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 Public Audit Committee of the Scottish Parliament

The Public Audit Committee of the Scottish Parliament is one of the committees established under the Standing Orders of the Parliament. The Public Audit Committee uses the reports of the Auditor General, which are laid before the Parliament, as the basis for conducting enquiries. It is chaired by a senior member of the Opposition and conducts its business on non-party political lines.


The key stages:

  • The Auditor General's report is discussed with the body concerned and the facts are agreed;
  • The report is laid before Parliament and published together with a Press Release;
  • If an enquiry is to be conducted by the Public Audit Committee, witnesses are called to give evidence - usually the Accountable Officer of the public body and the Accountable Officer of the sponsor Directorate. It is possible that the Chair or a Board member of a public body will be required to appear as a witness, where appropriate;
  • After the evidence session, the Committee drafts and approves a report which is published;
  • A formal response to the Committee's report is provided by the Scottish Government (or by the body in consultation with the Scottish Government) within two months of the Committee's report being published.


Typically the range of issues on which Board members should seek assurance will include:

  • compliance with the SPFM, Framework Document and legislation (e.g. founding legislation, Equality Act 2010);
  • financial monitoring and reporting arrangements and arrangements for delivering and reporting on efficiency savings;
  • arrangements for securing Best Value for the organisation and Value for Money for the public sector as a whole;
  • systems for identifying, assessing and managing risks;
  • processes for preventing and detecting fraud, and, linked to this, whistleblowing procedures;
  • arrangements for business continuity and disaster recovery;
  • information management systems, including in relation to protection of personal data and compliance with Freedom of Information legislation;
  • propriety and regularity of public finances;
  • management systems that have clear lines of delegation and accountability;
  • arrangements for meeting procurement requirements;
  • arrangements for meeting the body's moral and legal obligations to its employees; and
  • complaints handling procedures.

Boards will require to supplement these areas of assurance having regard to the purpose of the organisation and the nature of the business conducted.


Email: Gordon Quinn

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