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On Board: A Guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland


Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform

photo of Tom McCabe MSPPublic bodies play a crucial and valued role in the provision of advice and the delivery of public services. Most aspects of our lives are affected in some way by the work carried out by them. They allow important government functions to be carried out without direct day-to-day control by Ministers and also allow the public sector to utilise knowledge, skills and expertise which may not otherwise be available. Scottish Ministers are very appreciative of your work and commitment as a non-executive Board member serving Scotland on the Board of one of our public bodies.

Your role and responsibilities are, however, more demanding than ever. No part of the public sector is immune from the reform agenda. The people of Scotland rightly expect us to organise the public sector so that:

  • they know who does what - it is vital that there are clear lines of accountability and that public bodies are responsive to changing situations and demands;
  • service provision is efficient - in an increasingly tight financial climate, internal efficiencies will need to fund expansions and improvements. All public bodies are expected to be Best Value organisations and to contribute to the Efficient Government agenda; and
  • the governance of Scotland is simplified - we need to reduce unnecessary overlaps and to streamline bureaucracy across the public sector. As a member of the Board of a Scottish public body, you have an important part to play in assisting Ministers and managers in your organisation to deliver against these priorities. Change is needed, and your support and your contribution to the leadership of it will be vital.

We want to provide Board members appointed to public bodies with the necessary information and training to ensure that you are able to carry out your duties to the highest standards. Precise training and information requirements will of course vary from Board to Board, depending on both the type of body and the nature of its functions. This revised edition of the 'On Board' Guide provides a comprehensive standard induction pack covering generic issues such as roles and responsibilities of public bodies, and accountability and governance arrangements to supplement the tailored induction and training you will receive.

I very much hope you will find the Guide of interest and value as a source of reference and advice and that it will help make your appointment effective, enjoyable and personally fulfilling. On behalf of the Scottish Executive, I would like to thank you for your time, commitment and effort in serving the people of Scotland.

image of Tom McCabe MSP signature

Tom McCabe MSP
Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform