Critical examination of one identified or emerging risk or issue - Senedd Reform
- Meeting of Senedd Commission Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, Wednesday, 15 June 2022 10.00 (Item 7.)
- View the background to item 7.
7.1 The Chair invited Siwan Davies to introduce this item
and welcomed Richard Thomas, Constitutional Change Implementation Manager to
the meeting. Siwan explained Richard’s experience with implementing previous
reform activity, how he had supported the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd
Reform and his role in managing delivery of this next phase of the reform
agenda and the associated risks.
7.2 Siwan welcomed this opportunity to provide the latest
information to the Committee and to discuss the governance and challenges
around what would be a momentous and all-encompassing transformational change.
She outlined the various elements of the reform proposals which included an
increase in the number of Members from 60 to 96 and a different electoral
7.3 The report by the Special Purpose Committee on Senedd
Reform, which had been published on 30 May, was debated by the Senedd in the
Plenary meeting on 8 June. The motion to endorse the recommendations in the
report was moved, with 40 Members voting in favour. It was considered unlikely
that any wider political consensus in favour of reform would be achieved. This
gave the Welsh Government a strengthened mandate to bring forward legislation
to enact the reform proposals by 2026. It was expected that the Bill would be
introduced by Autumn 2023, and receive Royal Assent by Summer 2024.
7.4 Siwan advised that Commission officials had been working
with the Welsh Government to establish joint governance arrangements on those
elements of the Senedd Reform Programme where a joint interest and
decision-making dependencies exist and support collaborative working between
the Welsh Government and the Senedd Commission. The Llywydd had discussed the joint
governance arrangements with the First Minister.
7.5 The Commission’s Executive Board had been considering
the proposed governance arrangements for the Senedd Commission projects, with
details due to be presented to the Commission in July. Governance arrangements
would encompass planning to support the passage of legislation (business as
usual), reform of Commission services (ways of working) and reform of Senedd
business. Senedd Commission officials would also support the Remuneration
Board’s reform project.
7.6 Siwan outlined some of the key challenges, including the following:
- the need to implement a major transformation programme for the Seventh Senedd alongside delivering business as usual during the Sixth Senedd;
- financial constraints;
- harnessing appropriate expertise; and
- engaging with stakeholders, particularly given the
multiple-ownership and interdependencies of various projects.
7.7 Siwan provided assurance to the Committee around the
detailed planning underway to deliver the reform programme and manage the
challenges she had outlined. The planning would incorporate governance
arrangements for the Commission, and joint working with the Independent
Remuneration Board and the Welsh Government but with clear delineation.
7.8 The Committee acknowledged the magnitude of the Senedd
Reform programme and its all-encompassing effect on delivery of the
Commission’s services. The Chair and members were keen to help in areas where
they could add value and noted that Senedd Reform would be a key area of focus
in its forward work programme. The Chair suggested that specific areas of focus
would be around clarifying and communicating ownership, governance
arrangements, including roles and responsibilities, and resourcing issues,
including effective budget management and use of business processes.
7.9 In response to questions from the Committee about the
inter-related nature of the Senedd Reform and Ways of Working programmes, Ed
Williams outlined how both programmes would report to the Executive Board which
would provide advice and recommendations to the Commission.
7.10 Committee members referred to the potentially
destabilising nature of such major transformational changes on staff and the
need for effective and timely communication. They also stressed the importance
of having a resource dedicated to programme and change management and clear
lines of accountability with an identified Senior Responsible Officer (SRO). Ed
provided assurance on the change management process under consideration by the
Executive Board, which would include internal communication strands.
7.11 In terms of internal communications, Siwan realised the
importance of keeping staff informed about Senedd Reform and the challenges
this brought, alongside delivering business as usual. The Chair considered this
had been pitched well at the recent all-staff meeting with the challenges
expressed in a way which did not raise concerns. Siwan added that consideration
was also being given to external communications, including with
intra-parliamentary fora as the reform agenda would raise the profile of, and
generate interest in the Senedd. The Chair noted that there were no precedents
for such ambitious changes and agreed that other legislatures would be taking
7.12 Richard Thomas highlighted the possible pressure to
deliver change within existing budgets which would inevitably mean
prioritisation of services going forward. Siwan added that resourcing options
for supporting Senedd Reform would be included in the 2023-24 budget which was
due to be considered by the Commission in July. She also informed the Committee
of a capacity review being undertaken by Executive Board and Leadership Team,
with Heads of Service tasked with identifying efficiencies and flexible use of
7.13 The Chair acknowledged the challenges associated with
delivering Senedd Reform. He was confident in the Commission’s ability to
handle change, given the competence demonstrated in planning and delivering
complex activities under challenging circumstances, citing the flexible and effective
response to the Covid-19 pandemic and successful transition to the Sixth Senedd
7.14 From a governance, assurance and audit perspective, and
given the pervasive nature of the Senedd Reform programme, Gareth Watts would
build this into his internal audit plan. He would be proactive in working with
the team to develop ways of providing real time assurance, in line with the
Commission’s Assurance Framework. He would also work with the Commission’s Risk
Manager, who was a member of his team, to re-evaluate priorities to ensure
there was capacity to support the programme’s management of risk.
7.15 It was agreed that Senedd Reform would be added to the Committee’s forward work programme as a standing item. Officials agreed to provide updates to the Committee as plans developed and to present details of the governance structure, including links with the Welsh Government at the Autumn meeting.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Clerking team to ensure a standing item was added to the Forward Work Programme for a corporate update on Senedd Reform.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Siwan Davies to present governance structure diagram (to include the internal team structure and links with Welsh Government) at the autumn meeting.