Strategic Board minutes: March 2016

Minutes of the Strategic Board, which meets quarterly, chaired by the Permanent Secretary in March 2016.

Attendees and apologies


Leslie Evans (Chair), Paul Gray, Alyson Stafford, Ken Thomson, Graeme Dickson, Sarah Davidson, Paul Johnston, Barbara Allison, Catherine Dyer (Crown Agent), Carol Tannahill (Chief Social Policy Adviser), Gary Gillespie (Chief Economist), Christina Allon, Janet Hamblin, Linda McKay



In attendance

James Hynd, Helen Buckley

Items and actions


15:00 Welcome and introductions

15:05 Minutes and actions of SB(15)4th meeting

15:15 Overview of themes

  • performance and outcomes
  • organisational efficiency
  • finance and risk
  • people and capability
  • risk register and oral update on Audit and Risk from SGARC/PARC

Corporate update, SG2020

15:55 Deep dive

  • performance and outcomes

16:45 Reflections

  • feedback

16:55 AOB next meeting 2 June venue TBC

17:00 Close


Please note that parts of the record of discussion are considered exempt from publication and have been redacted.

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting acknowledging it was the final meeting for Graeme Dickson, DG EEI and Catherine Dyer, Crown Agent. The Chair thanked them both for their substantial contributions to the Board.

The Board agreed the minutes from the SB meeting on 3 December 2015 without amendment.

The Action Tracker was cleared.

There were no declarations of interest.

Overview of themes

Board members examined trends and evidence in relation to the four key themes:

  • performance and outcomes
  • people and capability
  • finance and risk
  • organisational efficiency

Organisational efficiency

  • we should consider further how best to measure efficiency of the organisation
  • we should ensure that the data which we capture and measure aids decision making, and promotes value for money, helps with a cost/benefit analysis, and takes account of the impact of technology
  • we should consider seeking out benchmarking opportunities

In responding, Ken Thomson noted the diversity and data recorded for SB. He explained that the data told a wider story connected with demonstrating competent government.

In summarising, the Chair noted the need to consider the data we are not currently gathering, and to consider further the ways in which it can give SB assurance of the effectiveness of the organisation.

Finance and risk

The Board had a discussion on Risk.

Strategic Risk Register / people and capability

The Board reflected upon the strategic risk register discussing:

  • digital capacity
  • in responding, Sarah Davidson reflected upon her recent recall appearance at the Public Audit Committee (PAC)* in taking forward major digital projects, it is important to consider the implementation timescales

Corporate update, SG2020

Ken Thomson provided an overview of the SG2020 programme. The programme has four main components and communications:

  • good housekeeping, use of travel improving
  • investing in our effectiveness
  • Matching Resources to Priorities (MRtP)
  • transforming government


  • the Board recognised the value of the work from the exercises and the staff engagement sessions undertaken so far
  • in summarising the Permanent Secretary observed the crucial role of communications with the SG2020 Programme including face to face interaction with staff


Communication of SG2020 with the entire organisation to be maintained. (Ken Thomson)

Action update: Ken Thomson will provide oral update 02/06/16

Deep dive topic: readiness to serve a future administration

The Permanent Secretary and Director Generals each provided a brief insight, capturing the key areas of advice that they would wish to provide to an incoming administration.

Board Members spent some time in smaller groups discussing:

  • the overarching advice on policy and delivery that should be provided to the Government
  • the key areas in which further work should be done between now and the election, in order to ensure readiness to support the new Government
  • the ways in which we can engage further with our staff in the coming months, ensuring that they have an opportunity to contribute their own insight and expertise as we prepare to serve the new Government, aligning closely to existing staff engagement on SG2020


Directors should engage with their teams on learning from the current administration, and readiness to serve the next administration.

Action update: Directors engagement with teams, completed

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