Former RIBA president Angela Brady has said the decision-making process within the institute needs to be urgently addressed
Speaking in a candid interview with the AJ shortly after stepping down from her post, the ex-president warned that the governance of the institute and the balance of power between the RIBA’s staff, its executive board and the elected council had to be looked at as a priority.
She said: ‘There will always be a list of urgent issues to tackle but the issue of governance and who exactly is making policy decisions – the board, the council or the officers – needs to be resolved.’
Back in July the RIBA council approved a motion calling for greater influence over decision making in the institute, launching an investigation into ways it could achieve greater control over decisions made by Portland Place’s board of trustees.
In 2010 the RIBA created a 10-strong board to run the institute and create its annual budget and business plan - a setup which some councillors felt led to some matters ‘coming to council with a little bit of a pre-formed decision’ (see RIBA council seeks to reclaim power over board decisions).
Former RIBA President Owen Luder welcomed Brady’s comments. He said: ‘[Brady] is clearly aware of the serious problems with the governance of the RIBA that stem from the drastic upheaval changes made three years ago.
‘The elected Council has little control and influence over major policy decisions including the management of RIBA finances, over which there is a big question mark. Little wonder there is a growing pressure from members “please can we have our Institute back”.’
He added: ‘Pressure to get the relationship between the Board, Council and staff- policy decisions made by elected members and executed by staff back where it should be is not going to go away.’
However the institute’s new president Stephen Hodder does not seem concerned with the current hierarchy and decision-making process.
Responding last month to a question about whether there were any tensions between the council and the executive board, Hodder told the AJ: ‘There’s a very clear definition of role between the board and council. When first elected, I sat in council listening to lengthy debates about pensions. Frankly that wasn’t what I was expecting. I wanted to talk about architecture and policy. With 60 trustees, you can imagine how unwieldy that was.
‘Abstracting operational policy from architectural policy was, in my opinion, a very positive move. Perhaps from the council members’ point of view, we haven’t demonstrated how those discussions are actually impacting on RIBA policy.’
Brady questions RIBA decision-making process