Memorandum submitted by the Institute
of Association Management (IAM)
(a) The Institute of Association Management (IAM) is
the leading independent professional body comprising chief executives
and other senior personnel responsible for the management, development
and governance of professional institutions, learned societies
and other representative bodies. IAM's membership includes senior
managers of organisations which are the subject of this inquiry.
Many of these organisations play a significant role in the advancement
of science and technology and therefore the economy of this country.
Some are also affiliated to the Engineering Council UK and the
(b) This Institute was founded in 1933.
It is an unincorporated association and is funded through membership
subscriptions and income from conferences, donations and training
initiatives etc. IAM does not receive any form of government funding
and is entirely self-financing.
This Institute welcomes the Science and Technology
Committee's inquiry into the funding of scientific learned societies.
We hope that it will lead to a more transparent, rational and
equitable approach to future funding as this has been a matter
of concern to the Institute and its members for some time. We
are pleased to offer this text as IAM's contribution to the Committee's
inquiry and we would be pleased to give oral evidence if invited
to do so.
(a) IAM urges government to continue funding independent
learned societies. They perform an important role in society,
regulate the professions they serve and are an authoritative source
of objective advice to governments and the public. However, we
also urge the government to spread available funds more equitably
and to refrain from the "patronage" of a few.
(b) IAM urges government to review the funding
criteria for learned societies and to create a new funding framework.
Such framework to take account of:
(i) the extent to which a body is financially
sustainable and self-supporting;
(ii) a body's policies in relation to inclusivity,
equal opportunities, sustainable development and ethical behaviour.
(c) IAM takes the view that funding criteria
should, generally, be based on principles of "additionality"
with government funds supporting new work and not necessarily
the core activities of a learned society.
(d) IAM believes that funding should be
conditional and justified by a Strategic Plan. The Plan should
include targets, performance indicators and a methodology that
will enable government to assess performance against the Plan
and the achievement of value for money.
(e) IAM urges government to consider a much
broader range of learned societies for allocation of funds using
a set of criteria which is fair, open and transparent embracing
value for money tests.
(f) IAM urges the government to support
and incentivise closer collaboration between learned societies
that share a common role and remit.
(a) IAM's evidence on the funding of learned societies
is based on the following key issues:
(i) confirmation of the role of learned societies.
(ii) the need for a framework for funding;
(iii) the case for widening access to government
(b) For the purposes of this evidence this
Institute's definition of "learned society" includes
any independent learned society or professional body that applies
knowledge and expertise necessary for the good and beneficial
governance of membership organisations. We specifically exclude
those bodies which hold political or commercial affiliations.
(a) Learned societies and professional bodies perform
a unique role. The majority are independent of political and commercial
interests and rely on the voluntary efforts of their members.
They care about their profession and are committed to the common
good. Therefore, these learned bodies play a critical role in
providing independent expert advice to government, the public,
fellow professionals and others; regulation of the profession
and professionals they serve; education and training; professional
development; research and much more besides. They provide a platform
for objective debate on the critical scientific and technological
issues of the day and the very best are forward-thinking, providing
innovative solutions to pressing social needs. IAM suggests that
if learned societies did not exist they would have to be created
or, government itself would have to perform many of the functions
they now provide.
(b) IAM is aware that successive governments
have expressed a view that there are too many bodies serving similar
professional interests leading to conflicting advice and duplication
of effort. The need for closer collaboration of learned societies
to create a single authoritative voice has, to some extent, been
heeded and there is now a Science Council which acts as an over-arching
body for science-based learned societies and professional bodies.
Its creation is a welcome development.
(c) Although the IAM is not a federation
of like-minded bodies it does bring together the chief executives
of NGOs, societies, associations and institutions. Collectively,
therefore, we represent senior personnel of bodies from all aspects
of science, technology and industry. We hope that the government
will recognise the value of our role and allow the Institute to
contribute to the delivery of its social and other priorities
as a result of this inquiry.
(d) Initiatives that lead to collaboration
between learned societies, and those who manage their affairs,
are to be applauded. They deserve government support since it
is government that will be a key beneficiary. The process by which
government is informed and advised, under such arrangements, will
rationalise the consultation and advisory process. This Institute
urges the government to consider incentivising any cluster of
learned societies, that share common aims and objectives, in order
to encourage them to co-ordinate their activities.
