Agenda and minutes
Venue: Conference Room 4B - Tŷ Hywel. View directions
Contact: Clerk: Kathryn Hughes Deputy Clerk: Buddug Saer
Introductions and apologies and declaration of interests
Richard Harries, Wales Audit Office (WAO)
Angela Burns (Assembly Member and Commissioner)
1.1 The Chair welcomed the attendees to the meeting.
The Chair declared that he was currently
a Non-Executive Director on the Electoral Registration Transformation
Programme, on which a presentation was being delivered at this meeting.
No other interests were declared.
Minutes of 7 July meeting, actions and matters arising
The minutes were agreed and officials
provided the following updates on the outstanding actions.
Dave Tosh provided the following update on
the action to accelerate the Business Continuity work and consider the Scottish
Parliament’s approach to engaging MSPs:
from desk-top exercises, which had been carried out with 10 out of 12 service
areas to test their BC plans, would be used to inform improvements to those
were being made for further training on incident management by strategic and
tactical teams before testing could be carried out at a corporate level which
was scheduled for April 2015; and
from the Scottish Parliament and Cardiff Council would inform the approach for
engaging with Assembly Members.
Dave and Claire assured the Committee
that the extended deadline of April 2015 for corporate testing did not increase
the Commission’s exposure as controls and tested contingencies were in place to
respond to a range of incidents. They also confirmed that most of the audit
recommendations would be completed by February.
All other actions would be covered as
agenda items at this, or future meetings.
Internal Audit Activity Report
Watts provided an update on progress against the 2014-15 programme of work
which was on course for delivery. He also updated the Committee on other
activity such as attendance at project board meetings.
reported that good progress had been made on the implementation of
recommendations which would be followed up in due course.
Tosh provided an update on progress against recommendations from the review of
information governance, where the focus had been on resolving practical issues
such as security of mobile assets and storage of information. The Committee
requested a presentation of the Information Governance Framework at the next
confirmed that the review of physical security was due to be completed in the
coming weeks and agreed to circulate the report to Committee members when it
had been approved.
Chair congratulated Kathryn Hughes, the Commission’s Risk Manager, on the
“strong” opinion on controls around risk management.
Watts to formally document the feedback received from Committee members on reports
circulated over the summer, and his responses to this. Feedback and responses to be captured as a
matter of course in future for reports circulated out of committee.
Tosh to present the Information Governance Framework to the February meeting.
Watts to circulate the report on the review of physical security when complete.
Latest Internal Audit Reports
introduced the report on the review of fixed asset management, for which all
recommendations had been accepted and the follow-up report on the review of
facilities contract management.
response to questions from Committee members in relation to fixed assets,
Nicola Callow assured the committee that:
Commission’s accountant would be working with ICT to identify assets which
needed to be capitalised;
over £5,000 would be picked up as part of the interim review of the accounts;
numbers for all assets would be recorded before the year-end; and
assessment of exposure on leases had been carried out to prepare for any
presented the report on the review of recruitment which had been carried out in
response to a request from the Chief Executive.
assured the Committee that the results of the audit were being used to inform a
series of improvements. This would include:
development, by the Management Board, of a set of principles around
decision-making for recruitment;
that the policies, processes and guidance were coherent, accessible, regularly
reviewed and properly understood by staff;
that the adoption of the principles and policies, and the reasons for decisions
around recruitment exercises were transparent;
that thorough reviews were carried out for each recruitment exercise which
would include checks that records had been captured and retained in accordance
with records management rules and data protection legislation; and
better ownership of issues by Heads of Service around recruitment, development
Committee endorsed this approach and emphasised the importance of transparency,
fairness, and effective record-keeping.
Chair also offered to work with the Head of HR to develop the recruitment
principles and review the underpinning policies and processes. The recruitment business case template would
be shared with Committee members.
introduced the HR Payroll report via a presentation. The review was carried out by Gareth and Gwyn
Thomas, an independent expert.
concentrated on the governance of the project, rather than the core
functionality of the system. Gareth
concluded that the scope was ambitious, the resources were limited and that the
timescales were fixed. These factors
contributed to delays in delivering phase 1 of the HR Payroll project.
report did not single out individuals, but highlighted recommendations around
questions that could have been raised by the Investment Board and Management
4.10 Committee members were surprised that individuals
with little or no project management experience were allocated to this
important and complex project and that such contradictory answers were given to
some of the questions asked of the project team.
4.11 Claire was disappointed and frustrated that this project was not executed to the normal standard of other high profile, complex projects within the Commission. She assured the Committee that for future projects of this scale, SROs and PMs would be selected at the Investment and Resourcing Board. Claire also confirmed ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
External Audit updates
Jones introduced this item and confirmed that both the supplier fraud and HR
Payroll project were fully covered off in the 2013-14 Management Letter.
Committee questioned the progress on replacing the CODA finance system. Mark confirmed that there was general
reassurance on the Assembly’s exposure and Nicola agreed to fully update the
Committee at the February meeting.
mentioned some future changes to the WAO audit team and agreed to keep Claire
informed of these resource changes.
