Scouting Ireland have announced the establishment of a National Management Committee sponsored ‘Governance Committee’, charged with putting together robust governance structures for the association.
This is a welcome development.
One of the more desirable aspects (and there were many) of the rejected Vision 2020 initiative was the establishment of an internal audit committee. Whilst the detail behind this was sparse and the scope of work associated with the committee not specified, it signaled a seeming acceptance within the leadership of Scouting Ireland that current levels of transparency around decision-making are not up to the standards demanded by current best practice in the arena of governance.
The Governance Committee now being established would seem to be planning to use a governance framework already widely in use by charities and other organizations’ in Ireland (see www.governancecode.ie for more detail on the framework).
Good governance has become very topical in the Irish media in recent months, with several unpleasant revelations coming to light in a number of charitable entities, complete with the resultant reputational damage to the entity in question and the personal credentials of some individuals also being affected. Given the amount of revenue (in terms of members funds and exchequer subvention) that pour into Scouting Ireland’s National Office each year, members of the association are entitled to a lot more data on all aspects of how our association is run.
With a residual culture of secrecy seemingly still present among some volunteer management and some professional staff, where the default position is to take the view that ‘information is power’ and thus should not be shared any more than absolutely necessary, the majority of volunteer office holders and professionals who are seeking to emulate best practice in all areas of how the association operates need a robust framework against which to hold all decision-makers to account.
The governance code framework is designed to be easy to use. It minimizes administration and looks likely to greatly simplify the quest for transparency, giving members and other stakeholders’ confidence and allowing office holders to get on with their jobs.
The composition of the committee looks to be broadly reassuring, with several high-profile scouters on board, however the presence of professional staff representation (albeit in the form of a professional of proven calibre) is surely inappropriate, given this risks stifling meaningful discussion around any potential governance issues related to professionals and their role within the organization? Equally, the committee has no youth representation, no female representation and is heavy with lawyers (notwithstanding the fact that the lawyers present are very eminent ones, should a vitally important committee such as this not also feature some non-experts?).
Nonetheless as an opening move, it is a significant step in the right direction and the calibre of people involved bode well for the outputs.
Theirishscouter, like many scouters will await news of the committee’s work with great interest.