Royal Institute of Public Administration

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Royal Institute of Public Administration
Formerly called
Institute of Public Administration

The Royal Institute of Public Administration (RIPA) was a British professional public service institution and civil service training organisation that operated in the United Kingdom and overseas from its founding in 1922 to its closure in 1992.[1] Today, its international training and consulting activities continue with Public Administration International Ltd.[2] and 'RIPA International Ltd.[3]

Founding and early years[edit]

Founded as the Institute of Public Administration, its mandate was to improve public administration through training, research and the enhancement of professional practice. It was established in 1922 through the Society of Civil Servants with Viscount Haldane[4] as the first President.

British statesman Sir William Beveridge envisioned it as a place where: "Civil Servants may meet regularly to make a national pool of their ideas, to work out techniques of administration, by discussion and papers and so on; to educate themselves and incidentally the public as to what the Civil Service is and does."[4] Membership was open to individual public servants and regional groups were developed at home and overseas.

In 1923, the Institute founded the academic journal Public Administration – the first of its kind. Devised to be "a medium both for instruction and enlightenment",[4] it remains a top-ranked publication in its field.[5]

Toward the end of the 1920s, the Institute engaged in discussions with academia to deepen its connection with higher learning, and in 1929 the Diploma of Public Administration was established as a joint venture with the University of London.[4]

Acquiring Royal Charter[edit]

The Institute developed considerably under the directorship of Raymond Nottage from 1949. Trust status was achieved in 1950, and corporate membership was introduced, attracting many local authorities and other organisations, thus increasing the resources available through subscriptions. The Royal Charter was awarded in 1954.

Organisation Development[edit]

In 1953, the Institute began providing short-term management courses for public sector managers and officials. This was done in order to directly integrate the latest best practice and management tools into public administration by filling the gap between on-the-job training and Diplomas of Public Administration.[6]

An Operational Research Unit for Local Government was established in 1966, based at Reading, followed by a similar service for the National Health Service. Following a 1972 review, UK Training Services and Membership Services were separated from overseas training and development. The Overseas Services Unit (OSU)later known as the International Division, was formed and expanded to undertake major international training and civil service development projects, many under Overseas Development Administration funding (later renamed Department for International Development or DFID).

At its peak the Institute employed over 100 staff.

International activities[edit]

International interest in its work had increased continuously since 1961, when RIPA had started its capacity building work with officials from developing countries.[6] By the 1980s, the Institute’s international training activities were widely known and appreciated.[7] Major training and consulting contracts were implemented across Africa and Asia.

The reasons for OSU's success were many and included its range of intellectual connections with public administration issues across the globe. For instance in 1963, Deputy Director John Sargent became a member of the Governing Board of the Institute of Administration in Ife, Nigeria. In 1972 Public Administration, RIPA’s journal, had more than 10,000 subscribers in over 95 different countries.[6] OSU's consulting staff provided specialist expertise in public sector organisation and methods, human resource development and related fields.

In the 1970s the Overseas Development Administration established the academic Journal of Administration Overseas subsequently renamed Public Administration and Development which was taken over by RIPA. The journal, which is now published by Wiley, reports, reviews and assesses the practice of public administration in less industrialised economies and remains highly ranked today.[5]


In 1992, against a difficult economic background including public expenditure cuts, RIPA experienced severe financial difficulties and negotiations were initiated to dispose of the International Division as a viable commercial enterprise. Two new companies were formed by the International Division's staff. The Institute itself was subsequently wound up and two new companies were formed by its staff. Public Administration International Ltd (PAI) which was incorporated on 14 February 1992,[8] continues to operate as an independent company providing international consulting services and study programmes.[2] The International Division was acquired by Capita Group plc and later transferred to the Strategy Group and rebranded British Expertise International.[9] The Institute itself was wound up.


  1. ^ Shelley, Ivor (1993) "What Happened to The RIPA?" Public Administration, vol. 71, no. 4.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Ripa International Public Administration Courses London". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  4. ^ a b c d Nottage, Raymond & Freida Stack (1972) "The Royal Institute of Public Administration, 1922-1939" Public Administration, vol. 50, no. 3.
  5. ^ a b Harzing Journal Quality List by title (50th edition, 5 July 2013)
  6. ^ a b c Nottage, Raymond (1972) "The Royal Institute of Public Administration, 1939-1972" Public Administration, vol. 50, no. 4.
  7. ^ Shelley, Ivor & Donald McGregor (1994) "Correspondence" Public Administration, vol. 72, no. 2.
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]