Executive Board minutes: November 2016

Minutes from the 1 November 2016 meeting of the Executive Board, which is chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

Attendees and apologies


  • Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary (Chair)
  • 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
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director

Also in attendance:

  • Barbara Allison, Director for Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
  • Donald Cameron, ET support division
  • Rebecca Diggle, ET support division
  • Sean Doohan, ET support division
  • Nicky Richards, Director for People


  • Sarah Davidson, DG Communities

Items and actions

Item 1: Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Permanent Secretary welcomed everyone to the second meeting of the Executive Board noting that apologies had been received from DG Communities and that the Director of People would represent her interests in relation to her People Board responsibilities.

The Board was content with the minutes from the 4 October meeting but requested that the finalised Board remit should be circulated for information. The Board noted that the cleared minutes would be published on the Scottish Government internal and external websites and shared with Audit Scotland.

Item 2: Financial stewardship

Finance – Programme Budgets

DG Finance updated the Board which discussed organisational changes and staff support that might be required as the Scottish Government moves to becoming a tax raising authority. It was highlighted that there was an on-going requirement to consider sustainability in financial decision-making and that the organisation required agility to respond quickly and effectively to different economic conditions, to ensure a clear line of sight between income and expenditure decisions.

The importance of clear, accessible staff communications and engagement around economic messaging and the impact of variability in government income on policy development and delivery was agreed as an area that could usefully be further developed. To support this work DG Finance would be adapting her regular financial report and asked Board members to feed in their views on how this information could best be presented to assist future Board discussions.

Action 1

DG Finance, DG Strategy and Operations and Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities to develop a Communications and Engagement plan to support greater economic awareness across the organisation.

Action 2

Board members to provide comments to DG Finance on the format of the new financial report.

Item 3: Development of people and capability

Finance – Direct Running Cost (DRC) budgets (Matching Resources to Priorities - MRtP)

DG Strategy and Operations provided an update on the Administration Budget. The Board discussed and noted:

  • planned revisions to allocations within the 2016-17 budget would be finalised in November
  • that the administrative processes to monitor and project spend is being adapted to better support the MRtP process

The Board noted that it would be important to understand the impact of organisational and culture change on staff and to capture and apply learning from experience of where changes in activity and priorities had occurred as a result of the MRtP process. The Board agreed a session should be arranged with Directors to consider the issue further and that this should include practical examples of changes as a result of MRtP

Action 3

DG Strategy and Operations, ET Programme Hub to arrange a session with Directors.

People Survey

The Director of People updated the Board about the People Survey which had closed on 31 October and noted that the provisional final response rate was comparable to the 2015 survey

The Board was advised that the timetable for analysis and dissemination would be similar to last year and that organisational level results would be available by mid-November with local level reports following towards the end of the month. The People Board intended to discuss the survey at its meeting on 30 November and that the outcomes of its discussion would be reported back to the Executive Board on 6 December

It was noted that the Civil Service Government Union Stress Survey 2016 was also due to report shortly and that although the number of respondents was significantly smaller than that of the People Survey, the results would provide additional context in relation to staff welfare and could be used as part of a tool kit to understand the impact of MRtP and other organisational change on staff wellbeing.

Action 4

People Board to provide Executive Board with an analysis of the People Survey results a the 6 December meeting.

Corporate Board: People Board

The Director of People provided an overview of the meeting held on 13 October 2016 and set out the Board’s draft work plan (People 2020) which is divided into five themes. Executive Board members were asked to provide comments on the plan in correspondence

Action 5

Executive Board Members to provide written comments on the People Board work plan.

Item 4: Results and outcomes

Corporate Board: Performance and Priorities Board

DG Finance updated the Board about the first meeting of the Performance and Priorities Board on 31 October, which had focussed on three key areas: 1) delivery of the Programme for Government; 2) Raising Attainment; and 3) National Performance Framework

Feedback from members who had attended meeting was positive, and suggested that the Board would provide a high level of challenge and support, which should strengthen the delivery of programmes and projects under scrutiny. The importance of linking the Board’s work programme to other existing methods of assurance was noted and agreed by the Board’s Chair

Action 6

DG Finance to consider the appropriate architecture for supporting the Board

Corporate Board: Scottish Government Assurance and Audit Committee (SGAAC)

Janet Hamblin, Chair of Scottish Government Audit and Assurance Committee provided the Board with an overview of the annual work plan and proposed agenda for the inaugural meeting in December.

Ms Hamblin identified that it would be important that the revised assurance processes being taken forward at Directors General level were adequately captured in SGAAC discussions. Ms Hamblin agreed to consider this further with the secretariat and with her NXD colleagues.

Action Point 7 – SGACC Chair to consider handling of DG level assurance at SGAAC

Item 5: Organisational efficiency

Corporate Board: Place Board

DG Learning and Justice noted that the Place Board had not yet held its first meeting but that plans were in place to recruit a number of staff members to the Board and that the Chairs were developing a work plan

Performance Data - Balanced Scorecard

DG Strategy and Operations updated the Board about the development of the Balanced Scorecard stating that analytical resource had been identified to support the project. It was agreed that the three Corporate Boards would be responsible for developing and owning the specific objectives, which would populate each quadrant of the scorecard and be reported on at Executive Board.

The Board discussed the merits of adopting an iterative approach to its development noting that there should be an emphasis on outcomes and communication and engagement with staff. It was agreed that the Board would be updated on progress and that any immediate comments on the design should be provided in correspondence.

Action 8

DG Strategy and Operations to keep the Board updated on the development of the scorecard project.

Action 9

DG Strategy and Operations to receive comments in correspondence from all Board members on the detail of the Balance Scorecard.

Action 10

Corporate Board Chairs to take forward the development of specific objectives to support delivery of their work plan and common corporate aims.

Item 6: AOB

No AOB items were raised.


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