Executive Board minutes: January 2017

Minutes from the 10 January 2017 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
  • Ken Thomson, DG Strategy and Operations
  • Gordon Wales, Director for Financial Management
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director

Also in attendance:

  • Barbara Allison, Director for Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
  • Nicky Richards, Director for People
  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division
  • Helen Buckley, ET Support Division
  • Joanne Ward, ET Support Division


  • Alyson Stafford, DG Finance
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the first Executive Board (EB) meeting of 2017 wishing everyone a happy new year. The Chair noted apologies from DG Finance and Ms McKay, NXD and welcomed the Director for Financial Management deputising for DG Finance. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 6 December 2016

The EB noted the minutes from the previous meeting of 6th December 2016 and welcomed the Action Tracker. DG Economy provided a progress update on an action relating to increasing economic literacy across the organisation.

Key points were:

  • The Deputy Director for Hydrocarbons, supported by Mr Mckay, NXD, is leading work to assess economic capability across the organisation which will include consideration of whether our current structures facilitate approaches which draw out the economic benefits or implications of policy development across the government’s responsibilities – and not limited to those with a clear economic focus; This work is considering organisational capacity and capability across specialist and non-specialist roles.

  • A small team, led by Deputy Director of Economic Development, had been established to work with colleagues across the organisation to ensure a coordinated and collective approach to the implementation of the government’s economic strategy. It will focus particularly on policy interventions tailored to the needs of Scotland’s business base and labour market, building on Scotland’s world class assets and competitive advantage to stimulate productivity growth.

  • Economic capability needs to be considered in line with the People Strategy.

  • Mr Maxwell, Special Adviser is now supporting the Economy Portfolio.

DG Economy undertook to provide EB with a further update as work developed.

Action: DG Economy to update the Executive Board.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk


The Director for Financial Management advised EB that the organisation was on track to balance the 2016/17 budget. He outlined the proposed timetable for seeking parliamentary approval for the 2017/18 budget which would be concluded by 22 February 2017.

The Director for Financial Management updated EB about the new CAP loan scheme approved by Ministers for 2016. In response to a question from Ms Hamblin, NXD (and Ms McKay NXD who had submitted comments in advance of the meeting) about the proposed schedule for recovering loans, DG Economy said that the profile for recovery was related to timing of payments made during the last two months of the financial year. She further noted that the recovery profile fell within the risk tolerances identified earlier in the financial year.


The Director for Financial Management sought agreement to the top three Corporate risks set out in the slide which were: IT Support for CAP; Delivery Capacity; and Social Security.

Mr Hinds, NXD, said that although each risk was significant it would be helpful for the material to include an explanation for the inclusion of the risk. In response to a question from Mr Hinds the Director for Financial Management confirmed that the Delivery Capacity risk included Project and Programme Management skills.

Ms Hamblin, NXD, said that it would be important to ensure that risk processes worked effectively across the organisation and that risk was being escalated appropriately across the governance landscape. DG Strategy and Operations noted while there was a Europe-themed risk on the strategic risk register, it would be appropriate following publication of Scotland’s Place in Europe the risk to be reviewed and considered as a cross-government risk. In doing so it would be helpful to consider how and why specific risks are escalated to the corporate register. Discussion highlighted the importance of being clear about the Executive Board’s role in the scrutiny of corporate risks which was to identify systemic and thematic issues which impact on delivery of the organisations purpose and priorities and to be clear about the actions in place or required to address those issues.

The Chair emphasised the importance of the point made by the Director of Financial Management that the top three corporate risks were a combination of the scale of the risk against our ability to take mitigating action and that the risks highlighted in the paper were a snapshot from the Corporate Risk Register as a whole.

Action: ET Business Hub to commission review of the Europe-themed risk on the Corporate Risk Register.

DG Assurance Process

DG Strategy and Operations said that the slide set out a standard draft agenda which took account of feedback from the first round of DG assurance meetings and which also mapped against the four quadrants of the Balanced Scorecard being developed. Ms Hamblin, NXD would be attending the next set of DG Assurance meetings. In considering the performance and outcome quadrant of the proposed DG assurance meeting agendas it would be important to ensure that discussion focused on action being taken to mitigate strategic risks.

Action: ET Business Hub to schedule a discussion on risk focused around the ability to reduce the risk through appropriate action at the next set of DG Assurance meetings.

Item 4: Organisational Efficiency

Balance Scorecard

DG Strategy and Operations outlined the next key stages of work to develop a new Balanced Scorecard which were: Phase One, research, completion by end Januarys 2017; Phase Two, engagement with the Corporate Boards, by end February; and Phase Three, design, complete design by end April.

The Executive Board noted the update and agreed that while it was necessary to invest sufficient time to ensure the design reflected the needs of the organisation it would be important that the work was completed to schedule.

Item 5: Results and outcomes

Scottish Government Audit and Assurance Committee (SGAAC)

Ms Hamblin updated on the first SGAAC meeting held on 22 December. SGACC had considered its remit in respect of the Scottish Consolidated Fund and Non Domestic Rating Account with a decision to be taken at the next meeting in March; reports from the first round of DG assurance meetings; and contributions from Audit Scotland. Ms Hamblin noted that while scrutiny of individual risks was not within the scope of SGACC’s responsibilities it did have a role in relation to providing assurance that strategic risks were being appropriately managed.

Item 6: Development of People and Capability

SG2020: Vision, delivery and governance

DG Strategy and Operations thanked colleagues for contributions to identifying key priorities which were intended to take forward delivery of the SG2020 programme over the coming year. Discussion noted that further refinement was needed to support communication with the wider organisation and to ensure that there was clarity about where responsibility sat for delivery of individual strands of work. It would be helpful to ensure proper connections with the outcomes of the people survey and that actions were embedded into the business planning process.

Action: Corporate Secretariat to commission a further reiteration of the SG2020: 2017 Corporate Board Delivery Priorities and link to the governance system.

ET Secretariat 12 January 2017


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000

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