Executive Board minutes: September 2017

Minutes from the 5 September 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
  • Alyson Stafford, DG Scottish Exchequer
  • Ronnie Hinds, Non-Executive Director
  • Linda McKay, Non-Executive Director

In Attendance

  • Gordon Wales, Chief Financial Officer
  • Nicky Richards, Director of People
  • David Harvie, Crown Agent / Chief Executive of Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Sharon Fairweather, Director of Internal Audit
  • Stuart Smith, NXD – Corporate Governance Review
  • Stephen Kelly, Internal Audit Division
  • Donald Cameron, ET Support Division
  • Sean Doohan, ET Support Division
  • Diane Morrison, ET Support Division


  • Janet Hamblin, Non-Executive Director
  • Barbara Allison, Director for Communications and Ministerial Support

Items and actions

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

1. The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies. Ronnie Hinds, NXD declared an interest in the Self-Directed Support: 2017 Progress Report as Acting Chair of the Accounts Commission.

Item 2: Minutes and Actions from the previous meeting held on 18 July 2017

2. The Board agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2017 and noted that an update on the work of the Performance and Priorities Board would be presented to the next meeting.

Item 3: Financial Stewardship and Risk


3. The Chief Financial Officer updated EB on the latest forecast outturn reflecting on the challenge facing the organisation in managing forecast overspends. The Board noted that the Directorate for Financial Management was about to start the formal budget management review exercise. Directors General had an important role to play in ensuring that they provided robust and effective challenge of forecasts across their DG families. It was agreed that the outcomes of this work would return to the Board for further consideration and any necessary decisions about financial management across the SG as a whole. Ronnie Hinds, NXD, sought clarification on the management of non-cash del and it was agreed further information would be provided on the breakdown of this at the next meeting.

(Action: Chief Financial Officer)

4. The Chief Financial Officer provided an update on the Capital Borrowing Powers granted to the Scottish Government in the Scotland Act 2012. This Board noted the development of the role of DG Scottish Exchequer and to reflect new or revised fiscal responsibilities. The Board noted the update and agreed it would be important, on an exception basis, for key issues to be reported to the board for consideration.

(Action: DG Scottish Exchequer/ Chief Financial Officer)

2016-17 Draft Consolidates Accounts and Governance Statement

5. DG Scottish Exchequer presented the 2016/17 Draft Consolidated Accounts and Governance Statement to the Board for consideration ahead of it being considered by the Scottish Government Assurance and Audit Committee (SGAAC) and signed by the Permanent Secretary as Principal Accountable Officer. The Board explored some of the issues highlighted in the accounts and received assurances from DG Economy on the progress being made in relation to the management of European Structural Funds and the Common Agriculture Policy.

6. DG Scottish Exchequer explained the process of drafting the Governance Statement noting there had been a good level of engagement with Directors General around the revised assurance processes. The Board agreed it was content for the 2016/17 Draft Consolidated Accounts and Governance Statement to go to SGAAC for consideration.

Item 4: Organisational Efficiency

Review of Corporate Governance

7. David Harvie and Sharon Fairweather presented the provisional findings of the Corporate Governance Review for the Board to consider. The structures introduced in October 2016 were considered to be appropriate for an organisation of the SG’s scale and complexity and had enabled the levels of governance reflected in the annual accounts process. In particular, DG assurance meetings were maturing as a forum to provide DGs with the assurance they need to meet their accountable officer responsibilities, and in turn to provide assurance to the Permanent Secretary in her role as Principal Accountable Officer.

David Harvie talked through some of the issues raised for consideration, including the need to distinguish more clearly between the respective roles of the Executive Board and Executive Team. Further consideration was needed about the relationship between Executive Board and SGAAC and to be clearer about the management of risk across the governance structures. It would be important for the review to highlight the importance of the Executive Board’s strategic role and to consider how best to maximise the opportunity presented by a whole team approach comprising executive and non-executive members. Responding to a point about the importance of having access to robust financial and performance data, the Director of People highlighted the range of information in the new Balanced Scorecard and that further work was underway to develop metrics which crystallised essential information for EB. The Board noted the update and that there would be a further opportunity to discuss the review at the next meeting.

Economic Update/ Constitution and Europe

8. DG Constitution and External Affairs reminded the board about the context for the discussion which was to consider what information the board should receive in relation to preparations for EU exit and work around increasing economic performance – and to set out how governance of those programmes would relate to the wider governance framework.

9. He outlined the strategic objectives of the Constitution and Europe Programme and invited the Executive Board to provide support and challenge around preparations for organisational readiness for exit from the EU in March 2019. Linda McKay, NXD highlighted the importance of ensuring that governance structures were designed to take account of the fluidity of the situation and welcomed work being done to achieve coherence across the wide range of activity across the organisation. It would be important to ensure that risk management across the programme also took account of impacts beyond the responsibilities of the Scottish Government. DG Scottish Exchequer highlighted work being done in relation to demography and migration in Scotland and agreed to return to the Board with a further data. The EB noted the update and agreed that the Constitution and Europe Programme Board should be added to the formal governance landscape – and that connecting points with the wider governance framework should be articulated.

(Action: ET Programme Hub)

10. DG Economy described a system wide approach being developed for governance of economic policy work within the core SG and more broadly. These arrangements would draw on learning from the establishment of the Constitution and Europe Programme Board. She noted that work around the economy was less fluid than around the EU and that there was an opportunity to drive forward delivery of the vision for growing the economy set out by the First Minister. It was important to recognise that action was required across DG families. Further consideration was being given to identify appropriate governance arrangements, including whether an Economy Board was required to oversee work across the organisation, and to clarify the respective roles of the Executive Team and Executive Board. The Board noted the update and that the Executive Team was scheduled to give further consideration to the cross cutting work on the economy in support of the government’s economic vision. EB also noted that discussion of work around the economy would provide a helpful test case in thinking about differentiating between the roles of the Executive Team and Executive Board in the context of the governance review’

(Action: DG Economy)

Item 6: AOB

11. DG Constitution and External Affairs advised the Board on the Civil Service Leadership Academy that would be launched in early October and agreed to provide a further update to ET colleagues.

(Action: DG Constitution and External Affairs)


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