Board minutes October 2019

Published: 03 December 2019
Freedom of information class: How we take decisions

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Chair   Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland
Present Janet Egdell
Billy Harkness
Kenny Crawford
Chris Kerr
Deepa Mann-Kler
Jayne Scott
Andrew Miller
Shrin Honap
Andrew Harvey
In attendance Stephen Welham
Alan Howie (item 8)
Katherine Falconer (item 8)
Lyndsey Dougan (item 9)
Keith Robertson (item 11)
Stephanie Brown (item 11)
Chris Hair (item 11)
Nikki Duke (item 14)
Apologies None
Secretariat Lucy Walker
Rachel Bisset

Introduction, apologies and declaration of interests

1. Jennifer Henderson welcomed everyone to the October RoS Board meeting.  No apologies were received.

2. Jennifer noted that board members had recently returned their updated Registers of Interests as part of an annual review. No declarations of interest were made.

Minute of previous meeting

3.  The minute of the meeting of 20 - 21 August 2019 was accepted as an accurate reflection of the meeting.

4.  The board had a discussion around transparency and noted that a transparency project had been set up in order to increase RoS’s transparency. The board noted that a redaction policy would be created as part of this project and highlighted that the policy should have robust guidance around the handling of commercially sensitive information.

5.  The board agreed they would be keen to test any proposals when the draft policy and procedure is created, before the go live.

6.  The  board noted that a fuller update on transparency would be presented to a board in the New Year.

7.  The board also thanked the Non-Executive Directors for their involvement in the Big Picture sessions. It was agreed that their attendance was well received by colleagues.

Action log

8. The board agreed that the following actions are now closed:

3877, 3981, 3982, 3986, 3987, 3988, 3989, 3990, 3991, 3993, 3994, 3995, 3996, 3999, 4000, 4001, 4002, 4004.

9. The board agreed that the following actions are ongoing:

3664, 3872, 3874, 3878, 3890, 3983, 3984, 3985, 3992, 3997, 3998, 4003.

Risk Assurance Framework

10. Billy Harkness and Jayne Scott talked the board through the Risk Assurance Framework.

11. The board noted that the Audit and Risk Committee had updated and approved the framework as seen and have overseen a huge amount of work to get it to this stage.

12. The board agreed it would be helpful to collate the areas of assurance under different classifications in order to review collectively for greater assurance.

13. The  board  also  agreed  it  would  be  helpful  to  link  the  assurance framework to the Strategic Objectives to provide some form of assurance of ability to achieve our strategic objectives and a longer term view of where we could go off track if risks aren’t managed right away.

14. The board agreed it would be helpful to display the inherent hierarchy of controls more clearly in order to avoid duplication and to get the best input from the right people at the right time. The board agreed that Jim McConnell should work with the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) to determine which risks should be more formally reported and reviewed by the board and which risks the ARC should review more fully.

15. The board noted that a discussion paper on target risk scoring and relationship with risk appetite is being prepared for EMT and ARC consideration and recommendations will be provided to a future RoS Board.

16. The board suggested that it would be helpful to show the route to green on the assurance framework for those with limited assurance and if the route to green is unknown then the board can assess the target score more accurately.

17. The  board  acknowledged  the  great  work  to  get  the  assurance framework  to  this  stage  and  the  great  discussion  it  has  generated and thanked all involved. It was agreed this should be refined by the ARC and brought back to a board at the appropriate time to review again.

18. The board thanked Billy and Jayne for the update.

ONS update

19. Janet Egdell provided a verbal update on ONS.

20. The board noted that the Office of National Statistics had confirmed their decision to change RoS’s classification to ‘central government’ for the purpose of the National Accounts.

21. Janet advised that discussions are ongoing with colleagues at Scottish Government on what this will mean in practical terms for RoS.

22. The board thanked Janet for the update.

No deal Brexit preparations

23. Janet Egdell provided an update on Brexit Preparations at RoS.

24. The board noted that RoS set up a Brexit working group towards the end of 2018 to develop and implement any actions needed within RoS to prepare for Britain’s exit from the EU.

25. The board noted that the working group have identified a range of potential impacts on colleagues, registration processes, data flows and the demand for our services, however, consider that our current business continuity plans mean we are adequately prepared for the impacts of Brexit on RoS. This includes impacts to the housing market, loss of individual expertise, potential changes to data hosting and how we will handle requests to register non-UK documents.

26. The board noted that a small number of colleagues who could be affected through citizenship issues have been identified, and we have encouraged colleagues to take part in the EU Nationals network set up by Scottish Government, providing information and support. RoS also arranged for a solicitor to give a Brexit information session for EU/EEA citizens at RoS, which was well attended. RoS have also issued regular updates to colleagues to provide reassurance on RoS preparations for the anticipated exit.

27. The board thanked Janet for the update.

Developing a data strategy

28. Alan Howie joined the board to talk through the development of a data strategy.

29. Alan provided a presentational update covering his career history, the vision, principles and scope of developing a data strategy, where we are now, next steps and proposed activities for the next 12 months.

30. The board discussed the potential and opportunities of a data driven land register and noted that 2024 is key once the land register is complete. The board also highlighted that what RoS may wish to do in the future may indeed inform the data we require and therefore we should regularly revisit the discussions around future appetite, interest, investment and benefit return. The board highlighted the importance of gauging public interest when considering new opportunities.

