OFMDFM DEPARTMENTAL BOARD MEETING
29 FEBRUARY 2012, GLASSHOUSE, STORMONT ESTATE
PRESENT: Malcolm McKibbin, George Thorley, Richard Bullick, Mary
Bunting, George Gray, Stephen Grimason, Neill Jackson,
Noel Lavery, Alan Maitland, Denis McMahon, Dara
O’Hagan, Gavin Patrick (in place of Stephen Boyd)
IN ATTENDANCE: Olive Maybin,
David Sterling (DETI), Eoin McFadden (DETI), and Des
Armstrong (CPD) for agenda item 7(b) only
APOLOGIES: Stephen Boyd
Malcolm McKibbin welcomed everyone to the Board meeting and noted
apologies from Stephen Boyd.
1. Minutes of 25 January 2012 Meeting
The minutes of the December 2011 Board meeting were agreed without
2. Matters Arising
Board members reviewed progress on matters arising. Malcolm McKibbin
reported that his discussion at PSG on NI Direct online services had been
deferred to 9 March 2012 and asked that the target date should be revised to
[Action: Olive Maybin]
3. Declaration of Interests
There were no declarations of interest.
4. Current Context
Neill Jackson updated members on the 23 February Executive meeting and
the OFMDFM papers currently under consideration. The Executive meeting
scheduled for 22 March had been brought forward to 15 March to facilitate
FM’s and dFM’s visit to the United States and Canada. Following discussion
the Board noted that the work programme to finalise the Programme for
Government (PfG), Economic Strategy and Investment Strategy would require
a major effort by the Department ahead of the Executive meeting on 8 March
and Assembly debate on 12 March.
Current Strategic Issues
Historical Institutional Abuse: Denis McMahon reported good progress had
been made and that discussions with the proposed Chair were underway.
Hardship Advisory Group: Denis reported that membership had been agreed
and that work to establish the Group was underway.
Barroso Task Force: Noel reported that Junior Ministers would be leading the
local Taskforce’s visit to Brussels at the end of March to engage with
Public Accounts Committee: Noel Lavery confirmed that the PAC hearing on
the Regeneration of Former Military and Security Sites was confirmed for
25 April. It was agreed that he should convene a meeting with HOCS and
relevant officials on the key points raised in the NIAO report.
[Action: Noel Lavery]
Human Resources: Alan Maitland reminded Directors of the importance of
involving staff in business planning and ensuring that the departmental
learning and development plan reflected key business priorities.
Ministerial Visit: Malcolm updated members on the Ministers’ upcoming visit to
the United States and Canada.
Appointments: Malcolm reported that interviews for the Police Ombudsman
position were underway and that the post of First Legislative Counsel had
5. Governance and Financial Management
Financial Management Report: Gavin Patrick introduced the monthly financial
report. He outlined spend to 31 January which equated to 69.3% of the
current budget. Spend profiles were over 2% behind 2010/11. He also
highlighted the forecast under spend following January monitoring and
emphasised the importance of spending to profiled budget until year end.
Malcolm said he would want a detailed analysis by business area of any
under spend at the year end. He reminded Directors of the priority that he put
on financial management and accountability.
[Action: Stephen Boyd]
On the Annual Report and Accounts Gavin reported that draft interim
accounts had been submitted to NIAO. A draft interim management letter
was expected shortly. He also said that the first Finance Forum had taken
place and that this would convene on a quarterly basis. Delegation of budget
holder responsibilities was also being considered.
DFP Annual Compliance Report on the Use of External Consultants 2010 -11:
Noel introduced a paper summarising DFP’s findings on the use of external
consultants. In relation to OFMDFM there had been improvements in the
standard of business cases for consultancy over the last year. However, the
level of delegated authority would remain at £10k. The Board noted the
proposed actions once the report was signed off. These would include the
reissue of guidance by the Accounting Officer and communication of the
findings to staff. It was agreed that this should be an agenda item for the
upcoming SCS forums.
[Action: Stephen Boyd/Olive Maybin]
OFMDFM Business Case Test Drilling Report 2010-11: Noel introduced the
report by the Economic Policy Unit. Annual test drilling was a core part of the
assurance process and was required under DAO 06/05. He said the test drill
found that many of the 2009-10 shortcomings had been resolved and that
progress had been made in the quality of business cases and awareness of
governance procedures required for approval of expenditure. He said that
there were, however still concerns about the application of economic
appraisal and business case guidance which pointed to a continued training
requirement for staff. New guidance on delegations was also being tested
with business areas and would be in place for 1 April 2012. This, in
conjunction with the learning and development plan for 2012/13, would
provide additional assurance to the Board. It was agreed that that this should
also be included as an agenda item for the upcoming SCS forums and
focussing on areas of continuing concern raised in the report.
