In late 2017 the Computer Department at the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses presented Publisher ID to senior staff of the Jehovah’s Witnesses at World Headquarters and around the world via video link. In the video you can see, among others, the faces of Patrick LaFranca of the Personnel Committee, Kenneth Flodin of the Teaching Committee, and Robert Ciranko of the Writing Committee. The application was introduced by John Ekrann of the Coordinators’ Committee and presented by Francois Louw of the World Headquarters Computer Department. Ekrann also identified Alexis Radford and Rene Llerena of the Computer Department as individuals who could provide additional information about the application.
Publisher ID is a confidential system at this point. Congregations around the world are not currently aware of its existence. The work on Publisher ID started in September 2017 and it was expected that it would take 8 months to focus on the basics of the system. When it is eventually implemented worldwide is not yet known.
Purpose of Publisher ID
Publisher ID is a computer application designed to keep track of all the publishers (Jehovah’s Witness members) inside of their global computer system, HuB. Publisher record cards would essentially become electronic, allowing congregation elders to add them and edit them directly from within JW.org. This system is not intended for publishers to access the system. It only means that the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses would have an I.D. of every member within its organization globally.
Key Aspects of Publisher ID
The Benefits of the computer application are explained by Louw as:
- Reduces the work of the congregation secretary
- Reduces the work of the branch office
- Reduces the work of the circuit overseer
- Less likely to lose track of important data
- Publisher ID data will be stored more securely
The system will allow publishers to log into jw.org and submit applications for various activities within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such a submission will establish an electronic workflow for the congregation service committee, circuit overseer and branch to approve the application. The claim is that without a publisher having an I.D., the electronic workflow is more convoluted and confusing.
Potential future benefits include:
- Midweek meeting schedule
- Congregation duty assignments
- Cleaning schedules
- Emergency contact information
- Outgoing speaker list
- Public talk scheduling
- And more …
Publisher Data already in HuB
The World Headquarters has a high confidence in two thirds of the personal data they currently retain within HuB for publishers, as of late 2017. These publishers are elders, ministerial servants, regular pioneers, and in other forms of full-time service. They have a high confidence level in this data because there is already an organizational process to keep this information up to date.
They have low confidence in personal data relating to publishers with blood-related medical issues, applicants, skills responders and others. It is considered low confidence because there is no organizational process to keep that data up to date.
Louw revealed that of the 1.2 million publishers in the United States, they already had personal data relating to about 600K publishers in HuB. This means that they had low confidence in the data belonging to about 200K publishers.
Access to Publisher ID
It is not expected that every publisher of Jehovah’s Witnesses will have access to Publisher ID. Those who do get access will have to go through a verification process involving their congregation secretary. However, every publishers data will be inserted into HuB and the World Headquarters expects to have high confidence in that data.
Work for Congregation Secretary
Congregation secretaries currently work electronically and on paper. They use cloud storage and access their jw.org inbox, jw.org documents and forms, and printed publisher cards. The organization is also concerned with where this data is stored.
Currently publisher service reports are managed in KHS or TS win, then logging to JW.org to put data in there. Along with that, he needs to update the Publisher Cards, keep them sorted, and sort differently for the circuit overseer, and then he also has to provide reports to group overseers. There is a lot of data entry for the congregation secretary.
With Publisher ID, they can publish all this data in jw.org without using any third party software or have to keep printed records.
Louw revealed that when he showed Publisher ID to the legal department, they just started laughing. Yet, Louw points out some additional aspects of Publisher ID.
- Data is securely stored.
- Already 50% of publishers data is in HuB
- Principle of informed consent is being worked on with the Legal Department
Ekrann’s Comments in Conclusion
Prior to this presentation, John Ekrann had a conversation with Joel Dellinger of the Service Committee said that both the Service Committee and Personnel Committee have a great deal of interest in this project. Ekrann went on to say that the whole goal of this project is to help congregation elders, particularly the secretary and the service overseer.
Ekrann also revealed that Dellinger said the six committees (Coordinators, Publishing, Personnel, Service, Teaching and Writing) are not six but one (just like there is not three Gods but one?). This helped explain that although elders’ direction is from the Service Committee, it acts on behalf of all the Committees.
The Governing Body saw the potential in the system but wanted it to be kept simple.
Publisher ID is active and in use. Publishers of Jehovah’s Witnesses can apply for a profile by using the S-131: Instructions for Accessing My Profile and My Applications Features on JW.ORG.