Executive Board minutes: December 2017

Minutes from the 5 December 2017 meeting of the Executive Board, which is chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary (Chair)
  • Sarah Davidson, DG Organisational Development and Operations
  • Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care
  • Paul Johnston, DG Education, Communities and Justice
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ken Thomson, DG Constitution and External Affairs
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director

In Attendance

  • Barbara Allison, Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
  • Dominic Munro, Director of Fair Work, Employability and Skills
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer
  • Jonathon Curry, Deputy Director, Change and Operations (Item 4)
  • David Rogers, Director of Strategy and Constitution (Item 5)
  • Gabby Pieraccini, Constitution and Europe Programme Office (Item 5)
  • Gavin Henderson, Deputy Director, Performance and Priorities (Item 5)
  • Julie Humphreys, Deputy Director, Governance Review
  • Sean Doohan, ET Support Division


  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies. DG Economy’s interests at the meeting would be covered by the Dominic Munro, Director of Fair Work, Employability and Skills. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 07 November 2017

The minutes of the previous meeting were cleared without comment.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk


The Chief Financial Officer updated Executive Board on the latest forecast outturn and the work that had taken place to deliver a balanced budget for 2017/18. Assurance was provided to the Board that, in each of the HM Treasury budget classifications, the Scottish Government’s budget will balance for 2017/18. The Board welcomed the report and noted their thanks to Gordon, Eleanor and the team for all their hard work to deliver a balanced budget.

The Chief Financial Officer went on to provide a summary of the efficiency savings that had been made across the Scottish Government on non-staff expenditure as part of the SG2020 Programme. Going forward it was agreed the Board will receive an update on efficiency savings every 6 months as part of the regular finance item. The Chief Financial Officer invited Board members to provide feedback on the format of the report in correspondence.

(Action: Executive Board Members/ ET Programme Hub)

DG Scottish Exchequer provided an update on the forthcoming Budget that will be published on the 14th December and the development of the Scottish Fiscal Exchequer Committee noting that proposals will return to Executive Team for agreement. The Board discussed the management of commercial loans and noted this function will be overseen by the Scottish Fiscal Exchequer Committee once established with the Executive Board receiving regular reports.


DG Scottish Exchequer provided a brief summary of the papers and highlighted the ongoing improvement work that had taken place across the Scottish Government. The Board discussed the organisation’s approach to risk management and agreed to a substantive discussion on risk in February where the considerations should include cross-government risk; the variation in approaches across DG areas and should include a supporting narrative with the papers to help focus the Board’s attention on the key risks which need to be considered.

(Action: DG Scottish Exchequer/ ET Programme Hub)

Item 4: Development of People and Capability

People Survey Update

The Director of People provided a summary of the 2017 People Survey results and the work the People Board are doing to take forward the results. The results highlighted a 5% increase in the response rate with improvements being made in 8 out of 9 themes. Ronnie Hinds Non-Executive Director, asked for clarification as to who would be responsible for taking forward the detailed findings of the survey and whether trend information was available that highlighted where action taken in-year was having a positive impact. The People Director provided an overview of how the action will be taken forward through DG Assurance meetings and the important role of individual Directors, and Deputy Directors, in taking forward local level results.

The People Board was responsible for gathering areas of good practice and these would be shared across the Scottish Government. Whilst trend information is available it can be difficult to track where specific action taken in-year has resulted in improved outcomes and equivalent survey scores. However, it was clear that, for example, the work which had been undertaken supporting Deputy Directors had led to improvements.

DG Health and Social Care highlighted the Diversity scores in the survey focusing on the areas where engagement scores are low. It was incumbent on the Executive Team to focus on those colleagues who are not engaged to understand why and identify steps that can be taken to improve our engagement index.

The Board welcomed the positive results and agreed that there were still areas for improvement which the People Board will be taking forward. A progress report will return to the Board in 2018.

(Action: DG Organisational Development and Operations/ ET Programme Hub)

SG2020 Update

DG Organisation Development and Operations introduced the item and welcomed Jonathon Curry, Deputy Director, Change and Operations to the Board who is taking forward the next phase of SG2020 programme.. Jonathon Curry noted that there is a high level of awareness around the programme. Engagement scores have, however, decreased since last year and for the programme to succeed it is important that people are engaged. Jonathon Curry went on to highlight the steps being taken to improve engagement by increasing clarity of the scope; structure and roles of the programme. In addition, to support continued delivery of the programme, changes will be made to the level of support; how we measure progress and how we communicate the programme.

Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director, asked for further information on how the work of the programme would link in with the Performance Board. DG Scottish Exchequer clarified that the focus of the Performance Board would focus on the National Performance Outcomes with the SG2020 programme focused on organisational development and taken forward by DG Organisational Development and Operations as part of her role.

In summing up the Chair highlighted the importance of drawing out the deal for staff as set out in the People Strategy with the expectation that all staff are local change agents and the importance of continually communicating the narrative to all staff. The Board agreed the scope and governance of the programme and that Jonathon should return to the Board with a further update in mid-2018.

(Action: DG Organisational Development and Operations/ Jonathon Curry/ ET Programme Hub)

Item 5: Results and Outcomes

Constitution and Europe Programme Board Update

Following on from the discussion at the November Board meeting, David Rogers, Director of Strategy and Constitution, provided an overview of the Constitution and Europe Programme Board’s work to support the Scottish Government in its readiness for EU Exit. The Constitution and Europe Programme Office had carried out a first iteration of a readiness exercise. The exercise had been welcomed by teams across the organisation, in particular with regard to the focus it brought to resources and priorities. The Programme Office would follow up with individual Directorates to explore emerging issues and provide further support ahead of further iterations of the exercise, which would inform further papers to the Executive Board throughout 2018.

The Board thanked David and the team and made some general comments on the need to support a consistent approach across the Scottish Government, and how best to refine the work in the context of delivery bodies and the broader business environment in Scotland. DG Constitution and External Affairs agreed to consider these issues further as part of the next report.

(Action: DG Constitution and External Affairs)

The Director of People provided an overview on the approach taken to prioritise resources. DG Constitution and External Affairs agreed to provide further information on the ongoing work around prioritisation to Board members.

(Action: DG Constitution and External Affairs)

Item 6: Organisational Efficiency

Performance and Priorities Board Update

DG Scottish Exchequer talked the Board through the work of the Performance Board noting that its last meeting considered the delivery of the Programme for Government 2017 commitments; the delivery of the National Performance Framework refresh and clarifying the role, purpose and workplan of the Board. DG Scottish Exchequer talked the Board through the proposals for the Performance Board terms of reference and workplan for 2018. The focus of the Performance Board would be threefold: to champion a new Performance System; to monitor the Delivery of the Programme for Government Commitments and to encourage, and facilitate, cross-cutting capacity within the Scottish Government.

Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director, raised the importance of being clear on accountability for performance within the Governance structure. It was agreed that this issue should be considered further with Executive Team to provide clarity around the role of Executive Board, Performance Board and individual DGs. The Board agreed the terms of reference and workplan for 2018.

(Action: DG Scottish Exchequer)

Item 7: AOB

Julie Humphreys, Deputy Director ET Support Division, reminded the Board that the Economy Board proposal would now be taken in correspondence and asked members to provide comments to the questions highlighted in the paper by Thursday 7th December. Following returns DG Economy will send a revised paper to the Permanent Secretary for clearance.

(Action: Executive Board Members/ DG Economy)

The Permanent Secretary noted that this would be the last meeting of the Executive Board with the refreshed Corporate Board holding its first meeting in January, where the focus will be ways of working.


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