It is with some disappointment that we find ourselves in the limelight for the wrong reasons but feel obliged to respond to the comments about our CIFA RO status rather than discuss the record of our achievements in archaeology, of which we are proud.
The CIFA have seen fit to remove us from the register on a technical, non-archaeological matter in which a recommendation has been converted to a (3rd) condition which triggers removal. Although we have no intention of washing all of our dirty linen in public we were surprised (and then dismayed) that one condition was to ensure we have a correct (Harvard style) bibliographic reference to CIFA standards in our documents rather than the previous format of our reference to CIFA standards in our documents. The legality of the conversion of recommendation to condition is under review.
Nevertheless, for those who wish to equate CIFA RO status and archaeological competence, we would like the reader to consider the following.
We are immensely proud of our contribution to archaeology over the last 30 years, in particular our commitment to dissemination of our research with our publication record comprising 30 monographs, 27 occasional papers (small monographs) and 127 journal articles, all as documented on our web page.
In addition, we would like to think we have been innovative such as in that we place ALL of our grey literature reports since 1988 online (currently totalling over 3300 reports). We have set up a scientific database for the convenience of researchers. We also do outreach- open days, school visits, public talks and news items.
These excavation and other fieldwork projects have been carried out widely across southern Britain and we would like to think that the county archaeological officers responsible for overseeing this work are at least satisfied, if not appreciative.
We would also consider the quality of our routine work (in preparing WSIs, fieldwork, reporting and archive deposition) as being of a high standard which is enough to earn our documentation and processes quick and positive approval from county archaeologists and recipient museums.
TVAS employ c.50 staff, 25% of which are members of the CIFA. Almost all of these staff are on permanent contracts (we have 4 new temps at this moment). The staff are paid above CIFA/BAJR minimum salary levels with pensions, training, etc, and no trainee grade. During the recession of 2010 we only laid one person off. We offer work experience and (paid) student placements. We retain an independent Health and Safety advisor, train our staff in Health and Safety issues, have had no HSE prosecutions or enforcements and have had only one serious accident in our 30 years of business.
If having considered the above and perhaps compared this to other organisations or employers, and still feel that TVAS are lacking, then so be it- you are entitled to your views. But at the very least we hope that this stimulates a debate as to what exactly professional standards and guidance are intended to achieve and how these are policed.