Executive Board minutes: December 2016

Minutes from the 6 December 2016 meeting of the Executive Board, which is chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary (Chair)
  • Sarah Davidson, DG Communities
  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care
  • Paul Johnston, DG Learning and Justice
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Finance
  • Ken Thomson, DG Strategy and Operations
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director

Also in attendance:

  • Barbara Allison, Director for Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
  • Helen Buckley, ET Support Division
  • Nicky Richards, Director for People
  • Emma Sinclair, ET Support Division


  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting noting apologies from Ms McKay, NXD. The Chair noted the revised agenda format which had been introduced to support the Executive Board (EB) in discharging their role. There were no declarations of interest.

The EB noted the publication of the minutes from the previous meeting of 1st November 2016. The Chair sought an update on the previous action to develop a Communications and Engagement plan to support economic awareness across the organisation. Director for Communications and Ministerial Support informed EB of progress to date including DG Finance and DG Economy hosting a session at the recent Director’s Quarterly event on 1st December 2016 with a further conversation scheduled for the SCS Leading Together event being held on 23rd January 2017. Finally, DG Strategy and Operations requested that a copy of the EB Action Tracker be circulated with the papers in future.

Action: ET Support Team

Item 2: Financial Stewardship

Finance programme Budgets

Working with the organisations systems of financial controls, DGs as Accountable Officers (AOs) are being asked to take the necessary steps to manage Fiscal DEL cost reductions in a changeable budget environment. DG Finance provided an update on the current scale of these challenges.

Mr Hinds, NXD, welcomed the update and sought clarification on the Resource DEL, Capital DEL and Tax Receipts which DG Finance provided. The EB agreed to have a further discussion on economic awareness at the EB meeting in February 2017.

Action: ET Support Hub

Finance and Risk, Corporate Risk Register and Landscape

The Finance and Risk, Corporate Risk Register and Landscape papers were taken as read. No points of interest or clarifications were raised. EB noted the contents of the papers.

DG Assurance Process

The EB reflected upon the first round of the quarterly DG Assurance meetings which had taken place in November. The EB welcomed engagement from and considered the interaction between the DG Assurance meetings and their own portfolio Programme Boards. The EB acknowledged some further refinement was required to agenda planning and compilation and assimilation of the papers to ensure consistency across the piece. The EB recognised the excellent support which had been provided by the Programme Hub in establishing the process.

Action: ET Business Hub

DG Health and Social Care explained the different process undertaken within the Health and Social Care portfolio and prompted a discussion to identify and adopt best practice between the two approaches.

Action: ET Business Hub

The Chair noted that the forthcoming NXD meeting on 15 December would also be reflecting upon the new Corporate Governance process of the DG Assurance meetings and would welcome feedback from the meeting. The EB agreed to Ms Hamblin, Chair, Scottish Government Audit and Assurance Committee, NXD, attending the next round of the DG Assurance meetings in February 2017 including a DG Health and Social Care meeting to obtain a better understanding across the portfolios and gage the level of consistency.

Action: ET Business Hub

Item 3: Development of People and Capability

Matching Resources to Priorities and the Administration Budget

DG Strategy and Operations provided a synopsis of the process and work undertaken to date. The EB recognised the need to maintain the pace of the work given the nature of the challenges which lay ahead. The Chair recognised the need to ensure that the business is agile in respect of financial pressures by keeping budgets under review throughout the year to strengthen the organisation’s ability to deliver. DG Strategy and operations explained the next steps including the scheduled discussion on 20 December 2016 which will agree the process and timeline for 2017-18.

People Survey 2016 Results

DG Communities provided an overview of the People Survey 2016 Results noting further detailed material would be made available to Directors later this month.

The EB discussed the role of the DG Assurance process in embedding and addressing their respective results at a corporate and local level. The EB noted the opportunity to speak about the People Survey 2016 Results at the forthcoming SCS Leading Together event on 23 January 2017.

Mr Hinds, NXD, agreed with the update and asked if the Civil Service Government Stress Survey Union 2016 results were now available and what additional context could be identified to complement the results of the People Survey 2016 results. Director for People agreed to investigate and share the results.

DG Communities acknowledged the need to frame a collective response to the data and set out the role and responsibilities of the People Board at a Corporate level including engagement with the People Panel; offer of support from the Diversity and Equality Team; undertaking work to correlate results; and, noted the effectiveness of the approach ‘you said’ ‘we did’ at a local level.

In summing up their discussion EB concluded:

  • that it would be helpful to include the ‘Celebrate, Investigate and Improve’ slide in the Directors People Survey results packs due to issue later this month;

Action: People Directorate

  • incorporating the ‘Celebrate, Investigate and Improve’ slide into the DG Assurance process providing the opportunity for Directors and Deputy Directors to directly take forward their outcomes from the People Survey 2016 providing a consistent approach across the organisation;

Action: ET Business Hub

  • Civil Service Government Stress Survey Union 2016 results to be shared with EB Members

Action: People Directorate

SG2020: Vision, delivery and governance

The Permanent Secretary had asked DG Communities to take an overview of the form and content of SG2020 work by the corporate boards and elsewhere, with DG Strategy & Operations leading on assurance for delivery of the SG2020 vision. They provided an update on progress and the achievements to date and mapped out the proposed approach for 2017 to reignite the focus and keep pace.

Each Chair of the Corporate Boards was asked to identify a few specific priorities for change in the first part of 2017 whilst continuing to develop our understanding and capability for the whole of the 2020 journey. In doing so, consideration should also be given to what would make the most impact in terms of engagement from staff. The detail should clearly state the difference they will make; the methods we will use to deliver them, and how they will be resourced as exampled.

The EB discussed the challenges, the communication and engagement process with staff and the need to openly share and learn from experience. Ms Hamblin, NXD, noted the need to implement early wins; setting milestones; and consideration to risk management. Mr Hinds, NXD, echoed the points raised by Ms Hamblin, NXD, thanking DG Strategy and Operations for a lucid presentation.

In summarising EB agreed each Corporate Board would complete the one page template for discussion at the next EB on the 10th Janaury 2017.

Action: ET Corporate Boards

Item 4: AOB

No AOB items were raised.


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