Nicola Callow to inform Committee members of the
Finance Committee’s response to the Auditor General for Wales regarding the
2015-16 audit fee (to be considered by Finance Committee at the end of
Watts to discuss coverage of audit on financial controls with WAO.
Callow to ensure sign-off of all outstanding recommendations in the Management
Letter in plenty of time before the year end.
to present contingency plans for the CODA system.
Assembly Commission Governance
Nicola Callow introduced the item on the
2014/15 budget position and the 2015/16 final budget document.
Nicola advised that the current forecast
outturn was for a £200k-£300K underspend but that figure would change as the
year end approached. The budget document for 2015/16 will be laid on 12
Nicola assured the Committee that the
2015/16 budget reflected the overall position of the Welsh Block grant i.e. a
1% reduction in real terms and that different scenarios are being looked at to
help prepare for the possible outcomes of the Comprehensive Spending Review
following the 2015 General Election.
Committee members requested that a
breakdown of the Value for Money savings showing staff and non-staff savings be
brought to the Committee at the year end.
Gareth Watts introduced the item on the
Assembly Commission Assurance Framework.
The Committee was pleased to see the
work coming to an end and requested to see the final draft at their next meeting.
They made the following recommendations:
that the work being done on assurance
should also identify any replication or redundancy of assurance;
the strengths and deficiencies in the
framework should be highlighted;
the framework should reference the business
an assurance map should be produced
showing a RAG status for each type of assurance; and
that thought should be given to how to
evidence that on-going effectiveness of assurance within the Assembly.
Gareth Watts introduced the revised
The Committee commented on the need for
clarity on who the policy covers and the link to the complaints procedure. They
agreed that the policy should be finalised and published as soon as possible.
Presentation - Programme Director Individual Electoral Registration (IER)
The Chair welcomed David Melding AM,
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, Anna Daniel and Suzanne Scarlett and introduced Colin
Dingwall to the Committee.
Colin has been the Programme Director
since its inception. He described the
the fundamentals of the programme,
including robust governance arrangements;
the complex stakeholder management with
Ministers, the Electoral Commission and Local Authorities across England,
Scotland and Wales;
the capacity testing methods used e.g.
substantial load testing of the IT infrastructure;
identifying vulnerabilities and single
points of failure where it was necessary to work with numerous supply chains;
the importance of comprehensive ‘go
live’ criteria; and
the final phases of the programme
including the focus on benefits realisation.
Colin highlighted the benefits of
external scrutiny throughout the programme.
Resourcing has been a key issue throughout, with senior external
expertise required for some key roles including the Programme management Office
(PMO). Internal staff had gained from
this expertise and knowledge had been transferred.
Colin answered a series of questions and
offered the Commission further support and guidance in the future.
The Committee thanked Colin for his
comprehensive and interesting presentation.
Broader Strategic Discussion
Claire introduced the item on Corporate
Risk and highlighted the decisions taken at the last Management Board meeting.
Committee members discussed the
corporate and static risks and how the risks are reviewed. They made the following
and issues should be identified and separate registers set up for each;
and static risks should be formatted and presented in the same way; and
should be given to adding a corporate risk around project and programme
There was discussion around the
corporate capacity risk and how that is being addressed. It was suggested that
the timescale for the removal of the risk should be extended to reflect the
level of work and change in the Assembly.
Claire introduced the corporate
performance report for information.
The Chair welcomed Anna Daniel to the
discussion on Future Constitutional Change.
Claire set the scene on changes since
2011. The following timeline was
Establishment of the Silk Commission
(first report published November 2012);
subsequent debates in the House of
Commons and House of Lords;
Wales Bill to gain Royal Assent by May
2015. Financial powers and electoral
reform would follow in the coming years.
Anna described the capacity planning
work that the Strategic Transformation Service is doing for additional Assembly
Members. The current legislative
programme was extremely demanding and pressure on current Assembly Members was
high. Proposals including scenario planning
were to be discussed at the next Assembly Commission meeting.
Committee members advised Claire and Anna against
just replicating current structures and services to meet the needs of
additional Members. Detailed scenario
planning and business process reviews would be key, informed in part by the
changes to, and further engagement with, the Scotland and Northern Ireland
Effectiveness Survey update
The Chair updated the Committee on the
action plan. He had attended a
Commission meeting in July and would discuss with Claire future engagement
Eric and Gareth agreed to look into WAO
training options for Audit Committee and circulate any relevant information to
Gareth Watts and Eric Gregory to discuss
the Committee’s collective consideration of the new NAO/HM Treasury guidance.
Eric Gregory and Claire Clancy to
discuss opportunities for ACARAC members to liaise with Commission teams.
Papers to note and any other business
Claire asked Committee members to note
that a departure had been incorrectly approved by an official. It had since been signed by the appropriate
Head of Service.
The Clerking team would circulate the
February Forward Work Programme with the agreed actions.