BAJR Federation Archaeology

Full Version: IfA campaign to require archaeological work to be undertaken by ROs
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dont worry about the ifa they are not important in any shape or form
In response to digginthedirt:

My comment on the lack of demand and over-supply simply reflects the clear fact that there is less development and a consequent drop off in archaeological contracts at the moment. I believe your perception of customer apathy to quality is a separate matter to supply and demand. It also focuses on the archaeological product and overlooks the degree to which it is legitimate for customers' expectations to centre on the regulatory and commercial solutions they require. I fear there is scope for criticism from either party, if either choose to look at respective priorities from polar positions. I prefer not to overstate this tension and do not experience the development market as wholly indifferent to archaeological aspirations. To perpetuate an indifferent developer myth does not help foster better relationships with the development and construction industry. If we ensure customers see us for our ability to offer commercial and regulatory insights and demonstrate we can deliver these by means of our technical expertise, there are prospects to move away from the low-cost model whilst retaining our aspirations as archaeologists.

I have many concerns regarding barriers to entry, but principally it is an unnecessary and crude effort at market engineering and seems to be advanced as an alternative to essential structural change on the supply side; sadly as recent events show some ROs will continue to fixate on price even within the RO scheme. IfA has yet to demonstrate how it will be able to police the system effectively, nor how its role will relate to that of the curatorial network, which at least has a clear remit and means of enforcement, as advisors to the planning authorities who set the regulatory requirements governing the work. It also results in a fundamental shift within the IfA, away from the membership, creating opportunities for ROs, to act collectively in their own narrow interest, something that is seemingly already apparent. It seriously risks reducing the plurality and capability, especially among smaller organisations that offer a local or specialist services, who reasonably might not wish to submit to yet further regulatory controls, especially as this may involve scrutiny by individuals belonging to larger aggressive commercial rivals. I cannot see how it could be administered without a significant expansion of the IfA, which would place a burden of cost on the membership, who surely don?t deserve yet more pain. The list can go on, but there is also the question of whether it would be legal for the IfA to operate a mechanism for member organisations that has the potential of a cartel, and even if this hurdle could be cleared, there is no guarantee that the market would accept barriers to their right to procure services as they see fit.

I do indeed feel that these factors impede solutions to the current problems and there are business models that could be developed as an alternative. Whilst there are differences in the way that archaeological contractors and consultant organisations operate, the underlying business propositions are not so different and there is also a wide overlap in the products offered, ie contractors provide planning advice and some consultancies design, procure and manage fieldwork projects. However, consultancies have a far better record on pricing and offer generally improved terms for employees, reflecting success in aligning their products with the commercial and regulatory expectations of customers. The case of Headland Archaeology described in a recent Daily Telegraph article shows willingness of some archaeological contractors to adopt similar business practices. If more organisations were to implement such a change in business culture a more sustainable outcome can be achieved.
IfA ' 'Council also affirmed its prioritisation of any initiatives that will lead to the preference of accredited professional archaeologists and the rectification of market failure that such preference could bring. Such rectification should result in, and will be expected by IfA to result in, significantly increased benefits and rewards for the employees of Registered Organisations.'

I am a little bit confused by this opening statement. In previous discussions within IfA the issue of accreditation was with regard to compliance with the Valetta Convention - to get away from the current soft Government response that the planning system (PPG16) regulated standards of work to the extent that we were in compliance with the Convention. In other words, accreditation was for individuals and was a step towards reaching and maintaining high standards in archaeology. The arguments basically centred on how we could create an accreditation scheme that allowed full participation for all sectors of the archaeological community - commercial and non-commercial. This is where the push towards Chartered status should be taking us.

How has this now become linked with 'significantly increased benefits and rewards for employees of Registered Organisations'? Employees of ROs are already tied into standards through adherence to IfA Standards and Guidance documents and this would not change as a result of any accreditation scheme.

Consultants such as myself can advise clients that RO status for contractors represents one way in which competence can be assessed, but I would not like to be told by a curator or anyone else that I can recommend only ROs. This is way too close to a closed shop position - any contractor that is not an RO would find it difficult to survive.

Personal accreditation represents one way to increase standards, another is through increased reporting and investigation of poor standards with regard to IfA members and ROs.

Increased benefits and rewards for RO employees is an entirely different matter, and one that it is legitimate for IfA to get involved in - but it needs to be a bit more subtle than the setting up of a closed shop for contractors.

To be fair to IfA they have set out a position on pursuing barriers to entry based on an accredited RO scheme for at least the last 18 months. They have tended to dwell on the advantages to the RO 'brand'. I'm not aware of any official statement regarding disadvantages to non-RO employed members.


I was surprised when I trying to get back into archaeology (as yet unsuccessfully) from working in industry that more organisations wernt RO as it seemed to be the obviously accredited body. Im talking about local gov organisations by the way and not small contract units.
beamo Wrote:Personal accreditation represents one way to increase standards, another is through increased reporting and investigation of poor standards with regard to IfA members and ROs.

Don't disagree with all that you said, but on this specific point - the latter part of this sentence would probably lead to an increase in standards within IfA, but not to those outside it. Which is the whole point about accreditation. Unless someone is willing to take a stand and say that the only way to raise standards is to ensure that everyone meets at least a minimum, then you continue with the system where anyone can tender for work and the archaeologists role continues to be undervalued.
Which is hopefully what Curators are supposed to do... The ALGAO angle on this would be interesting. After all, in a way they are the professions police force. (OR are they??) Curators are there to ensure standards are met, or they won't agree to conditions being lifted
I can see what you're saying, but I would also make a couple of points based on that.

1. ALGAO don't set standards. the only people who do that at the moment are IfA.
2. They only have power to *advise* the planners - and in most cases only on planning applications. Not on, for example, permitted development.
I was going to change my post to advice planners to remove conditions (but thought, hey... why let people know they have no real power - always irked me I can tell you!)

ALGAO should be using teh standards created by the IfA. and that's my pint, is that everyone has a role.. when there is too much treading into others areas, then things get murky.

The IfA are not a police force, though they can judge their own members, they are not a union (PROSPECT), they are not an employers Group (FAME) they don't have black and white bristle (BAJR) - ok, I was pushing the last one Wink

So the IfA is a Standards and Guidance group - which is good, as it was all a bit messy before. IT can also deal with Training and Validation. but surely, thats the line drawn?
e learning would be good for spot dating but you couldn't ascribe hands on textual experience to that unless museums get involved by providing paid for services in looking over the material assemblage for gaining experience. free, next to free and professional (field mud clod to post-ex finds specialist) workshops.

this way the assemblage access also increases the financial return into museum curatorial engagement and money for displays with increased data collection interface for wider public learning and

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