On Board: A Guide for Members of Management Advisory Boards

This guidance is for all those appointed by the Chief Executive to be a member of management advisory boards.

Public Service Delivery and Reform Guidance Note 1


Scottish Ministers and all those within the wider Scottish Administration* are committed to high-quality, continually improving, efficient public services that are responsive to local people's needs. To deliver on this commitment it is important that public bodies, third sector and private organisations work effectively in partnership with communities and each other.

This section explains the key policy developments and strategies on the delivery and reform of public services in Scotland, the relevance of public service delivery and reform to you as a board member of a public body, and the influential role you can play in making a real change to the lives of the people of Scotland.

Key References and Contacts

National Performance Framework

Scottish Government Economic Strategy

Christie Report

Scottish Government's Response to the Christie Report

Scotland's Digital Future – Delivery of Public Services

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Key Messages

  • As an advisory board member you help to ensure the effective governance and financial management of your public body within the context of public service delivery and reform for the benefit of the people of Scotland.
  • Public bodies are required to demonstrate their commitment to public service delivery and reform by recognising their role in the delivery of the Programme for Government and the National Performance Framework.
  • Public service reform is built on four pillars: Prevention, Performance, People and Partnership (supported by Place) – which should be reflected in public bodies' corporate strategic priorities and plans.
  • The Scottish Government has developed a distinct approach to support the achievement of National Outcomes and public service reform. It is centred around empowerment and participation: enabling people to co-design, shape and deliver public services that they use; and building on the strengths of families and communities.

Public Service Delivery and Reform

In your role as a board member of a public body in Scotland, you will help ensure effective governance and financial stewardship of the body concerned. These duties are covered in sections three to five of this guidance, the body's Framework Document and your letter of appointment.

As a member of a public body in Scotland, you also have a general responsibility to discharge these duties within the context of public service delivery and reform to the benefit of the people of Scotland.

The main policy developments and strategies which have shaped the Scottish Government's approach to public service delivery and reform are:

The next section expands upon these policy developments and strategies, and their relevance to you as a board member of a public body in Scotland.

National Performance Framework

The National Performance Framework (NPF) has set out a vision for national wellbeing in Scotland since 2007. It is based on achieving outcomes that improve the quality of life of the people of Scotland. It highlights the broad National Outcomes – developed in consultation with the people of Scotland – that support its overall purpose. It also measures how well Scotland is progressing towards those outcomes.

The NPF is underpinned by statute. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 places a duty on Scottish Ministers to consult on, develop and publish National Outcomes for Scotland.

Key Components

  • Our Purpose sets out the direction and ambition for Scotland.
  • Our Values describe the underpinning principles we share as a nation.
  • 11 National Outcomes describe what we want to achieve and the kind of Scotland we want to see.
  • 81 National Indicators help track our progress.
  • The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) align our global responsibilities alongside the National Outcomes and National Indicator set.


The NPF is Scotland's wellbeing framework. Increased wellbeing is part of its purpose and it combines measurement of how well Scotland is doing in economic terms with a broader range of wellbeing measures. These indicators incorporate a range of data types – from social attitudes and perceptions to economic and environmental statistics – to paint a broad picture of Scotland's performance.

The NPF provides a framework for collaboration and planning policy and services across Scotland's civic society, including public and private sectors, voluntary organisations, businesses and communities. In the case of public services, the NPF builds on the wider Scottish approach to reform – aligning the whole public sector around a common set of outcomes, supporting partnership working, collaboration and emphasising prevention. The NPF helps us understand, publicly and transparently, the progress we are making as a nation towards realising our long-term vision. Its data helps us understand challenges to achieving our outcomes and to focus policies, services and resources on tackling those challenges.

Data is reported on the NPF website.

Responsibilities of Public Bodies

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 places a duty on public authorities to have regard to the National Outcomes in carrying out their functions.

A shared approach to the achievement of National Outcomes encourages public service providers to direct attention towards the key long-term challenges for Scotland. As the achievement of shared outcomes is dependent on increased collaboration, effective partnership working and closer alignment of service provision, public bodies are required to ensure that their corporate strategies and plans support the National Outcomes described in the National Performance Framework.

Public bodies must demonstrate their role in delivering the National Outcomes which are relevant to the type of services they provide, working closely with partners to the benefit of the people of Scotland. This may involve crossing traditional organisational boundaries between public bodies which have separate and distinct roles but which also have a shared interest in the delivery and reform of particular areas of public service (e.g. health, justice and education). This focus on shared outcomes and partnership working can achieve outcomes which might not otherwise be possible by one body acting alone. It also opens up opportunities for sharing limited resources to ensure more efficient, effective and sustainable public services.

Scotland Performs

The Scotland Performs website measures and reports on the wide range of indicators set out in the National Performance Framework. As such, it provides an open and transparent account of the progress of government in Scotland in the creation of a more successful country, with opportunities for all through increasing sustainable economic growth.

Public Service Reform

The Christie Commission

In 2010 the Scottish Ministers invited Dr Campbell Christie to lead a Commission to identify the best ways to address the challenges of delivering public services, based on evidence of what works.

The Christie Commission concluded that to achieve the outcomes that matter most to the people of Scotland, public, third sector and private organisations had to work more effectively in partnership with communities and with each other to design and deliver excellent public services that meet the needs of local people. The need for new ways of delivering public services has never been more important than it is today.

The Christie Report provided an assessment of the challenges facing public services and recommended an urgent, sustained and coherent programme of public service reform.

The Scottish Government's Four Pillars of Public Service Reform

In its response to the Christie Report, the Scottish Government identified four pillars of reform in order to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland, to reduce inequalities and to ensure the delivery of sustainable services now and in the future:

Prevention – reduce future demand by preventing problems arising or dealing with them early on. To promote a bias towards prevention, help people understand why this is the right thing to do, the choices it implies as well as the benefits it can bring.

