Senior Leadership Team Terms of Reference

1. Constitution and Purpose

The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the NIAO. Subject to the C&AG’s statutory position as Corporation Sole and her primacy in setting strategy, policy and procedures, it is the principal mechanism for the direction and delivery of the business and for decision making in the NIAO. 


2. Membership

The SLT comprises:

  • the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG);
  • the Chief Operating Officer (COO); and
  • the Directors.

The meeting will normally be chaired by either the C&AG or the COO.  A minimum of four members must be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate.

3. Responsibilities

The SLT assists the C&AG in the delivery of the key business areas of the Office. Based on the proportionate application of the ‘Corporate governance in central government departments: Code of good practice NI 2013’, its responsibilities are categorised as follows:

Strategic Projects

Update on key strategic projects ongoing in the office.

Strategic Performance

The provision of timely and accurate updates on:

  • Financial Audit
  • Performance Audit
  • Best Practice work
  • NFI/ Fraud work

People and Organisational Development

Ensuring the Office has the capability and capacity to deliver and to plan to meet current and future needs. This would include the provision of:

  • Sickness absence statistics
  • Recruitment information
  • Starters and leavers
  • Learning & Development update
  • Compliance with mandatory training
  • PDP compliance
  • TU liaison

Financial Management

Update on all aspects of Office financing, including:

  • Monthly management accounts
  • Draft estimates
  • Monitoring round bids
  • Audit fee setting
  • Review of financial/ PR audit actuals v budget

Corporate Governance

Provision of up to date information on all governance issues, including:

  • Corporate Plan
  • Strategic Plan
  • Annual External Audit Strategy and reports
  • Annual Internal Audit plan and reports
  • NIAO annual report and accounts

Communication and Engagement

Ongoing update in relation to activities and events including:

  • MLA Correspondence
  • Raising Concerns
  • Staff Survey
  • Auditee Survey
  • Events coming up where NIAO involved
  • Key publications/ media coming up

Risk Management

Ensuring that clear and timely information is provided on the ongoing assessment of risk. This will include the provision of an up to date:

  • Risk Management Strategy
  • Corporate Risk Register

Audit Technical

Provision of detail of all new developments in:

  • Financial Audit technical developments
  • Performance Audit technical
  • Digitalisation

Escalation Assessment

Conduct SLT Evaluation exercise to aid improving communications between SLT and Board/ ARAC.

4. Decisions

Subject to the primacy of the C&AG, matters that will always be dealt with by the SLT include the following:

  • Corporate/business planning, including KPIs;
  • Operational strategies, policies and plans, including but not limited to:
  • HR strategy, including performance management;
  • Learning and development strategy;
  • Digital Services Strategy;
  • Risk management strategy;
  • Anti-fraud strategy;
  • Workforce Planning;
  • Quality assurance;
  • Business continuity planning;
  • Health and safety policy; and
  • Equality Scheme;
  • Audit methodology/approach;
  • Stakeholder Engagement;
  • Budgeting;
  • Annual report and accounts, including governance statement;
  • Performance monitoring;
  • Corporate risk register and notification of escalating risk to the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee;
  • Corporate projects, including change management, business improvement and restructuring initiatives; and
  • Corporate governance arrangements.

To support the C&AG’s statutory responsibility as a Corporation Sole it is the responsibility of every other member of the SLT, to provide the C&AG with comprehensive advice.

5. Information Requirements

Main categories of information to be considered at SLT meetings:

  • Progress and status of key strategic projects.
  • Performance against key efficiency metrics;
  • Progress against corporate/business plan milestones and metrics;
  • Update on governance issues including internal audit reports and other assurance/compliance reviews including progress against each of these;
  • Financial management, including use of resources compared to budgets;
  • Monitoring progress on Freedom of information requests, MLA enquiries, concerns raised by whistleblowers etc;
  • Risk management; and
  • Provision of detail of all new technical developments.

6. Meetings

The SLT should normally meet on a weekly basis. In the monthly four week cycle, weeks one, two and four will be business meetings which will address the delivery of the Office activities as set out in the annual business plan and action points will be taken at these meetings. The week three meeting will review and formally endorse the activities set out in the business meetings against the achievement of the corporate strategic priorities. The schedule for the week three meetings are held at Appendix 1.

The C&AG may convene additional meetings, as necessary. If appropriate, a meeting may be conducted by conference call.

In the event of extenuating circumstances preventing the C&AG or COO from chairing any SLT meeting, a director will fulfil chairing duties for that meeting.

The SLT with the agreement of the C&AG/COO may ask any other officials of the Office to attend to assist with its discussions on any particular matter.

7. Secretariat Support

A member of the Business Support Services Team will provide secretariat support to the SLT for each formal (week three) meeting. For each of these, the Business Support Services Team will agree an agenda with members in advance.

The C&AG will have the final say in the decisions about what business will be taken at any particular meeting.

For each formal (week three) meeting, the agenda and supporting papers should normally be disseminated at least two clear working days in advance. The business conducted at the meeting, and actions required, are recorded in minutes prepared by the Business Support Services Team. The draft SLT minutes are circulated within a week of the meeting to the members and agreed at the next meeting of the SLT.

8. Conflicts of Interest and Conduct

SLT members will demonstrate leadership by promoting the Office’s agreed values and behaviour standards. They will advise of any external interests that may conflict with duties and responsibilities in accordance with the NIAO Code of Conduct arrangements.

9. Reporting and Communications

Minutes of all formal (week three) meetings will be made available on both the NIAO website and sent to Non-Executive members. The SLT will inform the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and Advisory Board on an ongoing basis of matters relevant to their remit. Significant issues such as risk escalation will be reported promptly.

10. Review and Approval

These Terms of Reference will be reviewed in April 2023 by the SLT.


C&AG’s Signature                                    Date 


Governance: Senior Leadership Team

1. Membership

  • C&AG
  • COO
  • Directors

2. Key functions

  • Organisational leadership
  • Strategy development
  • Business planning
  • Overview of key initiatives
  • Staff communications
  • Budget management
  • Performance reviews
  • Quality management
  • Change management
  • Stakeholder management

3. Meeting


  • 2 hours

4. Process

  • Weeks 1, 2 & 4 - informal
  • Week 3 - formal