to comments.
- Ending the Email - The section contains boilerplate text appropriate to the nature of the email. Following this is an additional free form text field in which you can include any other additional content you would like to provide.
- Closing the Email- This section allows you to select the WG for which you are a Co-Chair so that it can be included with your signature line. The rest of the signature line is built from you member log-in information and cannot be edited here. Note: you can also include an additional file to upload and send with the email. Please respect common attachment size limits when using this functionality. Many email systems have size limits enforced on attachments and emails with overly large attachments may not reach their intended recipients.
When you have finished composing the Withdrawal Request email, click on the Send this Mailing button at the bottom of the form. If you checked the summary email option at the top of the page, you should see a copy of your email in your InBox in under ten minutes.
Closing the 'Reconciliation Loop'
Sometimes, the hardest part of completing reconciliation comes after you have notified negative voters that a reconciliation package has been posted. You may even get most of your negative voters to withdraw, but occasionally there seem to be one or two who are unresponsive to emails. There may be several reasons for this: the voter may no longer be with the organization they initially voted for, they may be on extended leave, or they may not feel that their comments were adequately addressed.
There are several strategies you can use to try and 'close the loop' with these voters. A first step should be trying to contact that voter's organizational key member. This is the organization member who given responsibility for managing all of that organization's voters and votes. If you are not sure who the key member is, contact HL7 HQ and they can provide you with that information. Oftentimes a key member will know when a voter may be on leave or otherwise unavailable. In the past, the Key Member, acknowledging that the negative comments have been adequately addressed, could request HL7 HQ to withdraw the vote on the voter's behalf; however, due to the results of a recent ANSI audit, the "execution of a Key Member's proxy" has been revoked. The reason the voter is unable to respond, provided by the Key Member, should be recorded and the Negative line item annotated as unresolved or outstanding. The existence of unresolved Negatives does not preclude a ballot from passing; however, it does require a re-circulation ballot for final passage and presentation to ANSI.
As an alternative you might try calling the voter, whether an individual or organizational representative, directly using the voter's contact information on the HL7 website. If you are not comfortable doing this, contact HL7 HQ and ask either Don or Karen if they can contact the voter. The same process applies if the individual cannot be contacted or does not agree to withdraw their negative as stated in the paragraph above.
Promotion to ANSI acceptance
If all reconciliation has been done, the last finishing touch consists of two steps:
- the action items for improvement need to be carried out,
- publication of the final documentation must be requested (can use the same publication request form for Informative, DSTU, and Normative documents.
- This notifies HQ that the material is ready to publish. If the document in question is normative, the Associate Executive Director (Karen Van Hentenryck) will submit the paperwork to ANSI.
When a Voter Won't Withdraw a Negative
There are times when a voter feels strongly enough on an issue that he or she won't withdraw his or her negative, even though a ballot has enough Affirmative votes to pass. The HL7 GOM provides directions on how to deal with these situations for Review Ballots. Note that a Comment-only Ballot does not require reconciliation.
In the case of Informative or DSTU ballots, a WG can submit that ballot content for publication even though there are outstanding negatives. There are publication request forms for Informative, DSTU, and Normative documents. This form allows you to identify the ballot results and make any appropriate notes regarding the ballot outcome. It also provides a formal notification to HQ that the material is ready to publish.
In the case of Normative ballots, see the HL7 ER for directions, any outstanding negative comments will be referred back to the initial consensus group (all the voters in the ballot who returned an Affirmative, Negative or Abstain). This is called a Re-circulation ballot. The voters are given a two-week period in which to review the outstanding negative comments and the WG's response to them. At the end of this time, each voter can either affirm their original vote or change that vote based on the outstanding comments. The tally from this ballot then becomes the final result for the ballot. Pending an appeals period, if this re-circulation tally meets the necessary approval level, the candidate standard can then be published even if there are still outstanding negatives.
If you need to arrange for a Re-circulation ballot, please complete the Re-circulation Ballot request form and send it to Don and Karen at HL7 HQ.