The CIA presented the Draft Annual Governance Statement. Following presentation of the report, questions were invited from Committee Members:
· A Member asked when the new Head of Law would be taking up the post. The CIA explained there is a three-month notice period so a start date is under negotiation. The Governance Working Group and senior officers, including those in the Legal Team, will monitor and cover as necessary in the interim.
· A Member welcomed the areas for improvement and suggested that consideration in future years could be given to the effectiveness points that appeared to be actions as opposed to explaining how they were effective. It was suggested that, where a few have multiple points but less effectiveness examples, they could be reviewed. This was agreed.
· A Member asked how the Committee can be confident that the assessments are true and reasonable. The CIA explained that the assessments in the report have been challenged by the Governance Working Group and separately challenged by members of the Senior Leadership Team and the areas of effectiveness were changed considerably following this process. The Deputy Chief Executive said that considering multiple perspectives is an important aspect. There is also value in the interim CIA, as a new officer, looking at the document with “fresh eyes” to validate the accuracy of the information presented to the Governance and Audit Committee.
· Referring to the Action Plan, a Member noted that the date to produce a new socially responsible procurement strategy is June 2023 and asked if there was any progress. The Deputy Chief Executive reported that this item had recently been approved by Cabinet and the plans supporting that strategy now take effect.
· A Member asked about the ability of the Governance and Audit Committee to identify potential misconduct and questioned if there are sufficient measures and checks in place to do so. It was noted that there hasn't been any reported misconduct over the period of the current committee. It was queried if a test could be put in place to rehearse the process to provide assurance of the effectiveness of any response. The CIA reported that there were no special investigations last year so nothing to report to Governance and Audit Committee. The CIA to liaise with HR colleagues to check if there are instances to report. The Member recalled some concern about complaints that weren’t received.
· Suggesting some minor amendments, a Member did not recall seeing a report on exemptions of contract procedures rules and suggested that nil reports should be presented. Also, there had not been an opportunity to review procurement processes. It was suggested that some observations about areas for further improvement from the Governance and Audit Committee’s Annual Report could be considered for inclusion in the revised Annual Governance Statement.
· The Committee were satisfied with overall effectiveness. The Deputy Chief Executive commented that the ratings originally designated were downgraded to improve accuracy based on multiple perspectives and to promote future excellence.
As recommended, the Governance & Audit Committee contributed to the appropriateness and content of the draft Annual Governance Statement (2022/23) and considered the review of effectiveness and the assessment made against each of the governance principles. Subject to some minor amendments, the Committee endorsed the Annual Governance Statement for inclusion within the Draft Statement of Accounts 2022/23.
The Chair asked that the Action Plan is brought back to the Committee periodically so that Members can understand the actions taken ahead of consideration of next year’s Annual Governance Statement.