Scottish Public Finance Manual

The Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM) is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.

FGN2023/01 SPFM amendments: February 2023

Certificates of assurance: 

Internal control checklist 

This section of the SPFM relates to the assurance framework and the signing of the governance statements provided by Accountable Officers as part of the annual accounts process. The certificates of assurance guidance relates specifically to constituent parts of the Scottish Administration i.e., the core Scottish Government (SG), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, SG Executive Agencies, and non-ministerial departments. 

The internal control checklist that underpins the assurances from Deputy Directors (or equivalents) to Directors (or equivalents) has been updated. The checklist still covers the same sections as previous versions, but some questions have been reviewed, amended and guidance notes have been further developed across all questions. Please take the time to review the checklist to ensure you are aware of the amendments. 

1. Risk management – the section mostly remained the same, although questions 1.1-1.6 have been given a subject title, allowing colleagues to have a clearer understanding of the questions purpose.  

2. Business planning - the section mostly remained the same, although question 2.2 and guidance was slightly adjusted to highlight SG priorities and the Programme for Government. 

3. Major investment – the section mostly remained the same. Guidance has been updated highlighting: 

  • all major projects should undertake a PPM Maturity Self-Assessment which should be reviewed periodically 

  • the Programme and Project Management Centre of Expertise (PPM-CoE) library of support provides a range of guidance and support to SG Staff to help them provide a proportionate approach to project delivery 

  • the Scottish Government’s Principles for Programme and Project Management set out a framework of activities that should be embedded to enable and control projects 

  • engagement with Specialists in the planning and scoping stages of projects 

  • all projects should articulate an accurate and up-to-date justification, proportionate to the size of the investment 

4. Project management - the guidance has been reviewed and amended with specific changes to emphasise guidance in the UKG’s Treasury Model and Major Investment Project Guidance in the SPFM. There is also reference to ensuring where relevant, projects are registered with the Digital Assurance Office and that all projects are encouraged to undergo a PPM Maturity Assessment. 

5. Financial management– the section mostly remained the same with minor adjustments providing further signposting and clarification of existing guidance. 

6. Fraud – although some questions have been reworded and content remained substantially the same, there was a focus on highlighting duties around; Cyber Fraud, Scottish Government Fraud Guidance and Fraud Risk Assessments. Question 6.2 has been reworded, questioning if directors have any cases of fraud or suspected fraud in the last year. Questions 6.3 and 6.4 are new. Question 6.3 focuses on if teams are aware of the SG fraud guidance and arrangements for reporting suspected fraud. Question 6.4 asks if directors have identified and documented the fraud and corruption risks specific to their area, by way of fraud risk assessments, ensuring that, where needed, risks are mitigated with appropriate control activities. 

7. Procurement - the section mostly remained the same, however question 7.3 has been updated regarding purchases of goods, services and works in divisions, and question 7.4 was updated to emphasise compliance with the Procurement Policy Manual. 

8. Human resources - the section mostly remained the same with minor adjustments providing further signposting and clarification of existing guidance. 

10. Information - The majority of questions have been reviewed and amended with specific changes drawing attention further to controls strengthening information management and governance. 

11. Health and safety – the majority of questions have been reviewed and amended with specific changes to reflect the arrangements brought into place regarding the facility to request home working equipment to support Hybrid Working, mandatory health and safety training and Risk Assessment procedures. 

12. Sponsored bodies - the section mostly remained the same, although question 12.9 has been updated regarding policy changes in Fair Work. Question 12.12 has been updated to reflect cost effective approaches for proposed changes or additions to estates, whilst recognising the need to move towards a Net Zero estate, and keep within agreed budgets, as per SPFM guidance. A new question was included around cost effective changes to sponsored body estates. 

13. Compliance - the section mostly remained the same with two new questions. Question 13.4 focussed on compliance with legislative requirements for all statutory and non-statutory Impact Assessments. Question 13.5 emphasised training and awareness in relation to delivering impact assessments. 

February 2023

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