MINUTES OF AN EXTRA-ORDINARY MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON 5 JULY 2007 AT 09.30AM IN ROOM 106Present:
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
In Attendance: Mr T Logue and Mr R Good. Mr N Hamilton and Mr J Dowdall attended for item 3.
1. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker outlined details of a proposal to carry out a review of the Assembly Secretariat and invited Mr Good and Mr Logue to present on the proposed objectives, terms of reference and structure of the review.
2. TERMS OF REFERENCE
The following terms of reference were agreed by the Commission:
- To examine the purpose, aims and objectives of the Assembly secretariat, and identify exceptional strategic projects that may require additional resources and particular approaches above and beyond what would normally be expected of the organisation.
- To identify the appropriate organisational and management structures, policies and governance arrangements necessary to provide the Assembly with the property, staff and services required and to the standards expected.
- To conduct a “Capability Review”, based on the model used by the UK Cabinet Office, to assess the Assembly Secretariat’s capability to address current and future challenges
- To identify recommendations arising from 1 - 3 above and devise an implementation plan and timetable.
3. ATTENDANCE BY HOCS AND C&AG
Mr Nigel Hamilton, the Head of the Civil Service and Mr John Dowdall, the Comptroller and Auditor General attended the meeting and offered support to the Commission for the purposes of delivering some key features of the proposed review. The Commission welcomed the support offered.
4. KEY DECISIONS OF THE COMMISSION
Following deliberation the Assembly Commission agreed the following key decisions:
1. That a review of the Secretariat be undertaken.
2. That the terms of reference for the review be as set out in the proposal paper, and that any changes to these terms of reference that may be deemed necessary by the Steering Group be made only after consultation with the Assembly Commission.
3. That the composition of the Steering Group be as follows:
- Chair: George Reid
- Commission Members: Alban Maginness and Stephen Moutray, with others substituting if required
- Two other members to be identified by the Speaker, in consultation with the Commission.
4. That John Hunter be invited to serve as Review Director to lead the review.
5. That NICS and NIAO staff offered by the Head of the Civil Service and the Comptroller and Auditor General be used to support the Review Director.
6. That relevant Secretariat staff, working directly to the Director of the Review, be involved in the examination of options for the Assembly’s future accommodation requirements.
7. That the review team be independent of the Secretariat, and be authorised to secure independent legal advice.
8. That the review team be given access to all appropriate papers and information required to carry out its work.
9. That the review team be given the Commission’s authority to negotiate any necessary additional Whitley arrangements with the trade union for the duration of the review.
10. That the Secretariat seconds an employee to the trade union at the earliest possible opportunity.
11. That necessary accommodation be provided for the review team, either in Parliament Buildings and/or Annexe C.
12. That the procurement of advice on restructuring the Human Resource function be cancelled and undertaken by the Review team.
13. That consideration of the Whitmuir report on Pay and Grading should be undertaken initially by the review team.
14. That completion of the Assembly’s Terms and Conditions of Employment should be undertaken by the review team.
15. That consideration of the Accommodation Outline Business Case be undertaken initially by the review team.
16. That the Equal Pay Audit should be progressed by Secretariat senior management in consultation with trade union.
17. That the following approach be adopted in relation to the current recruitment campaign:
- Competitions already underway should be completed up to the point of letters of offer, with appointments put on hold pending the outcome of the review.
- Competitions not already commenced should be postponed pending the outcome of the review.
- Existing secondment arrangements should be renegotiated in order that any secondments due to expire prior to July 2008 be extended to that date.
- Any vacancies deemed absolutely critical to the delivery of services to Members be filled through temporary promotion, secondment arrangements and use of agency staff.
18. That the following steps be taken to communicate the Commission’s decisions to the Secretariat and MLAs:
- The Speaker to meet with the Clerk to inform him of the Commission’s decisions.
- The Speaker to meet with the Trade Union at the earliest available opportunity to brief on nature and scope of the Review and seek their cooperation and assistance.
- The Speaker to approve the content of an initial briefing paper on the review to be used as the basis for all communication with staff. Such briefing papers to be issued periodically throughout the course of the review.
- The Speaker to write to Party Leaders on behalf of the Commission, providing detailed information about the review.
- The Speaker to write to all MLAs, on behalf of the Commission, providing a summary of the review to be undertaken.
- The Chair of the Steering Group to meet with all key stakeholders at the commencement of the review and at further appropriate stages.