COI/ DBA meeting fails to settle roster dispute

The row between the Design Business Association and the Central Office of Information over consultancies being made to pay for submitting credentials is rumbling on, despite last week’s meeting between the two bodies.

The COI maintains cash for information is not an issue, while the DBA continues to protest at the practice. “As far as we are concerned, the situation is resolved because that is how we carry out our business. This is how we operate for the moment,” says a COI spokesman.

But DBA chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill counters: “This matter is not resolved. I wouldn’t expect the COI to change things halfway through a financial year, but we will continue to point out that it is unacceptable to have to pay for the privilege of being on a roster. This is partly about the money and partly because it is an injustice.”

Rowland-Hill has confirmed that he will report details of the meeting to the DBA board of directors at the next meeting in April. He will send a written report in the meantime asking for members’ views.

Meanwhile, Rowland-Hill has launched a scathing attack on the the COI’s position as both procurement agency and design service provider. “I increasingly question the design function of the COI,” he says.

“Effective design comes from strong relationships based on trust. That scenario is easier when there are two parties instead of three – the Government department, the COI and the consultancy. Government departments should be responsible for managing and purchasing services, not the COI,” he adds.

The COI spokesman says it is trying to improve its design arrangements across the board. It is putting together a roster and trying to take “a sideways step” into more of a project management role.

“This will provide a more co-ordinated response that can only benefit the services produced,” he claims.

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