Training and Enterprise Councils have set themselves new standards for local accountability which could become a model for governing bodies in further and higher education institutions.
The TEC National Council launched its accountability framework, which took 12 months to draw up and has the full support of its member organisations, at the TEC national conference in Birmingham today.
The framework aims to clarify the relationship between TECs, central government and the local community, and to act as a TEC "charter" based on the principles of openness, integrity and accountability.
TEC heads have agreed to:
* involve local communities in the selection of directors
* report the remuneration of chief executives
* consult widely on corporate plans
* maintain a board membership which reflects local interests
* register conflicts of interest of directors or employees over contracts.
The move was hailed by TEC national policy director Chris Humphries as "a step beyond anything Lord Nolan and his committee have been asking for on accountability".
The Nolan committee on standards in public life has turned to look at the governance and management of TECs, further education colleges and universities, in the second stage of its deliberations.
Mr Humphries said the TEC national council, in its submission to the Nolan review, had recommended its new framework as a model for local accountability which could be adopted by other organisations receiving public funds, including FE and HE institutions.
The framework may also be able to help to clear up the concerns felt over the relationship between TECs, FE colleges and the Government.
It states that "TECs are independent and local companies holding contracts with central government for the benefit of their local communities".
But this has been disputed by colleges following the collapse of South Thames TEC. They have argued that government is responsible for TEC activities.
Mr Humphries said: "It may be judged that the Government has a stronger role in the running of TECs than that of a mere contractor. It might be seen rather as a shadow director. But that is an issue which may need further clarification."
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