Executive Board minutes: November 2017

Minutes from the 7 November 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
  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy
  • Paul Gray, DG Health and Social Care
  • Paul Johnston, DG Education, Communities and Justice
  • 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
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer
  • Sharon Fairweather, Director of Internal Audit (for item 5)
  • Julie Humphreys, Deputy Director, Governance
  • Gabby Pieraccini, Head of Constitution and Europe Programme Office (for item 4)
  • David Rogers, Director of Strategy and Constitution (for item 4)
  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division
  • Emma Sinclair, ET Support Division
  • Sean Doohan, ET Support Division


  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer

Items and actions

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

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies. DG Scottish Exchequer’s interests at the meeting would be covered by the Chief Financial Officer. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 3 October 2017

The minutes and actions from the previous meeting were cleared without comment.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk

The Chief Financial Officer updated EB on the latest forecast outturn. The Board noted the Resource DEL position remains challenging. Discussions are taking place throughout the organisation on the budget outturn, culminating at the November/December DG assurance meetings. The Chief Financial Officer will provide an update on the position at the 5 December Board meeting.

The Board noted that the Scottish Government would shortly start using its borrowing powers and that a robust process is in place to ensure that value for money is delivered.

Both Ronnie Hinds and Janet Hamblin asked for an update on the preparations by the Scottish Government to plan for their new fiscal responsibilities. The Chief Financial Officer provided an update that work was underway, and would link into the new Fiscal Board and Economy Board, with assurance being provided to EB on a regular basis as part of the overall governance structure.

(Action: Chief Financial Officer)

Item 4: Results and Outcomes

EU Programme Board Update

DG Constitution and External Affairs provided an overview of the Constitution and Europe Programme’s approach to assurance in relation to Brexit. The Board noted the principles informing the approach; the framework for accessing progress and readiness and the next steps including a return to the next EB meeting with a RAG assessment across the 10 outcomes for the SG as a whole. The Board made general comments about the approach, including the importance of receiving trend information and noting risk of optimism bias. DG Constitution and External Affairs agreed to consider these points as part of the next update and noted the process will be iterative and will utilise the existing DG Assurance framework. The Board endorsed the approach and agreed to consider further at the 5 December EB meeting.

(Action: DG Constitution and External Affairs)

Item 5: Organisational Efficiency

Review of Corporate Governance

The Permanent Secretary introduced this item reflecting that it was an important milestone in the organisation’s work on governance and assurance, which is intrinsically linked to the SG2020 vision to be an open, capable and responsive organisation. Julie Humphreys, Deputy Director responsible for implementing the Governance Review, provided an overview of the supporting papers. She noted that the review acknowledged that the existing governance structures are the right ones and that significant strides had been made in the last year to improve the governance and assurance processes. This was an opportunity to build on this success and further enhance the existing arrangements. The Board was invited to comment on the management response and implementation plan.

Linda McKay and Ronnie Hinds sought clarification about whether the implementation plan recommendations were relevant to all NXDs or just those that sit on EB. Julie Humphreys agreed to amend the implementation plan to provide that clarity. She also acknowledged that the role of the NXDs was one of the most important aspects of the governance review. DG Education, Communities and Justice gave his full support to the recruitment of a BME and Young NXD. The Board discussed the Senior NXD role that is undertaken by Ronnie Hinds and agreed the Permanent Secretary and Ronnie Hinds should consider the role further, notably on whether to include performance management of the NXD cohort. Julie Humphreys thanked the Board for their input and agreed to take the comments into account when finalising the management response.

(Action: Julie Humphreys)

Julie Humphreys invited comments on the reconfiguration of the EB and ET roles and their relationship to the rest of the governance structure. She tabled draft terms of reference setting out the remit, purpose and proposed agendas for the Corporate Board and Executive Team. The Board provided a number of comments which will be incorporated into the terms of reference. The Permanent Secretary asked that as part of developing the responsibilities set out in the remits we test them against some of the live issues over the last 12 months and provide illustrative examples setting out where the issues would be discussed and the outcome. The Board agreed that the revised EB and ET structures should begin from January 2018.

(Action: Julie Humphreys)

Janet Hamblin as Chair of the Scottish Government Assurance and Audit Committee (SGAAC), reinforced the importance of clarity around the function carried out by SGAAC in the governance structure and it was agreed this should be explored further through implementation of the governance review.

Julie Humphreys thanked the Board for their comments and agreed to circulate updated versions of the remits for clearance and provided an overview of the next steps of the Governance Review including the final report going to SGAAC.

(Action: Julie Humphreys)

Item 6: AOB

The next meeting of the Board will be Tuesday 5th December 2017.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000

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St Andrew's House
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