[Action: Olive Maybin]
City of Culture: Noel Lavery updated members on his meeting with key public
sector stakeholders on 14 February at which broad agreement had been
reached on the approach to Executive and public sector commitments
regarding the City of Culture resource requirements. This was a PfG
commitment. He was working with the DCAL Permanent Secretary and DFP
to prepare a paper that OFMDFM Ministers would request the Finance
Minister to submit to the Executive. The Board noted the good progress that
had been made.
OFMDFM Audit Committee: George Thorley updated members on the Audit
Committee meeting of 25 January. He said it had been a very positive
meeting at which the Internal Audit plan for 2012/13 had been agreed.
Following discussion on ALBs it was agreed that Noel would, in May, convene
a meeting of ALB Audit Committee Chairs to discuss common issues and
share good practice and expertise.
[Action: Noel Lavery]
6. Strategic Planning
Strategic Sites Oversight Group: Noel reported that the NIAO report on the
transfer of the former military sites had recommended the establishment of
strategic oversight arrangements to provide assurance to the Board on
progress on all sites sold to, or transferred to the department. He invited the
Board to consider the terms of reference and proposed membership. Subject
to minor amendment, the Board approved the terms of reference and agreed
that George Thorley should chair the group which would be the OFMDFM
Strategic Sites Oversight Sub-Committee.
2012/13 Departmental Plan: Olive Maybin outlined the work on the 2012/12
plan. The high level scorecard reflected OFMDFM’s PfG commitments and
other Ministerial and departmental priorities. The draft objectives
demonstrated the emphasis on delivery in support of Ministers and created
greater transparency for reporting purposes enabling the Board to focus on
key priorities. Following discussion it was agreed that OFMDFM’s corporate
responsibility on PfG should be included as a target relating to the objective
on supporting Ministers and the institutions of government. Further work with
Directors on targets and the corporate risk register was underway. Changes
to the PfG commitments would also be incorporated and the Board could
expect to see a further draft for consideration at the end March. The Board
noted the position and approved the approach that had been adopted.
[Action: Olive Maybin]
Business Continuity Plan: Alan Maitland presented a paper on the current
status of the Business Continuity Plan and proposals on a way forward. The
Board noted the position and agreed the proposed actions.
7. Policy Issues
Bio-Diversity Implementation Plan: Alan outlined the progress that had been
made and said that a three year plan would be prepared. This was noted.
Using Public Procurement to Stimulate Innovation: Malcolm welcomed David
Sterling, Des Armstrong and Eoin McFadden to the Board. David gave a
presentation on innovative approaches to procurement such as pre-
commercial and forward commitment procurement with examples of how
these were working in practice. He said that this new approach stimulated a
more competitive procurement and provided a stimulus to the local economy
especially SMEs. On the matter of social clauses he said that social
enterprises were useful in public sector issues such as unemployment and
health and he would be willing to encourage this further. Des said that
departments’ commitment to innovative procurement was being built into
annual procurement plans and that maximising opportunity and identifying
sectors with greatest potential would be a key issue. The Board welcomed
the presentation and David’s proposal to work with OFMDFM to identify future
opportunities for the Department.
Investors in People: Alan introduced plans for seeking IiP bronze accreditation
in March 2013 as part of the draft OFMDFM Improvement Plan to be brought
to the Board in April or May. He proposed the theme of Strategic Leadership.
The Board agreed the theme and that the process of accreditation should be
driven through existing line management channels. Alan to consider resource
[Action: Alan Maitland]
8. Human Resources
Sickness Absence: Alan reported the latest absence figures which showed an
increase in levels of absenteeism compared with 2010/11. This related
primarily to an increase in the number of long term absences due to serious
illness. The Board noted this. Following discussion Alan agreed to check
statistical information on long term absence and bring details to the next
Board meeting. George Thorley also suggested that a record of the number
of staff who have had no sick leave would be useful. Alan to also ensure that
there was monitoring, recording and reporting of issues such as OHS referrals
and return to work interviews at Grade 5 level.
[Action: Alan Maitland]
Draft February Departmental Brief
The Board reviewed the draft brief and agreed the content. Denis agreed to
provide some input on the work to finalise the PfG. Alan would provide input
on IiP, training and development, and staff involvement in the business
[Action: Denis McMahon/Alan Maitland]
10. Board’s Forward Plan
There were no items for discussion.
Denis reported that his submission on Delivering Social Change has been
agreed by Ministers.
12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting would be at 10.00 a.m. on 28 March 2012.
1 March 2012