On Board - A guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland (April 2015)

This Guide provides much of the basic information that a Board Member will need to understand their role as a member of the Board of a public body in Scotland.

Key Messages

  • Board members must adhere to collective corporate responsibility, confidentiality and the highest standards of conduct.
  • Individual Board members should contribute fully to Board deliberations and exercise a healthy challenge function. The Chair will ensure that all Board members have an opportunity to contribute to Board discussions.
  • The four main functions of the Board of a public body are: to ensure that the body delivers its functions in accordance with Ministers' policies and priorities; to provide strategic leadership; to ensure financial stewardship; and to hold the Chief Executive and senior management team to account.
  • Committees are established to deal with particular areas of interest outside main Board meetings and are required to submit substantive reports to summarise issues, debates and decisions.
  • The Chair has additional responsibilities to Board members, particularly leadership, directing a diverse team and harnessing the benefits of this, and the conduct of Board business.
  • The Chief Executive is accountable to the Board for the overall organisation, management and staffing of the public body. Where a public body manages its own budget, the Chief Executive is normally designated as its Accountable Officer with responsibilty for the proper management of public funds under the public body's control. The Board should have regard to the issues and concerns of the Accountable Officer.
  • The Board focuses on strategy, performance and behaviour - the Chief Executive advises the Board on all matters and is solely responsible for operational issues. Board members have no authority to instruct the Chief Executive or any member of staff on operational matters.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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