ICE COUNCIL has voted to delegate many of its administrative duties to an enlarged executive board to allow it to devote more time to tackling real engineering issues.
The move to refocus Council away from the day to day running of the Institution to the wider issues facing the profession was a key aim of Mark Whitby's presidential year and comes in time for Council's most visible meeting in its history.
The next meeting of Council is to be held at Civils 2002 at the NEC in Birmingham in June, and will be open for all members to view.
At the meeting, members can expect to see 51 of the profession's most senior figures debating whether sustainability should form a mandatory part of civil engineering education.
Sustainability was chosen as the topic of debate after Council unanimously voted to ring-fence time at its meeting to discuss engineering issues.
'The idea behind the debates is to drive innovation within the engineering boards and technical panels by giving them a forum to showcase their good work and highlight their successes. This will give us, as Council, the opportunity to debate the issues, vote on a way forward and then push the publicity, ' explained graduate member Brian Pope, who presented the paper alongside fellow graduate member Nicola Bowen.
'However, it is no good Council debating topical issues for the sake of it. There has to be a conclusion or a result from the discussions, either as a press release or a strongly worded policy statement, ' said Pope. 'I will be working on a framework for the debates over the next few months in order to make sure these issues are addressed.'
The change in focus was made possible after an earlier vote to confirm expansion of the executive board, allowing Council to delegate more decision making on administrative issues.
'An organisation like this, with a turnover of £8M, doesn't need 50-odd people to debate finance for an hour and a half once every two months, ' said territorial member for Northern Ireland David Orr. 'This is much better left to capable administrators. Let's get back to the roots of this Council and the Institution and start debating the real engineering issues.'
To allow the executive board to take greater responsibility, it will be expanded to include five elected members of Council to sit alongside the president and vice presidents.
At present, three Council members sit on the board alongside president, vice presidents and immediate past president.
The full extent of the powers delegated to the new executive board will be confirmed at the next Council meeting, but are likely to include setting of fees and subscriptions, drawing up and expenditure of the annual budget, establishment and constitution of local associations, and approval of publications.