Corporate Board minutes: April 2018

Minutes from the 17 April 2018 meeting of the Corporate Board (formerly the Executive Board) chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

This document is part of a collection

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary (Chair)
  • Barbara Allison, Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
  • Sarah Davidson, DG Organisational Development and Operations
  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care
  • Annie Gunner Logan, Non-Executive Director
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director
  • Paul Johnston, DG Education, Communities and Justice
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • Ken Thomson, DG Constitution and External Affairs
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer

In Attendance

  • Katie Berry, Corporate Analytical Services (For Item 5)
  • Luke Cavanagh, Head of Corporate Analytical Services (For Item 5)
  • Colin Cook, Director Digital (For item 4)
  • Alison Griffin, Strategy Unit (For Item 4)
  • Rob Malpass, Head of Digital Talent (for Item 4)
  • Trish Quinn, Head of Transformation and National Change Programme (For Item 4)
  • David Rogers, Director of Strategy and Constitution (For Item 6)


  • Sean Doohan, ET Support and Governance Office
  • Julie Humphreys, Board Secretary
  • Joanne Ward, ET Support and Governance Office
  • Rebecca Winterstein, ET Support and Governance Office


  • Hugh McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer

Items and actions

Item 1: Welcome, Introductions, Apologies, Declarations of Interest, Minutes and Actions

1. The Chair welcomed everyone to Corporate Board and noted apologies. There were no declarations of interest.

2. The minutes of the last meeting on 6 February 2018 were cleared without comment. The Board agreed that it would be helpful for the Board to receive an update on the progress of the creation of the Scottish Exchequer, and the plans for Board Development.

Item 2: Permanent Secretary’s Overview Report

3. The Chair provided an overview of areas of current corporate significance, highlighting some areas of exemplary cross-governmental working, including the Year of Young People and Scotland Is Now campaign.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship

4. Gordon Wales provided Board Members with an overview of 2017-18 financial position and said that he was confident that a balanced budget position could be delivered across all HM Treasury budget classification categories. He said that year end underspend targets had been met and that this funding would be carried forward to support the 2018-19 budget, along with £158 million of funding provided by the UK Government in 2017-18 that is for deployment on 2018-19 expenditure. Work had been commissioned to understand the variations in outturn projections over the course of the year to support better forward planning and he would provide an update to the Board on the output of that work.

5. In discussion the Board noted:

  • Consideration would need to be given to setting out the 2017-18 underspend, to clarify that it was designed in order to support 18/19 spending plans.
  • Good forecasting of outturn was essential to maximise the value that could be achieved from the budget, and allow informed decisions to be taken on future years’ budgets.
  • The taxes for which the Scottish Government (SG) was now responsible added an additional level of complexity to forecasting budgets.

6. The Board agreed that:

  • Gordon Wales would provide a report to Corporate Board on the differences between forecast and outturn for 2017-18.

Item 4: Digital Government – Expectations And Needs Of Citizens And Staff.

7. Sarah Davidson introduced the discussion and said that the SG’s approach to digital went to the heart of SG2020 in terms of being an open, capable and responsive organisation.

8. Colin Cook set out the vision for a digital organisation, describing the framework in place that would support delivery. Given the SG’s journey to digital maturity, there was a role for the Corporate Board to reaffirm its explicit commitment to that vision and to support its effective implementation. The Board’s views were sought on eight areas of potential intervention:

  • Expectations of transformation – providing clarity on the direction of travel.
  • Staffing – ensuring all were required to demonstrate digital competence and recognising digital staff as a professional group.
  • New powers – clarity on the approach to designing new services. Is it sufficient to develop a system which ensures competent delivery of a single new service or should the aim be to improve the wider public sector as well?
  • Commerciality – improving accountability for delivery.
  • Focus for action – providing clarity on the extent to which efforts should be focused on the Scottish Government, versus the wider public sector, to achieve the maximum impact.
  • Ethical leadership – supporting Open Government principles and ensuring themselves that new policies developed have taken account of the digital agenda.
  • Cyber – to consider what needs to be done in the Cyber space.
  • Investment – to consider whether historic approach to investment will be sufficient to achieve new vision.

9. In discussion the Board noted:

  • Development of digital services should be designed to benefit the public sector as widely as possible.
  • Board members needed the right level of knowledge and insight into digital issues to set the expectations for transformation, and they would look to colleagues in Digital Directorate to provide that support.
  • The SG’s vision must look beyond technology to the culture change which would place greater focus on the needs of the customer.
  • In setting up the digital profession, it would be important to learn from similar endeavours previously. Digital Directorate should ensure that their internal structures and processes are optimum to deliver the required transformation.
  • It would be helpful to understand the scale of investment required to deliver the vision.
  • New approaches to commerciality would be required for digital.
  • Consideration needed to be given to governance to stop this being seen as solely a digital directorate issue.

10. The Board agreed that:

  • Colin Cook, Trish Quinn and Rob Malpass should consider the points raised at the meeting and come back to the Board, before the next meeting, setting out what the suggested vision would mean for how the organisation operated and a delivery plan for the interventions identified and
  • Gordon Wales should provide an update to the Board on work to improve commercial skills and awareness in the SG.

Item 5: Improving the Balanced Scorecard

11. Sarah Davidson introduced the item and provided an overview of the work completed to improve the presentation of management and performance information.

12. In discussion the Board noted:

  • The remit of the Corporate Board includes responsibility for ensuring the Scottish Government is an open, capable and responsive organisation and Key Performance Information (KPIs) should be included in the scorecard to support this role.
  • It would be helpful to include metrics on customer or stakeholder views of the SG, and this would be useful information for the Board to see.
  • Trend information needed to be developed further to include a supporting narrative which provided the context for the data.
  • The role of the Programme for Government (PfG) Commitments and the National Performance Framework Outcomes (NPF) needed to be considered further with input from DG Scottish Exchequer.

13. The Board agreed that:

  • Luke Cavanagh and Julie Humphreys should reflect on the feedback, including:
    • linking to the KPIs being developed as part of SG2020;
    • developing and linking to datasets for constituent parts of the governance system
    • specifically DG Assurance meetings and the Sub-Boards;
    • determining the escalation process for data-driven and risk insights from these boards to Corporate Board and
    • consideration of stakeholder feedback.

An update should be provided to Corporate Board once conclusions have been reached.

  • Alyson Stafford, and the Performance Board, to consider the optimum presentation of PfG Commitments and the NPF to the Corporate Board.

Item 6: EU Readiness update

14. Ken Thomson gave a brief overview of the work being undertaken as part of the Constitution and Europe Programme, including supporting negotiations, planning and preparing for the practical and legislative consequences of EU exit. A more substantial discussion would take place at the next meeting.



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