Five things to know about the RICS External Examiner | Characteristics

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has appointed Michael Bichard, a former senior official, to lead a major external review of its governance and future focus.

A job posting for the post in October called for candidates who have an “impeccable personal reputation” with “substantial and demonstrable senior management experience” – and that has served a true giant of the public service world.

>> RICS governance scandal: Coverage in one place

Here are five things you need to know about the man who was tasked with setting the future direction of one of the construction industry’s most influential professional institutions.

He was a reformist permanent secretary

Bichard was permanent secretary of the former Department of Education and Employment under John Major and Tony Blair, and has previously been approached to become cabinet secretary.

He oversaw major changes in education policy, including the establishment in 2001 of the Learning and Skills Council, a non-ministerial body responsible for funding higher education in England.

He gained a reputation as an agitator in Whitehall who wanted to shake up and modernize the obsolete public service machine that had developed under Thatcher and Major.

When Blair came to power in 1997, Bichard showed him a powerpoint presentation on how the civil service could be modernized.

It was reported at the time that Blair ignored the suggestions, and then dismissed Bichard in selecting a new cabinet secretary in favor of the more manageable Robin Butler.

He led an influential Whitehall think tank

Bichard was the first director of the Institute for Government, an independent think tank established in 2008 that provides research and analysis on how government can be more effective.

Under Bichard’s leadership at the end of the New Labor years under Gordon Brown, he became influential in recommending reforms to the civil service.

Further changes came after the coalition government’s spending review in 2010, which led to major cuts in public spending and forced ministries to try and do more more cheaply.

In its Transforming Whitehall report, the think tank looked at how departments cope with any change – while Bichard expressed the view in 2010 that a complete overhaul of governance structures in response to failure is “tempting. »But rarely effective.

Instead, he said the answer should be “to look at the business model, redesign the service, then look at the structure and decide if it’s fit for purpose.”

He is in favor of granting more powers to non-executives on boards of directors

In an opinion piece in April, Bichard wrote that non-executives sitting on ministry boards should be allowed to discuss politics.

The councils, which are chaired by secretaries of state and include other ministers and officials, are currently limited by guidelines that prevent them from discussing strategy and policy development.

Bichard said removing this rule would allow non-managers “to play a powerful and much more useful role in improving the planning and execution of the government’s political intentions.”

The Levitt report found that the financial report at the center of the RICS scandal had been withheld from the non-executives of the institution’s board of directors for more than seven months.

Levitt said the scandal exploded over a “power struggle”, compounded by a lack of clarity on the responsibilities of senior RICS officials – something Bichard will seek to resolve.

He investigated the Soham murders

In 2004, Bichard was appointed by David Blunkett, his former boss at the Department for Education and Employment, to chair an inquiry into the 2002 murders of two 10-year-old girls in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

He was tasked with investigating how the vetting system allowed convicted murderer Ian Huntley to work as a school warden despite a long record of sexual offenses.

The inquest criticized the police for their handling of data on Huntley’s criminal allegations, which had been suppressed because it had not resulted in any convictions.

Bichard’s recommendation for the introduction of a compulsory registration system for people working with children led to the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

He’s friends with shoe designer Jimmy Choo

After leaving the civil service in 2001, Bichard was appointed rector of the then London Institute, which later became London University of the Arts.

The career change brought an unexpected new circle of friends, one of which was high-end shoe designer Jimmy Choo. “The fact that I can now say that Jimmy Choo is a friend is just wonderful,” he said in 2008.

Bichard’s foray into the art world continued in 2007 when he got the post of chairman of the Design Council, a government-created charity in 1944 to champion good British design.

He has used his post not only to promote well-designed consumer products, but also to talk about the role that design can play in improving public services and governance structures.

Shirlene J. Manley