ADSO was formally launched at its first national conference held on 14 October 2009 and now has over 1,400 members.

ADSO’s founding vision was: ”

  • To be a nationally recognised professional association, regarded as such by central government, our
    members and our partners; and
  • To represent, promote and develop excellent democratic services, for the benefit of all those working
    within the sector and those we support.

ADSO does this by:

1. Championing the essential role of the Democratic Services Officer (DSO) as front-line staff, explaining the often difficult and nuanced job that they do, and clearly articulating what skills a DSO brings to the table;
2. Championing democracy, protecting the fundamental principle whilst being flexible about doing it differently;
3. Upholding standards and codes of conduct. Training both DSOs and elected members to better engage, and protecting the DSO and those within meetings from bullying and
harassment; and
4. Being experts on constitutional and governance matters, and innovative in its views as to modern delivery of decision making eg. Accessibility via remote access, use of technology to enhance meetings.

Aims of the Association

  • To promote the professional status of democratic services within all aspects of local and community governance
  • To foster the advancement of efficient and where relevant consistent practice in democratic services
  • To promote the professional development of its members by the provision of qualifications for all our membership and learning opportunities for all
  • To represent the democratic services profession through active engagement with others
  • To act as a body of influence on all matters relating to democratic services
  • To provide opportunities for the exchange of views and experiences amongst members of the Association and with others
  • To disseminate information and advice on all aspects of democratic services
  • To assist the membership in the development of good practice in democratic services


The Association has achieved a lot in its first few years including:

  • A well developed and popular Members Forum
  • Sponsored, for four years running (2010 – 2013) an MJ Award for Democratic Services Team of the Year
  • Responded to government consultations relating to all areas of Democratic Services
  • Delivered a comprehensive and affordable training programme
  • Offers a Certificate and High Level Diploma for those seeking a qualification working in the secto

Equality and Diversity Statement

You can view ADSO’s Equality and Diversity Statement here:

ADSO’s Equality and Diversity Statement 

For further information about ADSO please contact John Austin, ADSO Board Chair.