Executive Board minutes: October 2017

Minutes from the 3 October 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
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • 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 for Communications and Ministerial Support
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer
  • Julie Humphreys, Governance Review
  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division
  • Sean Doohan, ET Support Division
  • Diane Morrison, ET Support Division


  • None

Items and actions

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

1. The Chair welcomed Ms Humphreys to the Board. Ms Humphreys was undertaking a short term project to take forward recommendations from the governance review. DG Constitution and External Affairs provided an update on Exercise Border Reiver taking place that day. There were no declarations of interest.

Item 2: Organisational Efficiency

Review of Corporate Governance

2. DG Organisational Development and Operations introduced the item and said that the purpose of the discussion was to consider the draft report which would be finalised in light of comments from the Board. Ms Humphreys would take forward those recommendations which could be implemented now and lead work on those where further consideration was required to ensure that the intent and impact were fully understood and accepted. The Director of Internal Audit said that the review had concluded that the overall governance framework was considered appropriate for an organisation of the scale and complexity of the SG. It had enabled accountabilities, decision making, challenge, risk management and assurance to take place and were, overall, fit for purpose. The review had identified a number of areas for development which would build on the effectiveness and success of the current arrangements. In particular the review had highlighted the importance of more fully distinguishing between the respective roles of the Executive Board and the Executive team; and those of executive and non-executive members.

3. Ronnie Hinds, NXD endorsed the importance of developing further clarity about the respective roles of the Executive Board and Executive Team and of being clear about which was ultimately responsible as the main driver in the organisation. Linda Mackay, NXD agreed and also highlighted the importance of being clear about implications for the governance of the organisation of any changes to the role of NXDs. DG Scottish Exchequer said that it would be important to take account of the development of her new role and DG family. In particular, she was developing proposals, for consideration by the Board, for the governance of the SG’s new fiscal responsibilities. Similarly, DG Economy was progressing proposals for a new Economy Board to oversee the delivery of the Scottish Government’s vision for the Scottish economy. David Harvie responded to specific points made by the Board and highlighted the importance of acting on the intent and not just the letter of individual recommendations. In particular, evidence gathered during the review pointed to the Executive Board being viewed as the main driver of decision making, and to enhancing the undoubted value of NXDs bring to the governance of the organisation.

4. The Board agreed:

  • To receive the report once finalised in light of discussion;
  • Further consideration should be given to recommendations around the respective roles of the Executive Board and the Executive Team and the role of non – executive directors in relation to both;
  • Responsibility for taking forward actions from the report would sit with DG Organisational Development and Operations supported by Julie Humphries;
  • To consider further advice about the implementation of the report at the next meeting of the Board.

The Chair concluded the discussion by thanking Sharon Fairweather and David Harvie and their team for their work and for the candour with which they had approached the task which was very much in line with the principles of the SG2020 programme.

(Action: DG Scottish Exchequer/Julie Humphreys)

Item 3: Results and Outcomes

Role of the Performance and Priorities Board

5. DG Scottish Exchequer presented an overview of the outcome of the National Outcomes Review; feedback from recent SCS Leading Together events; and set out the role of the Performance and Priorities Board in taking this work forward. The immediate focus of the Performance and Priorities Board would be to track progress on the delivery of the PfG; develop an approach to refocusing cross-government work on the delivery of outcomes; and to oversee the development of national indicators. The timetable for completing work on the indicator set would be confirmed shortly and would take account of the need to allow for good engagement across government and with external partners around the design of indicators.

6. In response to questions from Janet Hamblin and Ronnie Hinds, NXDs, DG Scottish Exchequer agreed that it would be important to be clear about the relationship between the Performance and Priorities Board and other parts of the governance structure, including the role that DG Assurance meetings would have in relation to the PfG. The SCS Learning Together events had resulted in good engagement from Directors and Deputy Directors around the refreshed outcomes and about how best to collaborate in and outwith government. Summing up, the Chair noted the endorsement of the proposed approach and highlighted the importance of being clear about the role of the Performance and Priorities Board, and to set out diagrammatically how its role related to the wider governance and assurance arrangements. It would also be important to be able to demonstrate a cohesive approach to tracking delivery, within the SG and to Parliament.

(Action: DG Scottish Exchequer)

Item 4: Corporate Board Updates

Place Board Update

7. DG Economy informed updated the Board about progress being made in taking forward Place Board priorities for 2017-18. The first iteration of the integrated workplace improvement programme, created to bring together key programmes of “place” activity will be discussed at the next Place Board meeting and reported to EB in December. Good progress had been made to learn from other organisations and to engage staff from within the SG. An important part of the approach was to ensure that as well as delivering programmes of work, business areas were encouraged to be creative and to take forward change locally. Engagement with staff had included the Race Equality and Disability networks to identify actions that could be taken quickly and which would have a positive and visible impact. The Board welcomed the update around the development of the integrated workplace programme and around staff engagement; and noted the importance of progressing delivery of the integrated workplace programme.

(Action: DG Economy/DG Education, Communities and Justice)

People Board Update

8. DG Organisational Development and Operations provided a brief summary of recent activity which had included further work on the development of the workforce plan which was due to be considered by the Executive team over the coming weeks. The People Board had also recently reviewed the operation of the promotion policy as part of a rolling programme of evaluation which would be communicated to staff in mid-October in the context of the People Plan and of SG2020.

SGAAC Update

9. Ms Hamblin, NXD, Chair of SGAAC updated the Board following the SGAAC meeting, on 26 September. She noted that the draft Consolidated Accounts had been approved for sign-off by the Permanent Secretary and represented the culmination of extensive scrutiny during the preparation of the Accounts by Directors General and others through the DG Assurance process, Executive Team and by the Executive Board – which had resulted in an unqualified audit opinion. The Board noted the importance of being clear, as part of work to take forward the governance review, about how best to ensure that SGAAC’s role was fully understood and that executive and non-executive members were equipped to fulfil their respective roles.

Item 5: Financial Stewardship and Risk


10. The Chief Financial Officer updated EB on the latest forecast outturn and highlighted the continued importance of accurate forecasting and action to mitigate forecast overspend. The formal budget mid-year review process would provide a good opportunity to discuss mitigating actions and would provide the basis for collective decisions about the management of the SG budget as a whole. The Chief Financial Officer agreed to consider how best to provide information and analysis about variations to forecasts in future reports.

(Action: Chief Financial Officer)

Item 6: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 5 September 2017

11. The Board agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2017.

Item 7: AoB

12. The Board noted the next meeting will take place on Tuesday 7th November.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000

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St Andrew's House
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