Thursday, April 30, 2015

This is not a folk song II

Leading on from yesterday's posting, in which we explored the absence from the English Chess Federation minutes of any apparent reference to the decision to create an online forum that nobody wants.

While I was hunting about in the minutes from last spring and summer I also found myself - God, I know how to live - trying to find any reference to the English Seniors Championship which, as per our post from two weeks ago, went disastrously wrong.

When I originally emailed the CEO, Phil Ehr, on 4 November 2014, I asked him:
Were tenders invited for the award for the event?
When I finally got a reply from him, on 7 January 2015, I received the response
Yes, from approximately the full month of November 2013.
OK.I'm not sure what "approximately the full month" means, but that's not of any importance - let's take it as November 2013 and let's bear in mind approximately. Where can we find any reference to the award of the event in the Board minutes?

There's nothing on the subject, as far as I can see, in the minutes for the meeting of 1 November.

OK, that's very early in November, how about 22 November? Not as far as I can see.

Maybe a little after November itself? 16 December? I looked but did not find.

Possibly even 19 January 2014? Nothing that was visible to my eyes.

OK, let's work backwards from November instead. 12 October possibly? Possibly not. 8 September? Not a sausage. 4 August? You'll be lucky.

So, rendered curious by this apparent absence, I emailed Phil Ehr and asked:
I am not able to find any reference in the published minutes to the award of the event. Where is it recorded?
That was on January 17. Today is the last day of April and I am still without a reply.

- - -

Now I am of course aware that the period involved was a chaotic one for the Federation and that one of the consequences of this chaos was that the Minutes of Board meetings were long-delayed in their production. Still, they were finally produced and they are supposed to be accurate reflections of those meetings. And yet, as with the decision to create a controversial online forum, the decision to outsource a controversial event is not apparently reported.

Once again, no paper trail, no record, no proper procedure.

Which is exactly what you don't want when an event has been outsourced to somebody who was on the Board of Directors at the time. Because it's a conflict of interest.

You can't avoid conflicts of interests in a world as small as English chess, but you can make sure that when there is a conflict of interest and something goes wrong, everything is in proper order. That decisions are recorded where members can see them and everything is transparent. That's not difficult. In fact it's elementary. It's elementary good practice.

It shouldn't be hard to do. It also shouldn't be hard to answer a simple email question about it. And probably it should also be possible to explain how it is that the ECF managed to donate a thousand pounds to a prize fund which consisted of only seven hundred and fifty.


Anonymous said...

I would imagine that they donated 1000 to the event, and did not specify that the 1000 could only be allocated to the prize fund. This would probably be regarded by most people as a small, forgivable error. Yet, if this was the case, why not just say so? -theblueweasel-

Anonymous said...

The ECF has directly elected executive directors who cover various functional areas. I would have thought they should take direct decisions without those decisions being brought before the whole board. Indeed at least one ex-director has commented that under Phil Ehr as CEO, he no longer had an autonomy to take his own direction.

The 2014 English Senior Championships is embarrassing to the ECF. It was bad enough when the organiser cancelled part of the prize fund whilst keeping quiet about it for several months. We now learn that most of the prize fund could have been paid from the ECF's grant, that it wasn't has to be attributed to organisational expenses or worse, used to subsidise the other events being run in parallel.


an ordinary chessplayer said...

Maybe those parts of the minutes were too toxic for the website.