Senior Leadership Team Meeting Minutes Dec 2023

Members Present: 

  • Dorinnia Carville, Chair (C&AG) 

  • Rodney Allen (COO)

  • Patrick Barr (Director)

  • Colette Kane (Director)

  • Brian O’Neill (Director)

  • Seamus Wade (Director)

  • Suzanne Jones (Director)

  • Tomas Wilkinson (Director)


In Attendance: 

  • Andrew Allen (Audit Manager) Agenda item 1

  • Julie Brown (Head of People and OD) Agenda item 2

  • Tanya McNally (Secretary)


No apologies were recorded.


Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

There were no conflicts declared by members.


Minutes of previous meeting

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


Corporate Management Team (CMT Briefing)

Andrew Allen provided an update on the newly established CMT, discussion followed on the following key areas: staff resourcing, staff role profiles, Time and Space coding and also around an Audit Committee Good Practice Guide Workshop in the New Year. The team will meet again after 19 January 2024; Julie Brown is to chair the next meeting and will provide an update to SLT in February 2024.  Members noted the positive engagement from the group.


People and OD

Julie Brown provided an update on the following:

             Sickness Absence Statistics - Members noted the absence figures presented and welcomed the continued positive trend.   

             Recruitment Summary – Members noted that due to budgetary constraints there is currently a temporary freeze on recruitment; however, looking ahead, recruitment for a number of positions may proceed if further funding becomes available for next year’s budget.

             Learning & Development – Members were advised that a new system is in development with more structure in place around PDP’s.

             Compliance with Mandatory Training – Directors agreed to follow up any outstanding training.  It was noted that there is an ongoing issue with LINKS not updating properly.

             Performance Management Compliance – a note was issued to all employees reminding them of the need to complete end of year reviews and planning for 2024 by end of January 2024.

             Annual Leave Uptake – Members to encourage all staff on the importance of using their annual leave allowances with only a quarter of the leave year remaining, particularly in the interests of health and wellbeing.

             Employee Relations – Julie Brown updated members on the November meeting with TUS.

             Employee Engagement and Wellbeing – Julie Brown agreed to engage with Comms team to promote the WellHub to staff.

             Future Developments – The C&AG noted that allocating work on time and space was to be updated with all staff returning from leave in the coming months.

Strategic Projects

 Accommodation Project

Members were provided with an update on developments to secure potential tenants for the vacant office space, with advanced talks ongoing with one potential tenant.  Brian O’Neill also updated members on ongoing works, including the resolution of the heating/cooling systems.  There remain a few minor issues, but these are being progressed.

 The Assignment & Resource Planning Project 

Seamus Wade updated members on the recent project meeting.

Strategic Performance

Management Information Report

Brian O’Neill presented the interactive performance report detailing number of certified/uncertified financial audits compared to last year and the progress summary to date. The C&AG requested that as soon as all feasibility studies are completed, the feasibility code on Time and Space should be closed off prior to any work commencing on the full study.

 Position re Backlog Accounts

Members noted the status of the current backlog audits and reasoning for these. 

Audit Costs

Brian O’Neill provided an update on the current position, with a breakdown of figures and costs associated with the 22-23 financial audits.  Members were asked to ensure that staff are updating Time and Space with accurate and up to date figures in a timely manner. 

Public Reporting Monitoring Report

Patrick Barr presented the report to update members, all present noted the progress of all the public reports highlighted. 

Net Zero Action Plan – Quarterly Update

Members formally extended their thanks to Joe Campbell for all his work to date on chairing the Internal Net Zero Working Group.  Members also noted that the CMT group would discuss and agree on a successor for this role.

Financial Management

Corporate Services Report

Brian O’Neill provided an update on the following:

             Finance – Members were asked to note the current financial position and the proposal for the 2024-25 budget. 

The C&AG has recently written to the Secretary of State seeking an opportunity to engage directly to discuss the position for 2024-25 and has also written to the DoF Permanent Secretary seeking a meeting with DoF officials and HM Treasury.

             Accommodation – Members noted the updates as reported at item 3.

             IT – Members were provided with further updates resulting from the major outage in IT services in August 2023.

Corporate Governance

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 and papers as read.

Corporate Plan and Forward Work Programme

It was agreed that the public consultation for the Corporate Plan will be conducted alongside the consultation for the Forward Work Programme.  As part of the consultation process, the C&AG and COO will continue to meet with the main political parties and all Permanent Secretaries.

Communications and Engagement 

Assembly/Parliamentary Support

Brian O’Neill updated Members on Assembly/Parliamentary Support and Engagement.  Members were also briefed on the ongoing delay in relation to the provision of five Memoranda of Reply (MoR) for PAC reports published prior to dissolution in 2022. 


Brian O’Neill updated Members on recent communications including the Accessibility Project, Corporate Video Branding and the upcoming publications schedule.  The upcoming events calendar was shared, and Members noted the social media stats.

Risk Management

Corporate Risk Register 

The Corporate Risk Register was presented by Colette Kane. Minor changes since the last meeting were highlighted for members’ convenience. Members discussed the following issues and agreed these should be reflected in the Corporate Risk Register:

             Action required to prioritise financial audits to meet recess and other deadlines for 23-24;

             Additional risk triggers to be added to reflect the impact of a reduced 24-25 budget on delivery; and

             Additional risk and possible actions to be considered to reflect clearance delays being encountered.

Colette also advised members that the CRRWG have proposed a number of initial risks to align to the new strategic priorities within the Corporate Plan. These will be presented at a workshop for SLT in early 2024. 

Audit Technical

 Technical Report

Suzanne Jones provided an update on the following key areas:

             ICAEW Reviews – responses have been provided to ICAEW’s queries and we expect the result of the QCRs to be shared with NIAO in January 2024. 

             WGA returns to be submitted as soon as possible.

             ISA 315 – work on the points raised through the post implementation review is being progressed.

Members considered and approved the Quality Manual.

Papers to note:

             Procurement Manual

Members considered and approved the updated Procurement Manual.

Matters for Escalation to Advisory Board, ARAC, RemCom

Internal Audit Report – Procurement (ARAC)

Next meeting dates:

             ARAC – 22 January 2024

             Advisory Board 26 February 2024



             There was no AOB to note.

Date of next meeting

 19 January 2024 @ 9.30 am