Robert's Rules of Order
is a set of rules defining a method of parliamentary procedure
. It is used to structure and organize meetings of people by providing a set of consistent rules. These rules decribe the proper methods of, for example:
- Presenting a motion (a proposal for the group's consideration)
- Handling debates over motions
- Choosing leaders
- Voting by members
- Deciding whether to continue debating a motion or to 'table' it - i.e. drop it for the moment
- Behavior in the meeting for all concerned
...and many more. Where did they come from? Apparently a U.S. Army officer named Henry Robert attempted, with no prior experience, to run a church meeting. The resulting debacle so embarrassed him it prompted him to embark on research of proper parliamentary procedure as he moved about the United States in his Army career. His guide was originally published in the latter part of the nineteenth century; To this day, continually updated versions of Robert's Rules can be bought. The present 'official' version is titled Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. The organization that produces it can be found at http://www.robertsrules.com.
The U.S. Senate has its own set of rules, which are known as 'Senate Rules.' These can be found on the senate home page at http://www.senate.gov.