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CAS shake-up in view

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Riba's matchmaking service for architects and clients has come under fire from a members' taskforce for being very expensive for architects and under used.

In a report due to be presented to riba Council this week, the taskforce claims that each of the 4500 requests for architectural services that the client advisory service (cas) received last year cost £50 to administer. It also said that most enquiries do not lead to the appointment of a practice.

The service is free to the public and architects are placed on the register for a £65 fee. The publication of the directory and database created a profit of more than £250,000 last year, the taskforce estimated. Partly as a result of this riba claimed cas is self-funding.

The task force called for a clearer strategic direction and structure for the service. It said there is a lack of cohesion, leadership and direction at cas.

But the consultant charged with masterminding the five year business plan for cas, Caroline Cole, disputed the figures and said that it is impossible to attach a cost to the nomination service without accounting for other parts of cas such as client forums.

However, Cole admitted that change was essential. 'There's an element of truth in this report and it has been an extremely useful starting point,' she said.

The nominations system was particularly criticised for failing to yield large contracts for architects. It said the majority of enquiries were for jobs of less than £30,000.

Director of communications at riba, Roula Konzotis, said that cas may now be established as a non-profit company.

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