All excerpts are taken from the General Service Office’s pamphlet AA Guidelines – Central or Intergroup Offices
A central office (or intergroup) is an A.A. service office that involves partnership among groups in a community—just as A.A. groups themselves are partnerships of individuals. A central office is established to carry out certain functions common to all the groups—functions which are best handled by a centralized office—and it is usually maintained, supervised, and supported by these groups in their general interest. It exists to aid the groups in their common purpose of carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
The A.A. experience has demonstrated that central offices are helpful, particularly in populous areas. There are nearly 700 central/intergroup offices throughout the world, performing vital A.A. services. These constitute a network of service outlets and A.A. contacts to help carry the A.A. message. Sometimes, however, central office ventures have bogged down in disputes over money, authority, and like matters— thus becoming less effective in carrying the A.A. message. It’s not always clear why these troubles have come up, but often it’s been because the proper functions of a central office were not clearly explained or understood, or there was some disregard of the principles in A.A.’s Twelve Traditions. So the following suggestions have been made to outline the basic services a central office might offer:
1) A.A. Inquiries—By providing an Alcoholics Anonymous listing in the local telephone directory, the central office may receive inquiries from those seeking help. They will refer the caller to a nearby A.A. group, where sponsorship may be arranged, or have a twelfth stepper contact them. Many local A.A. offices now have their own Web site.
2) Office Facilities—The central office can maintain a conveniently located office in which paid workers and/or volunteers coordinate local A.A. services.
3) Meeting Lists and Other Literature — At regular intervals, the central office may publish and distribute up-to-date lists of meetings and other information about local A.A. services. Many intergroup/ central offices sell A.A. Conference-approved literature for the convenience of local groups.
4) Information Exchange—The service office may function as a clearinghouse for the circulation and exchange of information among all the A.A. groups in the community. In this same connection, a logical function of the central office is to provide “program exchange” meetings, where group program chairpersons meet regularly to exchange meetings with other groups.
5) Local Committees on Public Information (P.I.) and Cooperation With the Professional Community (C.P.C.) in cooperation with district and area P.l. and C.P.C. committees—The central office is an ideal contact with those in the community seeking information about A.A. Thus, A.A.’s relations with the public and professionals in the alcoholism field are often handled through the cooperation of general service committees and central offices. To avoid duplication of efforts and other difficulties, good communication between all parts of A.A. is paramount. A.A. Guidelines and Workbooks on P.I. and C.P.C. are available from G.S.O.
6) A.A. in Correctional and Treatment Facilities—The central office can maintain contact with local groups in correctional facilities and treatment facilities, offering literature and prerelease A.A. contacts and arranging for A.A. speakers and visitors to meetings. When there is a corrections or treatment committee for this purpose, the service office may assist it through close cooperation with local hospitals and prisons. Central offices handling institutional contacts are also urged to send for G.S.O. material, Guidelines on Corrections Committees and Guidelines on Treatment Committees and the Corrections and Treatment Committees Workbooks.
7) Local A.A. Events—An A.A. central office is a logical body to manage the details of an annual dinner, picnic, or convention, if the participating groups wish it.
8) A.A. Bulletin or Newsletter—The preparation of a publication for periodic distribution to A.A. groups is often a function of the central office.
9) Special Needs Services—Many central offices carry information on groups that are wheelchair accessible, or signed for deaf members. Some offices have TDD/TTY (Teletypewriter or Text Telephone) equipment for communicating with deaf alcoholics.