Each Commission conducts twice a year open meetings in order to get fresh ideas, so it does not work in a vacuum. However, only the ten Commission members are entitled to decide and the Commission decision mode is by consensus. This decision making process takes place after the open meeting, preferably by email, phone, etc to allow members of the commissions not present at the meeting to participate in the decision. The rules to define the composition and role of the IAA commissions are defined on the IAA Bylaws as listed below.
Excerpt from Bylaws:
Section VII: ACADEMY COMMISSIONS, TASK FORCES AND STUDY GROUPS
7.1 In order to provide opportunities for initiation of focused activities, to facilitate and observe such activities, enable the exchange of ideas and information among interested members of the Academy and recommend appropriate measures relating to the establishment and activities of Program Committees and Study Groups to the Board of Trustees, six Academy Commissions shall be established, namely: Commission I on Space Physical Sciences; Commission II on Space Life Sciences; Commission III on Space Technology and System Development; Commission IV on Space Systems, Operations and Utilization; Commission V on Space Policy, Law and Economics; Commission VI on Space and Society, Culture and Education. The initial general scopes of responsibility of each of the Academy Commissions are shown for information in Appendix 1 of these Bylaws. The scopes may be amended by majority Board decisions in the future.
7.2 The officers of each Academy Commission shall be a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and a Secretary. They shall be appointed by the President upon recommendation of the Vice-President for Scientific Activities for a term of two years. The Vice Chairperson shall succeed the Chairperson at the expiration of his term of office. Each Academy Commission shall be composed of members appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Vice-President for Scientific Activities. The Chairpersons of the relevant Program Committees and Study Groups shall serve as ex-officio members of the respective Academy Commissions. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairpersons of the Academy Commissions shall be selected from among the Members of the Academy, the Secretary and other members of the Commissions may be either Members or Corresponding Members of the Academy.
7.3 Academy Commissions may establish ad hoc Advisory Groups to help in reviewing selected study topics.
7.4 Upon recommendation of the Vice President for Scientific Activities, the respective Chairperson of an Academy Commission or petition of at least 15 Members and/or Corresponding Members, the Board shall be empowered to establish appropriate Program Committees and Study Groups. Members and/or Corresponding Members wishing to organize a Program Committee or a Study Group shall submit their proposal to an Academy Commission with the most appropriate scope. Such proposal shall include the terms of reference of the body concerned, the length of time needed for completion of its task, proposed membership, secondary interest in another Academy Commission, if any, and other useful information. If endorsed by the respective Academy Commissions, the proposal shall be transmitted to the Scientific Activities Committee for its approval. The Vice-President for Scientific Activities shall inform the Board of Trustees of the establishment of all Program Committees and Study Groups and shall report on the progress of their work.
7.5 The Vice-President for Scientific Activities shall recommend to the President the appointment of the Chairpersons and members of the Program Committees and Study Groups. The Officers of the Program Committees and Study Groups shall be the Chairperson, one or more Co-Chairpersons and a Secretary. The Officers shall be either Members or Corresponding Members. They shall remain in office for the lifetime of the task concerned. The membership of Program Committees and Study Groups shall include Members and Corresponding Members, as well as non-Members who are distinguished in the respective subjects of interest of these bodies.
7.6 Each Program Committee shall focus on accomplishing specific assignments over a period of time and shall organize conferences, sessions or symposia of the Academy on particular topics. The Terms of Reference for all Program Committees are contained in the reports of the Board of Trustees.
7.7 The Study Groups shall aim at producing multidisciplinary time-limited studies on various topics, which should result in cosmic study reports and position papers. All such documents shall be subject to approval of the Board of Trustees before releases as official Academy documents. The Study Groups may also convene special symposia.
IAA Criteria and Rules for Commission Membership
IAA Criteria and rules for Commission Membership
IAA Scientific Activities Survey
IAA Newly Elected Members and Academicians were invited to participate as guest to any open meetings of the IAA Commissions. Open meetings of Commissions, by definition, allow access to all Members and Corresponding Members of the Academy as well as non IAA Academicians. Those meetings are excellent opportunities to get a broad overview of the Academy concrete activity in a given area. The commission work is mainly management related but real engagement expected from newly elected members is contributing or joining either a study group or/and a program committee of an IAA conference (either a standalone Academy conference, a Regional Meeting, an Academy symposium of the International Astronautical Congress or an Academy symposium of a Scientific Assembly of COSPAR).
As decided by the Board of Trustees (BOT), IAA survey forms were sent yearly to newly elected Academicians since 2006 and it has been sent also sometimes to the entire Academy. Decision to use data survey was left to the Commissions and the Study Groups leaders.