Is there a system to ensure that the advice which ministers receive is appropriate? If so, is there a record of whether they chose to act upon it?
Request 1: Is there a system to ensure that the advice which ministers receive is appropriate?
Response: The civil service works on the basis of provision of advice to ministers through briefings and formal ‘submissions’ (a submission is a document containing advice and information regarding policy decisions). Submissions to ministers are quality assured by Senior Civil Servants (SCS) at a Deputy Director level. The obligations on civil servants are set out in the Civil Service Code [Civil Service Code - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)] to ensure that advice to Ministers is in accordance with the Civil Service values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. The Civil Service Code makes clear that the provision of “information and advice, including advice to Ministers” should be “on the basis of the evidence, and accurately present the options and facts; take decisions on the merits of the case; and take due account of expert and professional advice” (para 10 of the Code).
Ministers receive advice from civil servants, but also from a wide variety of external sources, including through consultations and stakeholder engagement, and through advisory groups.
Outwith FOISA, you may wish to be aware that the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee published a report on 3 July this year into Effective Scottish Government Decision-Making, which is published at: https://sp-bpr-en-prodcdnep.azureedge.net/published/FPA/2023/7/3/f8fd92f0-dd28-42aa-b379-3c68f3d33249/FPA062023R6.pdf
Request 2: If so, is there a record of whether they chose to act upon it?
Response: Ministerial decisions in response to ‘submissions’ are recorded by policy officials in the Scottish Government official record. The Scottish Government records management policy is available at Scottish Government Records Management Policy (www.gov.scot)
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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