A huge week for the future of CIPS

Next weekend, the Council of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) meets for perhaps its most important meeting ever, or at least since it achieved Chartered status.   On the agenda is the outcome from the Governance Review, which we wrote about at some length here. And we understand the proposals are radical and far-reaching.

At the moment, the elected CIPS Council is the ultimate decision making body of the Institute, and its members are formally Trustees of the charity (CIPS).  However, in practice, Council devolves much of its power for day to day decision making to the Board of Management, which is made up of some members elected from Council and some directly appointed by the Appointments Board.

We believe that next weekend Council will debate in effect a single set of recommendations, the key element of which is for the Board to become both the Trustee body and the Management Board.  Council will be abolished and replaced with ‘Congress’ (great name), which will meet just once a year and be in the main advisory rather than decision making.  The only real role Congress will have is to elect half the Board members from within their own ranks, subject to Nominations Committee approval.

The other six Board members will be appointed by the Nominations Committee, the successor to the Appointments Board. The Nominations Committee also finds and appoints the President (a one year appointment); the Board elects a Chair (for two years) from their own ranks.  There is still some debate we believe about whether the Chief Executive should also be a Trustee (and even if  (s)he is, surely it would be wrong for the CEO to vote on selecting the Chair, who then becomes his / her boss)!

Congress will be elected, with around 50 members, elected on a proportional basis to geographic membership – so Africa for instance will get a far larger proportion of ‘congresspeople’ than currently on Council where there is just one African delegate out of 40+.

From a CIPS member’s perspective, the big change is this. At the moment, we elect directly the people who, technically at least, ‘run’ the Institute – the Council members / trustees. In the new structure we won’t have any direct say in appointing the trustees / Board, who will be selected by the Nominations Committee and Congress. We will elect Congress however, so members do have a sort of ‘second order’ input (via Congress) into selecting some of the Trustees.

On the positive side, the new structure would have some clear benefits; faster and easier decision making amongst them, and a group of Trustees who are closer to the real decisions than many Council members currently are.

But, assuming my information is correct, there’s no getting away from the fact that members will have no direct or electoral input into choosing the people who run CIPS.

The whole process of analysis and debate so far has taken place with an air of secrecy which I’m not sure is appropriate – why hasn't the review to date opened itself up to members’ views? And there's an argument that Council might have debated two or three options rather than being presented with basically a single set of recommendations. But I’m assured that if Council accepts the recommendations this weekend, it will have anyway have to go to all CIPS members for a vote.

Assuming that is the case, we’ll be featuring here on Spend Matters both the pros and cons, and we’ll be encouraging CIPS members to vote - to some extent, the important thing is that it does get proper debate and a good voter turnout. The biggest shame would be if CIPS makes a huge step on the back of the votes of 53 members or something like that.

So we look forward to the outcome of Council. We would also obviously encourage Council members to read their papers, think hard about the issues, raise questions at the meeting, and don’t be afraid to disagree with what may appear to be a majority view.  Good debate is key. And if you’re a member who has strong feelings already, contact your Council representative. (And if he or she doesn’t provide an email address, email them care of CIPS and ask them why they can’t be contacted by the people they’re representing)!  Finally, I hope CIPS will tell us which Council members attend - I know there are always genuine reasons for missing meetings, but if any Council meeting ever deserved a 90%+ turnout, it’s this one.

Finally, as part of the process of building awareness of these discussions, please pass this on to your friends / colleagues who are CIPS members, but aren't Spend Matters readers! Thanks.

Voices (4)

  1. Vegas Child:

    Any news on this Peter? Sorry I’ve been so late in replying but frankly internal governance isn’t exciting enough to drag me away from a winning streak on the table. However, to an outsider, these do seem like sensible ideas in the main – what is the difference between council and board now anyway? and just how many trustees does CIPS need ? Got to go now, Vegas never sleeps!

  2. Christine Morton:

    How engaged with senior CIPS management would you say the average CIPS member is, anyway?

  3. Mike Pringle:

    We also need to make sure that CIPS’s structure provides the checks and balances that ensures it stays within the remit of its charter i.e. does not end up competing with other procurement consultancies!

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