On many MICE tenders, both private and public sector procurement departments include the requirement of certain specific association membership in order to be either considered for a tender or to be placed on their preferred suppliers list. This tender pre-requisite is particularly prevalent within the public sector.
Several MICE industry pundits have voiced concern as this procurement requirement is not only constitutionally unacceptable, but also devoid of any authenticity.
The MICE Academy’s Professional Planner Standards initiative states that, within tender submission, as a membership benefit, unless association membership carries an effective monitoring and recourse ability for procurement management – the inclusion of association membership as a pre-requisite is ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’.
Being signatory to a member association’s Code of Conduct or Practice is an insufficient base as a number of planners' service providers join an appropriate association once - only for the very purpose of gaining a membership certificate. Their certification is touted for years thereafter in order to be on various tender lists. No checks take place by either the member association or the procurement departments as to the ongoing use of almost dog-eared one-time member certification.
The fact that membership certificates are out-of-date or not even vaguely checked merely confirms the inadequacy of an association membership for tender purposes.
One of the reasons member associations do not fuss about the certification misuse is primarily due to a boost in membership numbers. And even if member associations did make an issue of the misuse, the lack of monitoring and real-time recourse would remain.
It is prudent to remember that compliance testing on a range of planning tasks should be the ultimate established means of procurement requirements for all planning services with the ‘built-in’ re-course opportunities well embedded within the process.