31. The board noted the ongoing creation of a data warehouse to hold RoS data in a single searchable source.

32. The board thanked Alan for the update and were supportive of the data strategy.

Geovation showcase

33. Lyndsey Dougan joined the board to provide an update on Geovation activities and progress to date.

34. The  board  noted  that  there  were  24  viable  applications  received through the process from both Geotech (technology based on geospatial information) and proptech (technology based on property information) start- ups.  Applicants came from areas across Scotland including Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perthshire. Shortlisting and assessments have taken place and three start-ups have now been selected to take part in the first Geovation Scotland cohort.

35. The board suggested that the Geovation success criteria should be agreed at the earliest opportunity and noted that the Business Portfolio Board will be revisiting the original business case to track the investment.

36. The  board  highlighted  that  the  risks  should  be  tracked  and  the Geovation Team agreed to arrange a briefing from the RoS policy team on any potential sensitivities.

37. The board thanked Lyndsey and the Geovation Cohort for hosting the board over lunch and for an interesting discussion.

Domain update

38. Stef Brown, Keith Robertson and Chris Hair joined the board to provide an update on how the work of the Service Alignment Team and the domain teams is progressing.

39. The board noted that the Service Alignment Team had been set up to integrate senior managers across the business from Operations, People & Change, Product,  and Service  &  Digital  areas  to  deliver  improvements  in  a product managed way.

40. The board noted the 6 domains being focussed on were Land Register, Mapping, Customer Facing, Data, Supporting and Other Registers.

41. The board noted the successes and benefits achieved to date.

42. The board were pleased to hear that product owners are in place for all products and noted that the domain work was currently underspent on budget, mainly due to resourcing gaps.

43. Stef talked the board through the ‘goal tree’ which is a living document containing 78 deliverable steps required to achieve goals.  The board noted that SAT really valued operating from feedback and have regular check ins with the domains.

44. Chris talked the board through benefit tracking, which the board noted has a new approach, which is tied to the goal tree. The board noted that domain benefits have been identified with incremental value release in mind, building towards larger, end stage benefits.

45. The board welcomed the benefit approach and were interested to see financial vs non-financial vs cost at a future update. The board highlighted the importance of being clear how risk reduction shows as a benefit and to be clear when the financial benefits are expected to be achieved.

46. Keith provided an update on the sustainable digital estate. The board noted the heatmap progress to date and were impressed to hear that the heatmap legend had been complimented with numbers to create a sustainability score.

47. The board agreed that the Audit and Risk Committee would benefit from a similar update at a future meeting and commented that they were hugely impressed and haven’t seen this type of work done better anywhere else.

48. The board thanked Stef, Chris and Keith for the impressive and informative update.

Corporate Plan update and forward investment plan

49. Janet Egdell and Stephen Welham provided a verbal update on the corporate plan and forward investment planning.

50. The  board agreed that the vision, objectives and values  were  all working well and the themes broken down into 8 priorities still felt appropriate.

51. The board noted the workforce plan summary of forecast and noted that there had been some over optimism in the first 6 months with the recruitment timescales. The board noted that there would be a People@RoS workshop at the November board.

52. The board noted the financial update, which was not yet a full forecast due to the timing of reporting. The board had a discussion around the importance of accurate financial projections and the options available to improve figures. It was agreed that this would be considered further and brought back to a future board.

53. The board noted that some KPIs may change, this would be decided at EMT and reported back to the board at the appropriate time.

54. The board agreed to review the updated corporate plan and potential update narrative out with committee at the appropriate time.

55.  The board thanked Janet and Stephen for the update.

ROS Conference briefing

56. Nikki Duke joined the board to provide an update on the upcoming RoS Conferences.

57. The board noted the arrangements and their role at the events and noted that a fuller briefing will be provided in advance of the events.

58. The board thanked Nikki for the update.

Papers for noting

59.    Governance Risk Discussion Tracker – the board noted the risk discussion tracker.

60.     ARC Minutes August 2019 – the board noted the August Audit and Risk Committee Minutes.

61.     Board Paper Template – the board noted the updated board paper template and endorsed its use for future meetings.

Board observer feedback

62. Andrew Miller advised that the time keeping throughout the meeting had areas for improvement, although noted that the Chair managed to get through all agenda items.

63. Andrew suggested that there were too many presentations where a paper had already been tabled, causing duplication. It was agreed that a presentation would not be accepted where a paper has been tabled at future meetings.

64. Andrew suggested that it may be beneficial for the NEDs to have the opportunity  to  consider  things  as  a  group  occasionally  and  may  wish  to arrange to meet as a group in advance of future boards.   It was noted by other NEDs that the NEDs have occasionally compared notes ahead of Board meetings on some items but the Chair also noted that, as an advisory Board, she particularly welcomed a diversity of views from NEDs.

65. Andrew highlighted that the ask of Non-Executive Directors was not always clear within the papers or on the agenda. The Chair noted that the focus of the Board agenda today was for strategic input and it was agreed to make the specific advice required clearer in the papers for future boards.

66. The board thanked Andrew for the constructive feedback.

Any other business

67. No other business was discussed.

Date of next meeting

68. The board noted that the next meeting was scheduled to take place on 27 November 2019.

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