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 Scottish Public Finance Manual

The primary document that governs all matters relating to public finance and reporting in Scottish public bodies is the Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM).

The SPFM provides guidance to your public body and its sponsor Directorate on the proper handling of public funds. It is mainly designed to ensure compliance with statutory and parliamentary requirements (in particular, the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000), to promote Value for Money and high standards of propriety, and to secure effective accountability and good systems of internal control.

Essentially the Board must ensure that the public body has processes and systems in place to ensure compliance with the SPFM. Board members should look to the Chief Executive (Accountable Officer) and staff of the public body for advice and assurance that the SPFM is being complied with.

The Accountable Officer has a personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the finances under their stewardship and for the economic, efficient and effective use of all related resources. Accountable Officers are personally answerable to the Parliament for the exercise of their functions and have a statutory duty to obtain written authority from, as the case may be, the Scottish Ministers or relevant governing body before taking any action that they consider may be inconsistent with the proper performance of their functions. The system is designed to promote good governance.

It is important to recognise that the Accountable Officer's role in relation to Value for Money is not a narrow one, restricted to considerations affecting that body, but, as defined by the SPFM, Value for Money is to be judged for the public sector as a whole. This wider consideration of Value for Money would be relevant to considerations of property and accommodation, for example, in relation to shared services.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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