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How we started

In August 2010 one of us, an independent consultant, Henry Leerentveld (Dutch), started a discussion on LinkedIn protesting about the use of Statements of Exclusivity and Availability (SoE&A) by the European Commission and saying he wanted to do something to change the system. Another one of us, Stephen Dewar, independent consultant (Irish), also felt strongly about this very unfair practice, so he wrote to him offering his support!

Soon four other consultants joined the initiative, including Michael Gericke and David Hepburn.

We launched an Internet-based campaign called “Ban the SoE&A” and asked consultants around the world to show their support by signing an on- line petition. Nearly 700 independent experts from 65 countries from every continent have signed it and we have been and are involved in negotiations with EuropeAid in Brussels aimed at reforming the entire tendering procedures for technical assistance projects. All these activities are fully described in the newsletters.

In the second half of 2010 many experts have said that they feel unprotected from unscrupulous contractors (consultancy firms) and incompetent contracting authorities (CAs), and listed many different areas of concern. They felt that it is essential to set up an association to protect our rights and lobby for better treatment from contractors and CAs when working on technical assistance and development cooperation consultancy assignments.

Thus, we decided to see if we could establish such an association. As we could not obtain any grants or sponsorship, the association needs to be financially self-sustainable on the basis of membership subscriptions.

We have been formally established in the Netherlands as ‘Stichting TA Consultants United’, as a foundation with members and an Advisory Board. Here you can read more about us.

Our primary goal is to protect and promote the interests of independent experts in their dealings with all donors, contracting authorities and contractors.

If you look at this website or Linkedin, you will see that a major concern is to reform the procedures used by the European Commission. This is because as well as it being one of the biggest donors in the world, so most of us have worked on their projects at some stage, it is the donor about whom there are the largest numbers of complaints. Thus TACU pays lots of attention to the Commission, but is also representing our interests with the other main donors in this field.

From Albania to Zambia, from America to Vietnam, from Belgium to Ukraine, we have heard dreadful stories of independent experts being abused, lied to, cheated, and much more. Well, it’s time to put an end to this and we are determined – with your support – to do so. We will lobby the donors for fair standards and efficient implementation of tendering procedures. We will pressure the unscrupulous contractors to clean up their acts. We represent members who is in dispute with his or her contractor. And we do this in a democratic, responsive way ensuring that we focus on those (viable) priorities that our members decide upon.

We are not an old-fashioned closed-shop trade union. We are a modern, flexible, professional association that has a global membership and a global approach. And we are shaking up our industry so that we, the independent experts who do the hard work on the ground, get proper treatment, recognition and protection, and ensure that our voices are heard where they should be.