Performance – to demonstrate a sharp focus on continuous improvement of the National Outcomes, applying reliable improvement methods to ensure that services are consistently well designed, based on the best evidence and are delivered by the right people to the right people at the right time.

People – we need to unlock the full creativity and potential of people at all levels of public service, empowering them to work together in innovative ways. We need to help create ways for people and communities to co-produce services around their skills and networks.

Partnership – we need to develop local partnership and collaboration, bringing public, third and private sector partners together with communities to deliver shared outcomes that really matter to people.

The Scottish Government's approach to public service delivery and reform also focuses on the importance of "place" (locality) in the design and delivery of public services. The focus on place provides the basis for partnership and stronger community participation in the design and delivery of local services, harnessing the full spectrum of talents and capacities of public bodies, citizens, third sector organisations and local businesses.

In the next sections some of the information provided may not directly impact on your role as a board member of a public body. However, it is essential that board members have an awareness of work being taken forward by the Scottish Government in relation to public service reform.

The Scottish Approach to Government

The National Performance Framework and the Government's response to Christie describe "what" we are trying to achieve, the "Scottish Approach" describes "how" it should be delivered; centering around three core elements of Participation and Co-production, Assets and Improvement, as summarised right.

The approach seeks to safeguard essential services, preserve front-line jobs and secure higher quality services through, for example:

  • greater integration of health and social care;
  • the move to single police, and fire and rescue services;
  • the reform of post-16 education.

Government Economic Strategy

Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation reaffirms the Scottish Government's commitment to creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. It sets out an overarching framework for achieving the two mutually supportive goals of increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality in Scotland. It forms the strategic plan for existing and all future Scottish Government policy and prioritises boosting investment and innovation, supporting inclusive growth and maintaining a focus on increasing internationalisation.

Climate Change

The leaders of Scotland's public bodies have a key role to play in the crucial decade ahead in the shared national endeavour to tackle the global crises of health, climate emergency and biodiversity loss.

Scotland is committed to achieving a 75% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045. The public sector is clearly crucial to the implementation of national and local climate ambition.

The Scottish Government and the public sector's Sustainable Scotland Network, published guidance to support public bodies in their leadership on the global climate emergency.

The Scottish Approach

Participation And Co-Production
Improvement Methodology

  • Participation and Co-Production enabling people to shape and co-design the services they use.
  • Assets-Based – valuing the strengths of people and communities to build social capital and capacity, rather than focusing solely on perceived deficits.
  • Improvement Methodology:

Creating Conditions for Change

  • setting out a compelling vision of the future to serve as a reference point as the change process moves forward;
  • backed by a story which helps people to recognise where they have been and where they are going;
  • identifying key actions towards realising the vision.

Making the Change

  • a clear framework for improvement;
  • a strategy to engage, empower and motivate the workforce and develop their skills;
  • an understanding of how the change will work locally, recognising communities and their assets are different;
  • building the guiding coalitions, governance and data necessary to drive and sustain the change.

Community Empowerment

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) provides a legal framework that will promote and encourage community empowerment and participation, by creating new rights for community bodies and placing new duties on public authorities. Part 2 of the 2015 Act includes duties which further strengthen community planning, replacing provisions in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003.

The 2015 Act gives Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) a statutory footing for the first time. It places specific duties on CPPs, and statutory partner bodies, in relation to improving local priority outcomes and tackling inequalities of outcome across communities within their area. The Act does a number of other things including: extending the community right to buy, making it simpler for communities to take over public sector land and buildings, and strengthening the statutory base for community planning. It also includes a new regulation-making power that will in future require that Scottish public authorities promote and facilitate the participation of members of the public in their decisions and activities, including in the allocation of their budget.

Health and Social Care Integration

The shape of Scottish society is changing. People are living longer, healthier lives, and as the needs of our society change, so too must the nature and form of our public services. Legislation in the form of the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 requires Health Boards and local authorities to integrate their health and social care services.

Local teams and professionals across health and social care will work together to deliver quality, sustainable care and services resulting in improved outcomes for the people and families who use these services.

A Changing Nation: How Scotland Will Thrive In A Digital World

The digital strategy 'A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world' sets out a joint commitment with Scottish local government to deliver a shared vision of a modern, digital and collaborative government, designed around people. This includes priority actions to re-think how we design and deliver public services and change the operating model of the organisations that provide them.

It was also developed in response to reviews by Audit Scotland reviews of digital progress in Scottish Government and Local Government which jointly identified a number of principles necessary for true digital government, such as focusing on outcomes from a user's perspective rather than from an organisational perspective, and seeking out opportunities to explore how new and emergent technologies can improve outcomes for Scotland. These principles have helped to shape the actions contained in the strategy.

Priority actions are focused around, but not exclusive to, common approaches to architecture, procurement, data and capability. This is supported by actions to ensure that connectivity is resilient, and supports communities in accessing government services in a time and place convenient to them. These actions also support wider Scottish Government strategic aims set out in documents such as the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, for example, via CivTech which brings together public, private and third sectors to promote public sector innovation and grow the Scottish tech sector.

Best Value, Efficient Government and Relocation

Best Value, Efficient Government and Relocation are all essential elements of the public service reform agenda. These issues are covered in Guidance Note 4.

Further Information

Community Planning

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Improvement Framework

Improvement Service

Public bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014

McClelland Review

Central Government ICT Assurance Framework

Scottish Government's response to the McClelland Review

Audit Scotland Managing ICT contracts in central government: An update


Email: PublicBodiesUnitMailbox@gov.scot

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