Executive Board minutes: May 2017

Minutes from the 2 May 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
  • Barbara Allison, Director Communications and Ministerial Support
  • Eleanor Emberson, Director for Financial Strategy
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director

Also in Attendance:

  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division
  • Helen Buckley, ET Support Division
  • Diane Morrison, ET Support Division


  • Alyson Stafford, DG Finance
  • Gordon Wales, Acting DG Finance
  • Nicky Richards, Director for People
  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the Executive Board (EB) meeting, in particular, the Director for Financial Strategy substituting for acting DG Finance and Ms Morrison, ET Support Division. The Chair noted apologies from acting DG Finance, Director for People and Ms Hamblin, NXD whose interests were represented by Ms McKay, NXD. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 4 April 2017

The EB noted the minutes of the previous meeting of 4 April 2017. The action tracker was agreed subject to action 30 being amended to read ‘Place Board’.

Action: ET Secretariat

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk

The Director for Financial Strategy updated EB on the 2016-17 forecast outturn position noting that all year-end financial targets had been met. The EB acknowledged the scale of the task and challenges in delivering the budget and were pleased with the 2016-17 outcome.

The EB recognised the qualities required in delivering sound financial management including good judgement and a robust approach to risk management. It would be helpful to reflect on spending patterns across the year and to learn more about the extent to which decision making/planning and risk approach effected changes to spending profiles. The EB noted the measures being put in place to further strengthen financial capability across the organisation with particular focus on forecasting and the In Year Budget Management process. Finally, the EB noted the important relationship between financial management process, the balance scorecard and the role that Finance Business Managers play within the DG Assurance process. Action: ET Secretariat/Acting DG Finance

Mr Hinds, NXD, sought clarification on the Resource DEL under-spend and the Director of Financial Strategy agreed to investigate and confirm following EB. Ms McKay, NXD, representing Ms Hamblin, NXD, informed EB that Ms Hamblin would be meeting with acting DG Finance to discuss CAP and the Land Building Transaction Tax.

Action: Director for Financial Strategy

Item 4: Organisational Efficiency

Place Board

DG Learning and Justice and DG Economy updated the Board about the focus of the Place Board to date and in particular the balance that was being struck between the Board’s strategic function and driving operational delivery. Early work of the Place Board had focused on Smarter Workplaces developing, agreeing and overseeing a single integrated workplace improvement programme.

Work has been commissioned to develop a multi-year strategic plan which sets out details about work streams for current improvement programmes. This work is intended to build on current operational arrangements by moving the Place Board members forward as a group to a more strategic space based on critical thinking about what is currently being delivered and identifying gaps, based on the Place Board vision. A draft will be circulated to Place Board members by Friday 5, May. The Place Board is also considering initiatives that will make an early impact, what success would look like end year and the links with the SG2020 programme.

Ms McKay, NXD, acknowledged the progress and the importance of the work to develop a multi-year strategic plan. She welcomed the contribution which staff members brought to the Place Board. Mr Hinds, NXD also noted the importance of communicating upon how progress to the wider organisation in line with SG2020 and in light of the People Survey results.

The EB welcomed the approach being taken, credibility of the model in place and the precedence the Place Board was setting. In responding to Mr Hinds, NXD, DG Learning and Justice confirmed the Place Board intended to engage with the wider organisation via a Satire Article which would include the Place Board vision.

Item 5: Development of People and Capability

People Board

DG Communities provided EB with an update on the People Board, SG2020 and Executive Team (ET) activity.

People Board Update

The People Board has approved the People Plan which will directly support the capability needs of the organisation focusing on workforce planning and further investing in leadership and management capability. The People Plan is scheduled for discussion and agreement at EB on the 4 July prior to publication.

The Deputy Director for People Services is leading work to further develop the workforce planning process and the Director of Learning has been engaging with Directors on developing an inclusive and positive culture. The EB discussed the investment being made in building leadership and management capability and the support being offered to managers across the organisation. DG Communities confirmed a programme of activity to enhance core management and leadership skills had begun with a second round of Deputy Director sessions planned for June which will include communicating with and supporting managers at a local level. This activity would also be supported by a Managers Toolkit currently being developed.

The EB recognised the approaches adopted by each of the Corporate Boards and agreed it would be beneficial for the Chairs to meet and share approaches, models and the rhythm of reporting to EB.

Action: ET Corporate Secretariat


DG Communities confirmed that the SG2020 model was now aligned to the organisation’s governance structure. Discussions, including communicating the SG2020 story; supporting and engaging with teams where change is required; and, identifying further Change Programmes were on-going to ensure the required organisational change would be delivered. A further update would be provided at EB on 6th June. Action: ET Corporate Secretariat

The EB discussed the relationship between SG2020 the Corporate Boards and EB including the balanced scorecard data collection, rhythm of reporting and setting boundaries to ensure a cohesive systematic approach was adopted. The EB agreed it would be helpful to include these elements as part of the internal review of the new Governance Structure providing an opportunity to take stock , highlight what the data is telling us and identifying what further organisational development required.

Action: ET Corporate Secretariat

Executive Team Activity

DG Communities informed EB of the work ET were taking forward to ensure that we are matching resources to priorities. Director Generals have been considering whether the existing alignment of functions and accountabilities within their portfolios reflects the demands of the period ahead. DG Communities, supported by the Director of People and the Head of ET Support Division is leading this work with the first strand due to conclude W/C 8 May 2017. A further discussion by ET is planned for 20 June.

Item 6: AOB

There were no items for discussion.

ET Secretariat 5 May 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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