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.

The Role of the Scottish Government Sponsor Directorate

The day-to-day link between the public body and the Minister is provided by the sponsor Directorate. Within the sponsor Directorate, a sponsor team will ensure that the public body is adequately briefed about the Scottish Government's policies and priorities. That team will monitor the body's activities on behalf of the Minister. However, civil servants from the sponsor Directorate will not normally attend Board meetings of the public body. On any occasion that they do, they should do so as observers, not participants, and are not party to decisions taken by the Board.

The sponsor team prepares a Framework Document which sets out formally the relationship between the public body and the Minister and officials. While Framework Documents vary according to the functions, powers and finances of the public body, the Model Framework in the Scottish Public Finance Manual provides a useful template.

The Framework Document will be drawn up by the Scottish Government, in consultation with the public body, and it will be reviewed at least every two to three years.

The key focus for much of the sponsorship role is to support sponsored bodies in being accountable, high performing organisations, delivering Value for Money services, which meet people's needs, as outlined in their business plan. An excellent sponsorship function is underpinned by two key elements:

  • good governance structures and processes; and
  • good relationships with the public body, based on openness, trust, respect and mutual support.



  • The legislative basis under which the public body was established and its statutory functions, duties and powers;
  • Aims and objectives, how these are to be delivered and the key targets to be achieved;
  • The roles and responsibilities of Ministers, the sponsor Directorate, the Chair, Board members, the Chief Executive and other senior officials; and the public body's accountability to Ministers and to the Scottish Parliament;
  • Arrangements for the planning, budgeting and control of the public body's activities and expenditure, including funding, preparation of corporate and business plans and setting of performance targets;
  • Arrangements for preparation and publication of the annual report and accounts and external audit procedures;
  • Responsibilities of the public body for recruitment, pay, grading and other personnel matters.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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