Minutes of Senior Leadership Team­­­, Thursday 23 February 2023, 9am

Members Present:

Dorinnia Carville, Chair (C&AG)

Rodney Allen (COO)

Neil Gray (Director)

Colette Kane (Director)

Brian O’Neill (Director)

Suzanne Walsh (Director)

Tomas Wilkinson (Director) – online via MS Teams



Patrick Barr (Director)


In Attendance:

Julie Brown (Head of People) – online via MS Teams Agenda item 3.1

Tanya McNally (Secretary)





Apologies were recorded from Patrick Barr.



Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

There were no issues declared by members.



Minutes of previous meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 January 2023 were agreed and the matters arising noted as updated.



  1. Strategic Projects

1.1    Accommodation Project

Rodney Allen provided an update on the outstanding issues and advised that these are nearing completion and continue to be addressed. A Final Board meeting will follow. Advanced discussions and negotiations continue with potential tenants.    



  1. Strategic Performance


2.1    Management Information Report

         Brian O’Neill presented the interactive performance report detailing key performance outturns for the public reporting and financial audit programmes to date was presented.  Members noted the report.


2.2    Position re Backlog Accounts

    Members provided the C&AG with an update on the position regarding backlog accounts.    C&AG was also informed that one account cannot be laid without a sitting Minister. 


2.3   Public Reporting Monitoring Report

Members noted the current position, each Member provided the C&AG with an update on individual reports and updated publication dates.  C&AG has asked COO to oversee this work and liaise with the Comms team on the associated publication schedule. Members also noted the good work the data visualisation team have done.

2.4    Charge out Rates

Brian O’Neill presented the paper to the Members outlining a number of options, taking account of various assumptions, for the 2023-24 charge out rates.  After discussion it was agreed Option 2 is most appropriate and a circular to be issued to staff detailing the agreed charge out rates.


  1. People and OD


3.1    People and OD Monthly Report

Julie Brown provided an update on the following:

  • Sickness Absence Statistics - Members noted the absence figures per employee in the rolling period 1 February 2022 to 31 January 2023. 
  • Recruitment Summary – Members were updated on the recruitment campaigns including the Auditor opportunity. which had just closed, and that offers had issued to two new Data Analysts.  Members agreed that the Auditor campaign should go back out for competition as experience is showing the market remains very competitive in an area where we have requirements.


  • FTE – Members noted the current headcount, exclusive of C&AG.  JB meeting Belfast Met next week re a lower-level HLA post for consideration, Members welcomed this.


  • L&D – Members noted the L&D figures.  Members also noted the training planned for the upcoming year.  It was also noted that there is an appetite for further training in public reporting, but currently there is no capacity for delivery.  JB to meet with Louise Moss re developing a training matrix.


  • Compliance with Mandatory Training – Members noted the outstanding figures and individual line managers have been informed.


  • Performance Management Compliance – Members noted the figures and agreed to complete outstanding performance reports as soon as possible.


  • Annual Leave Uptake – Members noted the figures presented and will continue to monitor annual leave balances. In the interests of the health and wellbeing of staff, Members were reminded to encourage staff not to carry over an excess of 9 days. 


  • Employee Relations – There are no current employee relations issues.


  • Employee Engagements and Wellbeing – Members noted the figures presented for the NIAO Wellhub and noted the need for more health champions to support further progress with our wellbeing packages.


  • Future Developments – Members noted the return of two staff members over the next six months.


  1. Financial Management

4.1    Finance Report

Brian O’Neill provided an update on the following:


  • 2022-23 Forecast figures – Members were asked to note the current budgetary position and forecast year end position.


  • 2023-24 – Members noted the current position with an exchange of correspondence with DoF regarding the budget.  The C&AG and COO will continue to liaise with DoF and NIAO as appropriate at this time.


  • IT Update – Members noted that there is to be a migration to a new server in October 2023, so a review of data on of Huggett is needed, BO’N is leading on this.


  1. Corporate Governance


    1. Business Support Services Report

Brian O’Neill updated members on Complaints, Procurement, Legal Advice, Information Management, Governance and Assembly Liaison. Members noted the papers as read. Brian also updated Members on the latest ARAC and Advisory Board meetings.


  1. Communications and Engagement


    1. Communications and Engagement Update

Brian O’Neill presented a paper to update SLT on the following key areas: accessibility, a guidance document for staff on report writing, procurement for print and design, hybrid working principles, office conference and office branding décor.   Members noted the report.

    1. Handling Correspondence Quarterly Updates

Brian O’Neill presented the papers to Members.  Members noted the papers and will continue to monitor.  It was noted one matter should be brought to the attention of the Board for their information. 

    1. C&AG Internal Engagement – August/September/October 2022

Members noted the paper.  It was noted that staff had welcomed the internal engagement sessions and the C&AG had gained much from these engagements.  Julie Brown and Louise Moss to progress specific L&D issues after discussions with C&AG. 


  1. Risk Management


    1. Corporate Risk Register

Colette Kane presented the Corporate Risk Register to the Members, CK outlined the main changes in the cover paper to members.  Members discussed and agreed the changes. It was also agreed that Risk 3a should be retained and an action included regarding the ongoing development of a new public reporting programme.  Members also agreed to include an action referring to the budget position for 2023-24.

    1. Members also welcomed that four new members have joined the corporate risk working group.


    1. Members were provided with an update on the recent Internal Audit Report on Corporate Governance and Risk Management 


  1. Audit Technical


8.1   Technical Report

SW provided a technical update.  She advised SLT that the application of the new ISA 315 approach is progressing well but there has been a higher level of technical input required during roll-out than originally anticipated.  Consideration will need to be given to resourcing the production of an audit manual later in the year.  SW confirmed that AFMD has agreed that, in the absence of an Assembly, the administrative deadline for delivery of the pre summer recess audits will be 7 July.


SLT recorded their thanks to staff in the Technical Team for all the work involved in these projects to date.


  1. Papers to note:


    1. Draft minutes of ARAC meeting held on 23 January 2023
    2. Draft minutes of Advisory Board meeting held on 6 February 2023
    3. Draft minutes of Remuneration Committee held on 6 February 2023


Members noted all the above papers.


  1. Matters for Escalation to Advisory Board, ARAC, RemCom


One matter was noted for escalation to the Board, as previously noted.


No other matters were presented.



11.    AOB – No matters were noted


12     Date of next meeting – 21st March 2023 @ 10am