figlogo.gif (1705 bytes)   FIG 22nd General Assembly
  31 May and 4 June 1999
  Sun City, South Africa

Appendix to item 21: Task Force on the Future Governance of FIG



Dr Tom Kennie
Vice-President, FIG

1. Introduction

1.1 Objectives of this paper

This paper has been developed by the Governance Task Force (see below for the list of members) in order to provide a framework for discussing the future governance and management of the FIG. In this context these terms are defined as follows;

Governance - this refers to the processes by which a body assures itself that the long terms interests of its stakeholders are satisfied. In the context of FIG these stakeholders include; the Members (the Member Associations, Affiliate Members, Sponsors and Academic Members), specialist interest groups (Commissions and Task Forces), the clients of surveyors, the employees of FIG, and the general public at large.

Management - this refers to the processes by which a body plans, organises, implements and monitors its day to day operations and administrative matters.

Section 2 of this paper summarises the pressures for change, and highlights some of the key issues that such change brings into sharp relief.

Please consider the questions posed at the end of section 2. In advance of the break-out session you may wish to make some notes of your initial thoughts and reflections on points raised. The Task Force would be happy to receive copies of these written comments for its subsequent deliberations if you are willing to submit them.

1.2 Terms of Reference of Governance Task Force

The terms of reference of the task force as agreed with the Bureau are;

1 To review the governance and management structures of international NGOs in order to set a context for possible changes to FIG post 2007.

2 To consider how to create a governance structure and framework for decision making which ensures an effective balance between the interests of ;

3 To consider how to ensure the process of selecting those responsible for the governance and management of the Federation is transparent and open.

4 In the light of the establishment of a permanent office for the Federation, to consider the nature of the relationship between the governing body and the operational management of the Federation.

The members of the Task Force are:

Tom Kennie - Vice President FIG (Chair)
Chris Andreasen - USA
Chris Hoogsteden - New Zealand
Michel Kasser - France
Holger Magel - Germany
Helge Onsrud - Norway
Stephen Yip - Hong Kong
Sam Zhou - Zimbabwe

2. Some of the Key Pressures for Change

FIG is not alone in facing up to the challenges of the next millenium. As part of its work, the Task Force has looked at how other NGOs operate. According to the Union of International Associations (see, there are in excess of 38,000 international NGO's; if you then add other Inter Governmental Bodies, Regional Bodies and Networks, the number comes close to 50,000! Each has its own governance and management structure, each reflecting its history and traditions. No specific model has been identified that meets all the needs of FIG.

In seeking to promote debate about the future of the Federation it should be stressed that no decisions will be made at this stage. It is, however, vital that the debate is initiated. Some of the influences, which emphasise the need for a fundamental review of the framework for governing and managing FIG, are as follows;

2.1 Need for Enhanced Levels of Flexibility and Adaptability

To continue to be able to respond to changing conditions it is vital that the FIG structure enables the organisation to respond quickly and effectively, whilst at the same time ensuring that appropriate levels of accountability exist. The changes impacting on the professions of surveying demand that professionals and professional bodies adapt and change. The recent changes to the statutes will undoubtedly help the FIG to achieve this, it is, however, considered by the task force that the pace of change demands even greater levels of adaptability.

Key Issues: Will the existing governing framework be sufficiently adaptable to accommodate to the rapid pace of change impacting on the Federation over the next 10-20 years?

What are the key factors that will force change on the operating procedures of FIG and how should FIG respond?

2.2 Need for More Effective Policy and Decision Making Structures

The future of FIG as an effective international NGO has and will continue to rely on the active involvement of its member associations and contributors to its technical work. The existing structure has served the Federation well during its first 100 years. For the past 20 or so years, however, as a result of the pace of change mentioned in 2.1, the need for more rapid policy formulation and decision making has put pressure on the existing arrangements. The present General Assembly (GA) has become a cumbersome forum for decision making. The physical layout of the room in which GA's take place tends to encourage a more adversarial rather than collaborative approach to decision making. Furthermore, over time, the agenda for GA have increased in length, often dealing with operational issues which could be delegated.

Key Issues: How can the structure of the Federation adapt in such a way as to further enhance the speed with which policy decisions are confirmed and implemented ?

Would, for example, it be more appropriate to hold a General Assembly every two years (as the French Members have suggested) rather than every year as now and delegate more responsibility to the Bureau or to Executive Committees that are empowered to deal with specific items such as finance, membership relations, revisions of statutes, or international affairs?

2.3 Need for Enhanced Geographical Involvement

The existing approach to governing and managing the Federation involves the selection of a location for the Congress which in turn leads to the nomination of candidates for the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary General, Treasurer and Congress Director. As a consequence 5 of the management posts on the Bureau are from a single country. Whilst the continuity provided by the nominee from the outgoing Bureau and incoming Bureau provides the possibility of involving persons from a wider geographical area, it is somewhat limited. In future continuity will, above all, be provided by the FIG Office.

Key Issues: How could the existing structure be modified to provide for the involvement of persons from a wider geographical area ?

Should the Bureau or Management Board be enlarged to include representatives of all regions and all surveying interest groups ?

2.4 Need for Enhanced Levels of Openness and Transparency

The existing approach to appointing members of the Bureau is one which is primarily the responsibility of the Member Association which is successful in winning the bid to host the 4 yearly congress. The member association identifies and nominates the members of the Bureau who are then endorsed by the General Assembly. The GA is rarely able to make a realistic judgement of the candidates who are proposed and often the individuals proposed may have had limited experience of working within the FIG structure. Furthermore by limiting membership of the Bureau to the Member Association who is successful in winning the bid to host the congress, is the Federation excluding very experienced senior members of FIG who would be able to make a very major contribution to its future development ?

Key Issues : Is the current method of selecting members of the Bureau able to identify those with most experience of FIG ?

How can the process of selecting candidates be made more open to ALL members and more transparent in how it is conducted ?

2.5 Need for Increased Levels of Involvement

Over the past 5-10 years the activities of the Federation have been managed to increase the numbers of individuals who are involved in its work. Through the work of ACCO, in particular, Commission chairs have become more actively involved, although some might suggest that for the future the increasing demands on the Commission Chairs could act as a disincentive for some candidates to stand for office. Nonetheless the success of ACCO has been in the active and collaborative way in which the group has taken ownership for driving forward the work of the Federation. For the future this model needs to be built upon in order to increase the involvement of other groups in the work of the Federation. In particular the member associations need to feel that they are playing a proactive role in the future evolution of the Federation.

Key Issue: What mechanisms could be used to increase the involvement of practitioners in the work of the Federation, consistent with the economic resources available ? In particular, how can member associations become more actively involved?

2.6 Need for Involvement of a New Generation of Contributors to FIG

FIG is a special type of international body, one which leads to strong and lasting friendships, many continuing for 20 years and more. This has clear benefits and helps assure the ongoing work of the Federation. On the less positive side, however, this has, over the past 15 years or so led to a dramatic 'greying' of the active membership. The number of new, younger faces involved in the past 5 years has been limited (particularly in comparison to other comparable international bodies). The Bureau has already set up a Task Force to investigate ways of increasing the involvement of less represented groups of members but more needs to be done.

Key Issue : How can we ensure that the long term involvement of some members is balanced by the involvement of a new, younger generation of members (as delegates, members of commission working groups etc.) ?

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