Executive Board minutes: March 2017

Minutes from the 14 March 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, Acting DG Finance
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Linda McKay, 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
  • Sam Anson, Deputy Director for Economic Policy (Item 4)
  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division


  • Alyson Stafford, DG Finance

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the Executive Board (EB) meeting and noted apologies from DG Finance. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 7 February 2017

The EB noted the minutes from the previous meeting of 7 February 2017 and the Action Tracker.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk


Acting DG Finance updated EB on the forecast outturn position and described steps being taken to balance the 2016-17 budget. Acting DG Finance confirmed decisions were yet to be made about the treatment of Barnett consequentials from the UK budget and that bids were not being invited at this stage. The EB noted the position.

The EB discussed and noted the importance of understanding the nature of budget underspends and the potential implications for future years which should be recorded and managed through accurate forecasting and budget monitoring returns.


Acting DG Finance presented the Risk Management papers informing EB that two risks had been removed from the Corporate Risk Register and invited EB to consider whether risks 13.08-11 Resilience and 14.08-15 Gender Diversity should be reverted to the relevant Portfolio Risk Registers in light of the low scores. The EB agreed that the scoring presented an opportunity to use risk 14.08-15 as a test case for discussion.

Ms Hamblin, NXD, updated EB on discussion about the management of risk and Gateway Reviews processes which had taken place at the NXD Network meeting on 14th March. The NXD Network had welcomed the Risk Management workshops which presented an opportunity for Risk Management to be used as a tool to influence decision making and running the business as part of the newly implemented DG Assurance process. The NXD Network had suggested areas where EB might want to give further consideration to enhancing the risk management process. The EB acknowledged the feedback, including, consideration to be given to how the narrative is expressed in the ‘risk activity’ column; collective risks to be considered; identity Corporate Board ownership of risks; and ensuring that the Corporate Risk Register was a more fluid and dynamic process.

Acting DG Finance informed EB of the Strategic Risk and Opportunities Group, a vehicle which existed to take risks into a workshop and perform risk interrogation adopting a cross government approach supported by NXDs. He agreed to circulate the background detail to EB.

Finally, Acting DG Finance provided an update on the Finance and Risk slide designed to create capacity and capability to manage financial risk in the organisation. EB agreed to adopt as a standing agenda item.

Item 4: Organisational Efficiency

DG Economy, supported by the Deputy Director for Economic Policy, provided an update on the Strategic Review of Economic Capability and Policy Making. The Review is being led by David Ritchie and supported by Mr McKay, NXD.

The EB agreed the correct focus of the review was the core Scottish Government), however, there was also benefit in considering where there might be other, wider public sector contributors such as the Aberdeen Research Unit. Understanding – and maximising - the economic impact of policy being developed across the Scottish Government was increasingly crucial. Developing a clear understanding of how to develop and exploit Scotland’s competitive advantage was critical. Improved intelligence on the distribution and return from public expenditure would also help inform decision making.

Item 5: AOB

There were no items for discussion.

ET Secretariat 14 March 2017


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000

Post: The Scottish Government St Andrew's House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG

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