(a) IAM believes that government should continue to fund
learned societiesmany of them continue to make a tremendous
contribution to the health, wealth, culture and standing of this
country. They also make a significant contribution to the advancement
and application of science and engineering for the public benefit.
Much of this excellent work is undertaken by members of learned
societies on a voluntary basis and IAM believes that so much more
could be achieved if some of the available (or any additional)
funding was directed to those bodies who currently do not benefit
from government support. That only a select few learned societies
receive government support represents an opportunity lost. IAM
believes that there is an urgent need to review the current funding
structure and to establish a new framework for funding based on
merit, value for money and sound management principles. For example,
funded bodies should demonstrate that they are inclusive and have
policies in relation to equal opportunities. They should also
show that they are committed to sustainability and operate within
an acceptable code of ethics. Such bodies should be open, inclusive
and committed to delivering outputs which serve their profession,
inform the public and contribute to social priorities.
(b) Government funding should be conditional
and relate to a prescribed programme of activities, targets and
performance indicators which show how a funded body is contributing
to innovation, excellence and a better public understanding of
science and engineering. We also advocate that a learned society
be required to submit to government a Strategic Plan justifying
initial and continued funding. Such bodies should report, annually
to government, on actual performance against the Plan.
(c) IAM understands that, in any new framework
for the funding of learned societies, government may not wish
to underwrite core activities and overheads. This Institute certainly
believes that such bodies should be self-financing and that government
funding should be provided on the "additionality" principle.
That is, funding should support projects and initiatives that
a learned society could not otherwise fund from its own resources
but for which there is a demonstrable need. Government funding
of these "value added" projects should, by definition,
lead to innovation and better practice, have measurable outputs,
be demand led, meet social priorities and offer better value for
money than the current funding arrangements.
6. WIDENING ACCESS
(a) Currently, only a small proportion of learned societies
receive government funding. This seems to be based largely on
historical practice and discounts the potential of many other
learned societies to contribute to social and government priorities.
Many of the bodies that do not receive government funding could
easily make a case for doing so. The fact that there is no obvious
mechanism for accessing available funds is unfair. It discriminates
against those learned societies with an excellent track record
of achievement in favour of an elite few who are effectively "subsidised"
by the taxpayer and who do not necessarily represent the views
or activities of other bodies.
(b) The current funding regime, under which
the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and certain
other bodies receive significant amounts of government funds,
is not only discriminatory but gives the impression that other
learned societies are not worthy of support or recognition. This
"smacks" of exclusivity and should be changed. It perpetuates
a tradition which is no longer relevant in a modern, more accountable
world where greater transparency is, or should be, the norm. The
government funding and "patronage" that certain bodies
now enjoy may have been appropriate one and two hundred years,
or more, ago but a modern world with a different ethos and culture
demands that the reasons for continuing with that approach are
vigorously tested. Other learned bodies must be allowed to make
their case. This is the basis of good public governance and should
be regarded as part of the modernisation of government.
(a) IAM welcomes this inquiry. We urge the government
to continue to fund learned societies but within the context of
a new funding regime and framework. This Institute advocates a
system which is modern, inclusive, transparent, encourages outputs
that meet social priorities and recognises the potential contribution
of all learned societies to the improved health, culture and economy
of this country.
(b) In supporting a fairer and more transparent
funding system for learned societies we advocate that such funds
should not, without good reason, be used to underwrite a body's
core activities or overhead costs. We firmly believe in the principle
of "additionality" with funds being used for specific
initiatives that are relevant to social and government objectives
and that a body would not otherwise be able to undertake. All
bids for government funding should be supported by a Strategic
Plan showing measurable outputs.
(c) Finally, IAM urges government to encourage
those learned societies, that share common aims and objectives,
to work co-operatively in clusters or partnerships. It is in government's
interest that learned societies come together and speak authoritatively
with one voice and reduce the incidences of repetition and duplication
of effort. The funding mechanism could be used to offer incentives
for so doing.