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The review set out 37 recommendations under the following 6 themes:

  • Organisational structures - form and function
  • A high value function
  • Supporting public leaders
  • Public appointments
  • The control framework
  • Managing the two-way communication

Organisational structure - form and function

  1. Establish Public Bodies Unit.

  2. Realign resources currently allocated to sponsorship teams to reflect the move of some functions to the Public Bodies Unit.

  3. Adopt a ‘Sponsorship Hub Model’ across Welsh Government aligning sponsorship responsibilities within and across groups to drive efficiency and effectiveness and release resource to support enhanced functions of the Public Bodies Unit and Public Appointments Unit. 

  4. Designate the Cabinet Secretary for Finance as the Minister with oversight responsibility for Welsh Government Public Bodies’ landscape and policy. 

  5. Establish a policy and procedure for setting up a new Public Body and put in place a central approvals process through the Unit which should:
    Challenge the need for a new body
    Agree appropriate model
    Review and scrutinise business cases
    Provide challenge and sign off of new model

  6. Establish a ‘tailored review’ programme. Sponsor leads to consider annually the need for a Tailored Review of an arms=length body, based on the agreed risk framework, with maximum term of government interval.

  7. Consider efficiency savings to the Welsh Government of providing ‘back office’ functions for smaller arms-length bodies to reduce grant-in-aid to those bodies and whether contracts let by the Welsh Government for professional advice e.g. legal services can be made available to the arms-length bodies to save time and resource in running procurement exercises.

  8. Consider efficiency savings of administering grant-in-aid payments centrally.

  9. Explore the feasibility of developing the grants system to be able to run reports by Public Body so that management information on funding of bodies can be extracted for the public bodies report.

Sponsorship as a high value function

  1. Lead sponsor for each arms-length body should be at least Deputy Director band with a commitment to the function reflected in PMR objectives.

  2. Person specification for key sponsorship roles to be identified based on Civil Service Sponsorship Competency Framework.

  3. Training and development package for sponsorship to be developed and offered.

  4. Community of Practice to be established for staff in sponsorship roles within the Welsh Government. To include individuals who support teams in other specialist functions e.g. procurement, finance, FOI, Cabinet Office, Human resources.

Supporting public leaders

  1. Establish Public Leaders Network.

  2. Establish other networks for Board members, Chief Executives, functional heads as demand identified, building on extant groups wherever possible.

  3. Develop Formal induction programme for incoming Chairs and Board members on public sector governance. 

  4. Ensure that all appointees to arms-length bodies receive organisation-specific induction as well as opportunities for ongoing training and development.

Public appointments

  1. Increase capacity in the central Public Appointments Unit to allow it to undertake appointments exercises for sponsor teams as internal clients.

  2. Establish and implement a development programme ‘Talent Pipeline’ for identified individuals with the potential to serve as public appointees, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups.

  3. Establish and implement a ‘Mentoring and Shadowing’ programme for new Chairs, for existing appointees with Chair potential and ‘near misses’ from public appointment exercises. 

  4. Establish and implement a policy on remuneration of public appointees to increase consistency.

  5. Consider the introduction of a probation period for new Chairs and Board members.

  6. Establish escalation procedures for Board members, Chairs and Chief Executives in case of failing relationships.

Control framework

  1. Control framework (documents, templates, guidance including Managing Welsh Public Money) to be reviewed in light of findings of this report and the Public Bodies Review Group assessment.  Re-issued with clarity around mandatory and flexible provisions e.g. Well-being Future Generations. 

  2. Control documents to be held centrally and checked for compliance with guidance.

  3. Move  to “Term of Government” remit letters with ‘Term of Government’ budget allocations  (firm for first year, indicative for remaining years with caveats relating to budget fluctuations and timing of any planned tailored reviews) Budget allocations will continue to be confirmed on an annual basis with indicative allocations as appropriate i.e., aligned with WG budget planning horizons.  

  4. Term of Government remit letters to be issued on approval of ‘Term of Government’ strategies and business plans provided by the arms-length body. 

  5. Establish Risk Assessment Framework for Public Bodies based on concept of Earned Autonomy and establishing oversight regime. Risk assessments to be undertaken on each arms-length body.

  6. Explore the opportunity for co-operation between the  Welsh Government  Internal Audit Services and the internal audit functions of the arms-length bodies to develop audit programmes which could provide  more holistic internal audit assurances to ‘those charged with governance’ i.e. ARCs.

  7. Clearer guidance to be provided on Accounting Officer accountability and ‘calling-in requirements’ e.g. actions that fall under the definition “novel, contentious and repercussive”.

Managing the two way communication

  1. Confirm a policy on Welsh Government officials’ attendance at arms-length bodies’ boards and audit and risk committees.  If attending, consider seniority of official (DD grade), and status (silent observer, participatory observer, or “Public Guardian”).

  2. Establish protocol for communication with arms-length bodies - a ‘single funnel’ approach to include an annual/triennial commissioning framework and mechanism for reducing frequent or repetitive requests for information.

  3. Establish an on-line ‘Governance Portal’ to facilitate sharing of information (remit letters, business plans, framework documents) between the Welsh Government, Chairs and Chief Executives and enable on-line ‘chat/message’ facility to provide a forum for sharing best practice, discussion of issues and advice/resolution of problems and to support ‘joining up’ and working together.   

  4. Ensure Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers are briefed at Machinery of Government changes in respect of any arm’s length body for which they will have responsibility. Include in the briefing guidance on any intervention powers taking account of the bodies’ statutory duties.

  5. Provide induction training to Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers on arms-length bodies.

  6. Establish protocol for communication between an arms-length body, the sponsor team and senior civil servants which ensures consistent messaging with Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers, their Private Offices and Special Advisers. 

  7. Ensure that sponsors are clear about their role in respect of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and requirements on the arms-length-bodies they are responsible for.