Senior Leadership Team Meeting Minutes Aug 2023

Members Present:

  • Dorinnia Carville, Chair (C&AG)
  • Rodney Allen (COO)
  • Patrick Barr (Director)
  • Colette Kane (Director)
  • Brian O’Neill (Director)
  • Seamus Wade (Director)
  • Tomas Wilkinson (Director)


In Attendance:

  • Julie Brown (Head of People and OD) Agenda item 1.1
  • Anu Kane (Audit Manager) – Agenda item 4.1
  • Louise Donnelly (Secretary)
  • Afnan Arique (Intern)
  • Niamh Page (Intern)
  • Conor Burns (Intern)


  • Suzanne Walsh (Director)



Apologies were recorded from Suzanne Walsh.



The C&AG welcomed Afnan Arique, Niamh Page and Conor Burns who are currently undertaking an internship at NIAO to the meeting.


Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

There were no issues declared by members.


Minutes of previous meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 20 June 2023 were agreed and the matters arising noted as updated.


People and OD

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 August 2022 to 31 July 2023.  
  • Recruitment

Members were updated on the recent recruitment campaigns for Auditor and Senior Auditor posts. Julie advised that the Office will be present at upcoming recruitment fairs at Ulster University and Queens University to promote the Trainee Accountant Programme.

  • Performance Management Compliance - members discussed the status of the mid-year performance reviews and agreed all should be completed by the end of August. 
  • Learning and Development – Julie to liaise with Suzanne Walsh regarding a Technical training programme for staff in the months ahead.


Strategic Projects

Accommodation Project – Post Project Evaluation Report

Rodney Allen provided an overview on the findings in the report and expressed thanks to Brian O’Neill and Christine Williams for their assistance in producing the report.  The overall positive conclusion is that project objectives have been met in relation to rationalising footprint and creating a modern working environment, however value for money will only be fully demonstrated when an income stream is secured from new tenants.  Members were advised that work is continuing to secure tenants for the vacant office space, but the current market remains challenging.


The Report and findings were endorsed by SLT, a summary of the findings will be presented to the Advisory Board at their next meeting.  The C&AG recorded thanks to all involved in the accommodation project.


Strategic Performance

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. Members expressed concern about the accuracy of some information presented and after discussion agreed the report should be updated for SLT to review next week.

Position re Backlog Accounts

    Members provided the C&AG with an update on the current position regarding backlog accounts.   

Public Reporting Monitoring Report

Members welcomed the report presented noting the current position. 

Jobs – Budget vs Actual Quarterly Report

Members noted the report presented.


Net Zero Action Plan – Quarterly Report

Brian O’Neill provided an update on progress to date, members were asked to consider actions proposed by the group to help further reduce Co2 emissions. Discussion followed concerning the energy consumption by the Office building and the C&AG suggested that the group further analyse the impact of energy saving in the new building and any further initiatives that could be taken in the future. SLT recorded their appreciation to the Group for their important ongoing work. 


Financial Management

Finance Report

Anu Kane joined the meeting and provided an update on the following:


  • Annual Report and Accounts 2022-23 - The C&AG signed the annual report and accounts on 30 June 2023 which were certified by Baker Tilly Mooney Moore with an unqualified audit opinion on the same day. The accounts were then laid in Westminster on 7 July 2023. An electronic copy of the annual report and accounts will be uploaded to the NIAO website shortly.


  • 2023-24 Budget - The Office engaged extensively with the Secretary of State in relation to the 2023-24 budget, however, he did not revise his position on the budget outlined in his draft Written Ministerial Statement in November 2022 and the Main Estimates were laid on 3 July 2023.  These Estimates do not align with what NIAO had estimated as they are based on the post October Monitoring position for 2022-23.  The C&AG requested that a meeting be scheduled with the COO, Brian O’Neill and Anu Kane to discuss the implications and outworkings of these developments.
  • IT - A full roll out of Office 365 functionality is set to begin with NIGOV users to be moved to Exchange OnLine (EOL). The roll out is due to commence this month and is expected to continue for the rest of the year.  SLT discussed the implications for the Office and advised that a preferred time-frame of November/ December was preferable for implementation by the Office.

Corporate Governance

    1. Business Support Services Report

Brian O’Neill presented a report to update members on Complaints, Procurement, Legal Advice, Information Management, Governance and Assembly Liaison.  Members noted the content with no issues raised.


Communications and Engagement

    1. Communications and Engagement Report
      Members noted the report presented.  The C&AG requested that a member of the Team should attend the monthly SLT meetings to provide a forward look on Comms and Engagement activities.
    1. Handling Correspondence Quarterly Update

MLA Correspondence

Raising Concerns

Patrick Barr presented a report to update SLT on the current position regarding MLA Correspondence and Raising Concerns cases.  There are currently no MLA correspondence cases outstanding and members were asked to note the ongoing Raising Concerns cases reported.


Risk Management

    1. Corporate Risk Register

The Corporate Risk Register was presented by Colette Kane, minor changes made since the last meeting were highlighted in red for members’ convenience.  Discussion followed concerning actions relating to contracting out and data handling procedures.


Audit Technical

    1. Technical Report

Members noted the report presented, the C&AG advised that she would follow up any queries she had with Suzanne Walsh.


Papers noted:

  1. Draft minutes – Advisory Board meeting held on 8 June 2023
  2. Draft minutes - ARAC meeting held on 26 June 2023


Matters for Escalation to Advisory Board, ARAC, RemCom

No matters were presented.



No items were listed or raised.


Date of next meeting 

19 September 2023.