What is General Service?

The Twelve Traditions make clear the principle that A.A., as such, should never be organized, that there are no bosses and no government in A.A. Yet at the same time, the Traditions recognize the need for some kind of organization to carry the message in ways that are impossible for the local groups — such as publication of a uniform literature and public information resources, helping new groups get started, publishing an international magazine, and carrying the message in other languages into other countries.

The U.S./Canada Conference structure is the framework in which these “general services” are carried out.—
The AA Service Manual page S15, reprinted with permission of AA World Services

What is the difference between General Service, Hospitals and Institutions, NCCAA and Intergroups? Aren’t they all AA?

Yes, they are all AA. However, each entity serves a different function. General Service connects the local group to AA as whole; H & I committees take the message of AA to incarcerated members; NCCAA has held quarterly conferences in Northern California since 1948 whose purpose is “to carry the message”; Central Offices and Intergroups provide myriad services to local groups such as providing AA literature and answering telephone calls.

What is the General Service structure?

The General Service structure is the men and women who give freely of their own time to help the still-suffering alcoholic through a structured service entity. The structure is an inverted triangle – the groups are at the top, narrowing down to the districts that service the groups, narrowing down again to the areas that serve the districts and finally to the AA World Services Board and AA Grapevine Board at the bottom.

What are these General Service positions? How can I get more information about them?

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous who wish to serve in the general service structure stand for election at the appropriate service meeting. The positions may involve serving at group level, at district level (covering one or more cities) or at area level (in CNCA from Monterey to the Oregon border). Some of these positions are listed below. More information can be found in the AA Service Manual.

What is a GSR?

GSR  stands for General Service Representative and they are vital links in the chain of communication between the home group and AA as a whole. They are elected by groups to represent them at the Area Assembly and to carry their group conscience to the District, the Area and the Conference. They also carry back Conference, Area and District actions to their group.

What is a DCM?

A DCM  or District Committee Member, is elected by the GSRs in a District or subdistrict to provide a two-way line of communication between the District and the Area Committee, including the Area Delegate. They also share with groups about the responsibilities of general service work.

What is a DCMC?

A District Committee Member Chairperson is elected by GSRs and DCMs to help facilitate the chain of communication between the Area Committee, the District Committee and the group General Service Representatives. This person also facilitates the District Committee meetings, usually held monthly.

What is a Delegate? What does the Delegate do?

Each of the 93 General Service areas of AA in the U.S. and Canada has an elected delegate to represent them at the annual General Service Conference. The Delegate votes on behalf of his/her area at the General Service Conference. At an area assembly prior to the conference, the delegate is given the group conscience of the whole area to take to New York.

What is the General Service Conference?

Once a year (in late April) the Delegates from the service areas of AA meet in New York. In CNCA there is a Pre-Conference Assembly held to discuss the conference agenda items. There is also a Post-Conference Assembly held when the area Delegate reports back from the conference.
What is GSO?

GSO is the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is located in New York City and serves the US and Canada in matters relating to Alcoholics Anonymous.

What is AAWS?

AAWS stands for Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. This is essentially the business side of AA in that the printing and sale of AA publications falls under its purview.

What are districts, areas and regions?

The U.S. and Canada are split up into eight geographic regions. There are 93 Delegate areas. Areas are divided into districts which consist of several cities.   See page S91 in The AA Service Manual.

What are service meetings?

There are several different types of service meetings – group, district, and area. A group business meeting discusses the affairs of the home group. A district business meeting discusses the collective matters affecting all the groups within that district. At area committee meetings and area assemblies, the collective business of the area is discussed, which includes the groups, districts, and area.

Who attends these service meetings?

Anybody is welcome to attend these meetings.  Attendees are AAs serving in the General Service structure. Each type of service meeting applies to different levels of the structure. In fact, interested AAs are encouraged to attend to see the third legacy at work.

Who serves on the Area Committee?

The committee consists of GSRs, DCMCs (District Committee Member Chairs) and DCMs (District Committee Members) of each of the participating districts in the area, the elected area officers and committee chairpersons, the delegate and alternate delegate, committee chairpersons.

What is the Area Assembly?

The Area Assembly is a meeting of G.S.R.’s and Area Committee members to discuss area business and to elect officers and a delegate to the General Service Conference, held in New York. The Pre-Conference Assembly is where groups who have discussed the items on the General Service Conference Agenda pass their group consciences to their Delegate via their GSRs. At the Post-Conference Assembly the Delegate reports back from New York. The Summer Assembly holds informative workshops. The Fall Assembly in odd years is an opportunity for the area to take its inventory and on even numbered years it is the voting assembly to elect the next rotation of area officers.

Where and when is the Assembly?

CNCA assemblies are held four times, from Del Norte County to Monterey County. See the AA Events Calendar

May anyone attend the Area Assembly?

All members of A.A. are encouraged to participate in the workshops and sharing sessions of the Assembly.

Who is eligible to vote during Area Assemblies?

Current GSR’s, DCM’s, DCMC’s and Area Officers or their alternates if the person with whom they serve is not present.

How does my District host an Area Assembly?

The Assembly Bid Form is a good place to start as well as contacting the Area Assembly Coordinator.

What is a Service Sponsor?

A “regular” or recovery sponsor helps a member work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous by passing on what they did and continue to do to stay sober. A service sponsor helps a member understand the 12 Traditions and the 12 Concepts and how these apply in service.

Where should my AA group send contributions to in the Northern California Coastal Area?

California Northern Coastal Area, P.O. Box 884222,

San Francisco, CA 94188-4222

Please place group name or service number or both on the check. You may contact the CNCA Registrar, for your group information, through the Contact Us page.
Where can I get more information about General Service?

Start by asking your home group GSR or read some AA literature on service work such as the AA Service Manual. There is a host of information on the GSO website.