The IPA's biennial Congress is the flagship of all our member services or activities. As such, it is vital that overall strategy and planning is integrated and sufficiently long term. At present, various Congress functions are spread around the Treasurer, Programme Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, with the Public Information Committee also having involvement in the Public Relations component. The current mandate for the Programme Committee refers to the Secretary General having overall authority for the planning and delivery of all programming, administrative and social aspects of the Congress and also states that 'The Board has delegated overall authority to the Treasurer, in close consultation with the Secretary General, to deliver the approved budget for the Congress.'
A further issue is the change of administration. Congresses need to be planned several years in advance and under the current arrangements, there is no body on which the President Elect and Secretary General Designate can have a voice before their term of office begins. Given that the mid-term Congress is such a vital component of a four year administration, this is clearly an unsatisfactory arrangement. Typical tasks that need to be completed before the time of the change of administration include deciding on the Congress location and venue, and of course deciding on the style of Congress and whether this will change from the prevailing pattern.
To be absolutely clear, the role of this Working Group is not intended to dilute the Secretary General or Programme Committee's responsibility for the scientific programme but to ensure that the long term planning aspects of congresses are as integrated as possible with the scientific programme and vice versa. For example, at the time of writing in April 2008, we are assessing sites in Mexico City for the 2011 Congress. Should we wish to change the style of Congress the decision would need to be taken by early 2009 at the latest, at a time when there would be no Programme Committee for that Congress, and when the President Elect and Secretary General Designate would only be participating official IPA structures informally. This illustration underlines the need for the Congress Working Group and the long planning cycles inherent in Congress management.
In summary, there are three key issues that the current system does not address:
The need for a body that oversee overall Congress strategy and that integrates the scientific programme with long-term planning and financial aspects
The need for a body that co-ordinates communications and management of all aspects of Congress with the Executive Committee (and Board)
The need for continuity between administration
The overall objective of the Congress Working Group is to create a forum for the integrated management and delivery of IPA Congresses. The Congress Working Group will co-ordinate the overall strategy and implementation of the Congress, with particular emphasis on the long-term, financial and administrative aspects.
The Working Group will co-ordinate all aspects of financial, technical, scientific and administrative planning and decision-making and report back on progress to the Executive Committee and Board.
Among specific tasks that the Working Group will oversee are:
Advising the Board on the Congress location and venue
Long-term planning of Congress style and format etc
Preparing the Congress budget
Integration of work of Committees working on any aspect of Congress delivery including the Programme Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, and Public Information Committee
It is envisaged that the current reporting arrangements and functions of the Programme Committee and Local Arrangements Committee will remain unchanged.