Saturday, 7 January 2017

Renewable Heat Initiative - Snippets from the Boardroom

The Belfast Deficit
[Click the link]
These snippets from the minutes illustrate a paucity of information, some confusion over the management of risk, a promised update which doesn't appear and a lack of information provided to Independent Board members. 

Only one of the two Independent board members was present in 2013 and 2014.

Treasury best practice stipulates that Ministers chair meetings of their Departmental Boards but Ministers aren't even present so that they could be advised and challenged by Independent members. The Ministers do receive regular briefings from their Permanent Secretaries but this falls far short of best practice. Also, I can find no minutes of such briefings or of those by the Departmental Executive teams [Permanent Secretary and senior colleagues].

The Office of the Information Commissioner should insist that Departments provide Model Publication Schemes so that anyone can easily search and peruse agendas, minutes and officers' report in order to offer constructive comment and, if necessary, sound the alarm. The DETI minutes are in image format ie non-searchable; the DfE minutes are searchable but, curiously, the minutes for July and September were created on 07/11/2016 but not modified. The October 25 minutes were created on 18/11/2016 and modified on 05/12/2016, one day before the BBC Spotlight broadcast.





Added

I raised the issue of the deficit back in 2012 with an Independent member from another Department and got the following reply: "I note your comment relating to the structure of the departmental board in *******. I did understand that the model in Whitehall is not mirrored by Northern Ireland departments. I took up my appointment on this basis. This is therefore a matter for the devolved administrations to form a view on and change if felt appropriate."