In the Scout Movement, a commissioner is the person whose role it is to oversee a Scout association's programs, usually within a particular geographic area. Normally, commissioners are volunteers. In some Scout associations, the term Executive Commissioner is used to refer to a paid staff member.
The commissioner role appeared early in the scouting movement. Individual troops were organized by existing community organizations, and those organizations took the primary responsibility for implementing the scouting program. To ensure consistency between different troops, the scouting movement relied on two concepts: leader training and the commissioner staff. Scouting's founder, Baden-Powell, developed and promoted numerous leader training programs, starting in 1910 and leading to a course in 1919 that is now known as Wood Badge. The commissioner staff provided an ongoing, independent check on the troops themselves.
A commissioner's full title is derived from their level within the organization:
- Unit Commissioner
- Area Commissioner
- District Commissioner
- Council Commissioner
- Regional Commissioner
- Provincial Commissioner
- National Commissioner
- Chief Commissioner
Sometimes commissioners have responsibility for a specific topic, such as Commissioner for Camping, District Roundtable Commissioner, or Deputy Commissioner for Wolf Cubs. Some commissioners also have assistants, such as the Assistant District Commissioner.
Commissioners in the Boy Scouts of America were originally the volunteer representatives of the National Council office. One of the first National Commissioners was Daniel Carter Beard, author of the American Boy's Handy Book.