Senior Leadership Team Meeting Minutes Nov 2023

Members Present: 

  • Dorinnia Carville, Chair (C&AG)

  • Rodney Allen (COO)

  • Suzanne Jones (Director)

  • Brian O’Neill (Director)

  • Seamus Wade (Director)

  • Tomas Wilkinson (Director)

In Attendance: 

Julie Brown (Head of People and OD) Agenda item 1.1

Louise Donnelly (Secretary)


Patrick Barr (Director)

Colette Kane (Director)


Apologies were recorded from Patrick Barr and Colette Kane.

Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

There were no issues declared by members.

Minutes of previous meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 October 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 November 2022 to 31 October 2023. 

             Recruitment - Members were updated on the Graduate Trainee Accountant and Auditor recruitment campaigns.  Members also discussed and agreed an imminent recruitment competition for Audit Manager grade. 

             Learning and Development – 

-              Suzanne Jones to liaise with Louise Moss to discuss the sourcing and scheduling of technical training for staff in 2024.

-              Rodney Allen to liaise with Brian Whalley regarding governance and accountability training for all staff.

             Annual Leave uptake – email reminders have been issued to staff with high annual leave balances to remind them of the importance of taking annual leave, particularly in the interest of health and wellbeing.

             Employee Engagement and Wellbeing

All mental health first aid training will be completed by the end of January 2024.

             Projects in Progress

-              People Strategy – The Strategy is currently being finalised after feedback from the Advisory Board

-              Learning & Development Strategy - The draft is nearing completion and it will be presented to SLT along with the People Strategy.

Strategic Projects

Accommodation Project

Rodney Allen provided an update on the ongoing work to resolve the issues surrounding the heating/cooling system, advising members that the Office is continuing to intensively engage with all relevant parties to resolve the issues

Members were also provided with an update on developments concerning the sourcing of tenants for the vacant office space.  It was noted a number of discussions are at different stages with potential tenants.

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 noted the report presented and a discussion took place on a number of points of progress. 

Position re Backlog Accounts

               The C&AG queried the position on a number of audits and members provided answers and an update on the current position concerning the relevant backlog accounts.

Audit Costs

Members noted the report presented.  Some specific costs were discussed and the C&AG stated there were a number of points she would pick up in one to one discussions with directors.

Public Reporting Monitoring Report

Members discussed and noted the current position which would be subject to more discussion at a meeting scheduled for later in the week. 

Financial Management

 Corporate Services Report

Brian O’Neill provided an update on the following:

             Finance – SLT at a recent meeting conducted an in-depth assessment of the current financial position as well as a forward look ahead to the probable position at the end of the current financial year. Members were asked to note that, to date, there has been no contact from any party in relation to a budget for 2024-25.  Members discussed the financial constraints the Office has been subject to in 2023-24 and the need for a budget for 2024-25 that enables full delivery of our corporate priorities. The C&AG advised that she will now write to the Secretary of State for clarification on the process that might apply to setting a budget for 2024-25 emphasising the need for early direct engagement with NIAO. 

Members also noted that the additional bid for £30,000 capital funding had not been met in-year.

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.  Brain addressed some specific queries by members. 

Communications and Engagement 

 Communications and Engagement Report

Video Production - members noted the positive feedback received from the recent corporate videos that have been shared with staff.  All three videos will be made available for staff to use and screen at future events and engagements.

Accessibility Report - The guide is now being finalised and will be circulated to staff in the coming weeks. A training and information session to support the guide is scheduled for Thursday 7 December 2023.

Risk Management

 Corporate Risk Register 

Members noted the highlighted actions in the register that are now complete and have been marked for deletion. No significant issues were raised by members who noted that an in depth risk management workshop with the corporate group would be scheduled in the weeks ahead.

Audit Technical

 Technical Report

Suzanne Jones provided an update on the following key areas

             ISQM Quality Manual – The manual will be presented to SLT on 28 November for discussion and consideration with a view to a formal presentation at the December SLT meeting.

             ICAEW Review – feedback is expected by the end of November 2023.

             FRAB meeting – meeting scheduled for 23 November 2023, Suzanne will circulate the papers to members for information.

Papers noted:

Draft Advisory Board minutes – 11 October 2023

Matters for Escalation to Advisory Board, ARAC, RemCom

No matters were presented.


No items were raised for discussion.

 Date of next meeting – 18 December 2023 @ 10 am