WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RIPA?

Published date01 December 1993
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9299.1993.tb00987.x
AuthorIVOR SHELLEY
Date01 December 1993
WHAT
HAPPENED
TO
THE
RIPA?
IVOR SHELLEY
The financial history
of
the
RIPA
from its incorporation as
a
company in
1976
to
I989
was
a
volatile one; but there had been sufficient good years to justify cautious optimism
as we entered
1990/91.
However,
a
combination
of
circumstances
-
which,
if
they had
occurred separately might have been overcome
-
were, taken together, to deliver the
Institute
a
mortal blow. These led to a deteriorating cash-flow position. This looked to
have been eased
by
a
major restructuring and the sale
of
the International Division, but
when the
1991/92
accounts were finalized the
loss
for
the year was revealed
as
f241.000
and there was an excess
of
liabilities over assets
of
f231,000.
An
appeal was launched
to corporate members, but before
the
results
of
this could
be
fully
tested, the cash-flow
position once again became critical and the bank lost confidence in the Institute’s
ability to trade out
of
its difficulties. The Council had no alternative but to proceed to
receivership.
As
I
hope most people now know the Royal Institute
of
Public Administration,
after a distinguished history spanning seventy years, went into administrative
receivership on
15
July
1992.
In this article
I
seek to describe the events which
led
up
to the Institute’s tragic demise and, in
so
doing, indicate the complex
factors which brought this about.
There are advantages and disadvantages in doing this only six months after
the
RIPA folded. On the plus side, the events are still relatively fresh in the
mind and
the
memory sufficiently strong to provide a valuable adjunct to
the
documentary sources. On the minus side, the events are almost too recent to
be writing about them.
I
was very close
to
the action during the financial year
1991/92
and in the thick
of
it thereafter. There is great value in being able to
stand sufficiently well back from
the
unfolding
of
events to feel satisfied
of
achieving
the
right level
of
objectivity.
I
have tried
to
do that, but distance in
time would have greatly helped. These recollections are inevitably tinged with
sadness.
I
worked for the RIPA for over thirty years.
I
cherished the values for
which
it
stood and
I
strongly believe that, until such time as ways
and
means
Ivor
Shelley,
OBE,
was
formerly
Director
of
the
Royal
Institute
of
Public
Administration.
Prior
to
that
he
was
for
twenty years Director
of
its
UK
Services.
Public
Administration
Vol.
71
Winter
1993 (471-489)
0
Basil
Blackwell
Ltd.
1993,108
Cowley
Road,
Oxford
0x4
C IF,
UK
and
238
Main
Street, Cambridge,
MA
02142,
USA.
472
IVOR
SHELLEY
are found to build upon what it sought
to
do, public administration will be the
poorer for its absence from the scene.
Having expressed doubts about
the
wisdom
of
writing this piece now,
I
am
deeply conscious that there are many people in public administration around
the
world who wish to know more about what happened
to
the
RIPA.
I
hope
that what follows will help to enlighten them.
It
is a personal account and there
will no doubt be those who will question some points
of
interpretation or hold
a different view as to why certain events occurred. That is their right.
I
can
only claim here to outline what happened as
I
saw it. Inevitably it is simplified.
The rapid development
of
issues, the sometimes unexpected twists and turns in
events, often on a daily basis, cannot easily be captured in the context
of
an
article. In the fullness
of
time,
it
may
be
possible to retread this path in a wider,
and perhaps more satisfying, historical context.
BIRTH
AND
GROWTH
For the benefit
of
those who are not familiar with the origins and development
of
the RIPA up
to
recent times it may be helpful
to
record a few basic historical
facts. Fuller details can be found in
two
articles written by former Director
Raymond Nottage and Freida Stack on the occasion
of
the Institute’s Golden
Jubilee in
1972
(‘Public Administration’, Autumn and Winter
1972,
pp.
281-304
and
419-46).
The Institute was founded in
1922
as an independent organization to develop
the civil service and other public services (both national and local) as a recognized
profession and to promote the study
of
public administration. It owed its
existence to the major staff associations in the public services and particularly
to the Society
of
Civil Servants.
It began life solely as an individual membership organization and remained
so
for nearly thirty years. Two
of
its earliest initiatives were the foundation
of
this journal in
1923
and
of
the Haldane Essay Competition in
1924.
The
years
before the Second World War were also to see the development
of
major lecture
and conference programmes; the establishment of regional groups, with their
own activities, both in the
UK
and overseas, particularly Australia;
the
support
of
individual research initiatives and the development
of
links with the
uni-
versities. Despite its undoubted achievements during this period, by
1939
the
Institute was still a very small organization, numbering no more than
2,300
individual members,
of
whom
800
were overseas. The founders had been
frustrated in their attempt to establish the Institute as a fully professional body,
administering and regulating a standard administrative qualification applicable
across
the
whole
of
the public service. As
an
active learned society, however,
it
had fully justified its existence.
The post-war years brought a new strategy.
A
full-time Director was
appointed in
1947.
The hoped for growth in individual membership having not
occurred, membership in
1950
was opened to corporate bodies; this was
eventually
to
lead
to
institutional support from many parts
of
the public sector
0
Basil
Blackwell
Ltd.
1993

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