The eleventh agency in the community is the Bylaws Agency. The agency’s primary responsibilities are facilitating the implementation and practice of community bylaws and public policy, which do not replace or overrule local laws.

Each NewVistas community operates under the jurisdiction of the relevant state or country’s authority. Since it needs to conform to these laws, the agency works to align bylaws[1] and policy[2] with relevant legislation. This involves engaging the relevant authorities, participants, and community agencies to ensure compliance. Public policy refers to the principles and practices on which the community’s bylaws and other guidelines are based. The community’s public policy is mainly static, drawing on its need to be a thriving group of people whose social and economic conduct is sustainable.

The Bylaws Agency works closely with the board of trustees on the formulation of bylaws and public policy. The guiding framework for the bylaws and public policy is one of the founding elements of the community, given by a team of general advisors for the whole system, the entire collection of NewVistas communities. An individual community, under the auspices of the Bylaws Agency, adapts these guidelines to suit its needs and special circumstances. The agency conducts automated public participation to get participants’ input. It then drafts the bylaws based on the feedback, before forwarding the draft bylaws to the Board of trustees, which ratifies the bylaws with a two-thirds majority vote.[3]

The Bylaws Agency undertakes training programs to acquaint the participants with the bylaws, as well as any changes that have been recommended or ratified. The training, as with public participation, is conducted through the agency’s online system. The participants are able to receive all the information they need.[4] They can also find additional help from the village presidents, in case they are unable to receive adequate services from the system. The village presidents can directly engage participants, drawing feedback with which the agency presidents adjust and improve the online system, and make any required amendments to strategy.

To achieve its objectives, the Bylaws Agency performs a number of roles, either by itself (core responsibilities) or in coordination with other agencies within the community (coordinated responsibilities).

Core Responsibilities

The Bylaws Agency’s core responsibilities are rooted in the development and implementation of bylaws and public policy, which must remain in harmony with local civic laws. They include:

  • Facilitate the community in the formulation of public policy and bylaws
  • Guide the implementation process of bylaws and public policy
  • Set up systems to monitor adherence to bylaws
  • Engage the relevant authorities in which jurisdiction the community falls, in aligning bylaws with state/federal legislation

Facilitating formulation of bylaws and public policy

The Bylaws Agency provides the fora through which public policy and bylaws are developed. [5] The said fora involve enabling public participation, which enables participants and community agencies to have control over the bylaws and public policy they are to live under. The agency’s system is set up in a way that continuously engages participants on the applicability of bylaws and public policy and consults on any adjustments that need to be made.

Guiding the implementation process

The Bylaws Agency facilitates the implementation and continued observance of bylaws and public policy.[6] The agency’s automated system provides agencies and participants with the necessary training information on how they can develop their capacity to comply with these rules. This may include frequently asked questions (FAQs), leaflets and tutorials, and directions on where further guidance can be sought.[7]  As agencies and participants perform their business, the Bylaws Agency continually provides them with training material to better their understanding and implementation.

Adherence to bylaws

The Bylaws Agency, through the village presidents, monitors adherence to bylaws and public policy. It also monitors other agencies and entities’ enforcement of bylaws and public policy, as provided for by the Property Division (one of the community’s two main organizational divisions, which is concerned with business support, property development, and governance). The agency then recommends appropriate steps as necessary, including further training, audits, or disciplinary action.

Engaging third parties during the formulation and implementation of bylaws

The Bylaws Agency works to ensure that the rules and guidelines that it helps formulate are in line with local governmental authorities’ laws. For this, the agency coordinates extensively with the relevant parties so that as it pursues compliance, it does not compromise the core purpose of the bylaws in the community.[8] The agency conducts this engagement through various means, including thorough scrutiny of the said laws, and advising participants and agencies on whether their interpretation of bylaws conforms to the law. Besides utilizing its automated system, the agency also contracts legal experts for additional work besides the four-hour week the agency servants are able to volunteer.

Coordinated Responsibilities

The Bylaws Agency also coordinates with different agencies to fulfill its mission. This coordination is either horizontal (within the Public Administration Department), vertical (within the Business Support vertical), or diagonal, with other agencies in the community.

Horizontal coordination

The Public Administration Department comprises the Communication, Bylaws, and Public Relations Agencies. Agency 10 – the Communication Agency works with the Bylaws Agency to communicate bylaws and public policy to participants. It also plays an important role in facilitating public participation in the formulation process, providing the necessary information to the participants. The Bylaws Agency also coordinates with Agency 12 – the Public Relations Agency to ensure that public policy and bylaws that are formulated buttress the community’s public relations agenda.  The community views its bylaws as an important part of its public relations posture, whereby the outside world is attracted to the ideals advanced by the bylaws.

