Good governance in the Scottish Government

This booklet is a foundation for assisting and challenging approaches to assurance and accountability in support of the Scottish approach to government.

Good Governance in the Scottish Government

Governance is the over-arching structure and strategy that provides accountability and direction, and that influences our behaviours and cultures.

Governance impacts everyone in their day-to-day jobs, whether we work as part of a team, purchase goods or services, manage people, or control budgets.

This is not just about what we do but how we do it, creating an environment where governance enables positive change and supports strategic approaches to our outcomes.

Governance is about raising awareness and sharing information; taking responsibility and providing assurance to stakeholders; and improving our approaches, learning lessons for the future.


Organisational Control Framework

Programme for Government and Business Strategy, Civil Service Code, Management Information, Budget and budgetary control, Project and Programme Management, Directorate planning process, Scottish Procurement Policy, Risk Management, Counter Fraud Policy, Information Management, Scottish Public Finance Manual. Delivery Essentials: policies, procedures, codes of conduct, Public Sector Internal Audit Standards etc.

Good governance comprises six core principles, each with its supporting values:

  • Leadership: we focus on the Government’s purpose to provide a clear vision and strategic direction to secure an effective and efficient approach based on outcomes.
  • Accountability: we comply with legislation, follow Parliamentary protocols
    and ensure the economic, efficient and effective use of all related resources.
  • Integrity: we promote
    the Civil Service Code and Values and demonstrate that through our behaviours.
  • Effectiveness: we maximise the skills and experience of staff; promote equality; challenge approaches and scrutinise performance.
  • Transparency: we take informed and open, evidenced-based decisions while managing risk.
  • Sustainability: we develop our capacity and the capability to take a long-term approach to
    our use of resources
    and outcomes.

Accountable Officers have a responsibility for ensuring good governance and are personally answerable to the Scottish Parliament for the application of public funds.

We all have a part to play in supporting this role.

Accountable Officers

  • Answer to the Scottish Parliament for the application of public funds.
  • Give evidence before the Public Audit Committee about the expenditure and performance of respective areas of responsibility.
  • Ensure the propriety and regularity of the finances under their control – complying with relevant legislation and guidance issued by Ministers e.g.
    the Scottish Public
    Finance Manual.
  • Secure value for money: the economic, efficient and effective use of all resources.
  • Empower staff through effective management systems and provide support for undertaking designated roles.
  • Ensure risks and opportunities are identified, assessed and managed.
  • Ensure sponsored bodies have robust controls and reporting processes.

Non-Executive Directors

  • Provide effective challenge and support on performance with a focus on continuous improvement
  • Encourage an environment that values staff and supports innovation
  • Assess the quality of risk management arrangements
  • Proactively support the learning and sharing of risks and opportunities with peers across organisational boundaries
  • Scrutinise to ensure effective strategic and
    day-to-day financial planning and management
  • Challenge and support the work of internal and external audit
  • Review relevant performance reports, certificates of assurance and other assurance resources to ensure independent scrutiny of processes.

Corporate Boards

  • Provide leadership and management oversight in delivering the Programme for Government in line with the Scottish Government’s Business Strategy.
  • Deliver effective use and stewardship of public
  • Seek assurances on the progress of organisational priorities.
  • Focus on outcomes through
    an assets based approach.
  • Develop organisational capability, wellbeing and resilience.
  • Review performance
    and improve systems
    of delivery.
  • Secure the appropriate management of risk across
    the organisation and
    arm’s-length bodies
  • Ensure the delivery of effective Project and Programme Management arrangements.


  • Support Accountable Officers in the delivery of their statutory responsibilities in the use
    of public funds.
  • Contribute to the Scottish Government’s purpose by engaging with directorate planning processes to support the Business Strategy.
  • Act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.
  • Adhere to relevant professional codes of conduct.
  • Contribute positively
    to a culture where all
    staff are valued and
    seek opportunities
    for improvement.
  • Champion finding new and better ways to achieve outcomes, engaging with corporate initiatives.
  • Apply Project and Programme Management principles to relevant work.
  • Report any wrongdoing in line with our whistle-blowing policy.


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