Vertical coordination

The Bylaws Agency works with Agency 2 – the Stewardships Agency to enable participants to run their businesses in compliance with bylaws. The Bylaws Agency also advises the Stewardships Agency as it trains participants on bylaws, to ensure that community businesses have bylaws embedded in their daily operations. The Bylaws Agency liaises with Agency 20 – the Business Planning Agency to ensure that business proposals are formulated in compliance with bylaws. Together with Agency 17 – the Accounting Agency, the Bylaws Agency facilitates the formulation of accounting practices and principles that are part of the community’s public policy. The two agencies also collaborate in training participants on these practices and principles. The Bylaws Agency liaises with Agency 14 – the IP Agency to guide the IP development process, ensuring that it is within acceptable bylaws and applicable laws.

Diagonal coordination

Agency 13 -the Legal Services Agency coordinates with the Bylaws Agency to ensure the legality of rules and guidelines that the community aims to live by. The two agencies coordinate as part of their engagement within and outside the community, ensuring that the bylaws that the community works on are in conformity with the law and community aspirations. For instance, bylaws are expected to bolster the community’s survival and improve participants’ chances of succeeding in the community. In addition, a major tenet of the community is operating under the relevant government’s legal regime. The two agencies work to actualize this.


The public policy and bylaws by which the community lives come through the NewVistas general advisors and evolve according to participants’ wishes, which are informed by their need to live together in a society that is socially and economically progressive and sustainable. The Bylaws Agency provides the platform through which these aspirations by participants can be codified. The agency also provides the avenue through which the community ensures and demonstrates its willingness to submit to local, state, and federal laws while maintaining the right and ability to chart its own future.

[1] Bylaws usually refer to rules that govern a non-profit organization that needs rules beyond what is provided by the overall authority under which it operates. Bylaws are subordinate to state, federal or national legislation and the constitution, and must be aligned to apply. Bylaws emphasize the reasons behind an entity’s existence and how it will conduct its business, including governance and main operations (Hopkins, B. Starting and Managing a Nonprofit Organization: A Legal Guide. Hoboken: john Wiley and Sons, 2013).

[2] Public policy in the community is a product of bylaws. It refers to the guiding principles by which the community operates, drawn from, and at the same time guiding how bylaws are created. Public policy is also a product of political (public) participation in the process that gives rise to bylaws, and other guiding tenets (Peters, B. and J. Pierre. Handbook of Public Policy. London: Sage Publications, 2006).

[3] Two thirds majorities, or supermajorities, are needed when the result of the vote will result in “systemic shifts” in how an entity, such as a country, or in this case, the community, will operate. The condition is applied in the enactment of bylaws to ensure that they have as widespread support as possible, rather than being the imposition of a law by a simple majority (Rubenfeld, J. “Rights of Passage: Majority Rule in Congress.” Duke Law Journal 46.73 (1995): 73-90).

[4]Public participation is an important aspect of the law making discourse. Involving the public creates laws which are more responsive to their needs, and which are more widely supported. The community will have public participation as a condition for any rules and policies that affect them, which includes bylaws. The agency will work to promote this condition or right (Czapanskiy, C. and R. Manjoo. “The Right of Public Participation in the Law-Making Process and the Role of the Legislature in the Promotion of this Right.” Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law 19.1 (2008): 1-40).

[5] The role of the agency can be equated to that of a speaker in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, and the community body, the House of Commons, which in practice legislates. The speaker moderates debate guides the participating voices but has no actual say on what will be law and what is to be rejected (Rogers, R. and R. Walters. How Parliament Works. London: Routledge, 2015).

[6] The agency does not implement bylaws and public policy – this mandate falls on the respective agencies and participants, who have to operate within the said rules. Once again, an analogy can be made in a contemporary government, whereby the parliament makes the laws and acts as a watchdog to make sure they are complied with. Implementation, however, is the executive’s responsibility (Park, R. Implementation of Legislation: Monitoring and Oversighting Government Action. Minneapolis: The advocates for Human Rights, 2013). 

[7] For the participants to adequately appreciate and implement bylaws, they need to be taken through rigorous and high quality civic education. The objective of this is to inform them of their rights and objectives, and cultivate the right civic skills in them (Jamieson, K. “The Challenges Facing Civic Education in the 21st Century.” Daedalus 142.2 (2013): 65-83).

[8] Bylaws define what the community is all about, its ideals and how it is expected to operate. Through bylaws, participants and agencies will stay focused to the community’s objectives, and prevent any distractions. It is therefore important that all effort be taken to prevent their watering-down in a manner that would compromise the reason why the community exists in the first place (Kansas, University of. Community Tool Box. Kansas City: University of Kansas, 2018).