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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2010 (Paper 6)
Management Board Report to the Commission

Date: 30 September 2010
Time:16:00
Venue:Conference Room 4B
Author name and contact number: Claire Clancy, ext 8823

This paper has been prepared for consideration by the National Assembly for Wales Commission. It has been deemed suitable for publication after such consideration in line with the Commission’s rules for conduct of business. Premature publication or disclosure of the contents of this paper is not permitted as this might prejudice the Commission’s deliberations.

1.0 Assembly Commission’s Strategic Goals

1.1 Strategic Goal – Promoting and widening engagement in devolution

(a) Media Coverage

Since the last meeting the media relations team has been concentrating on issuing a number of positive stories from the National Assembly during the summer recess period.  Coverage included the Eisteddfod Sessions, the summer tour of the Assembly bus around the various shows, an article about how the National Assembly is making use of social networking sites to increase public engagement, the re-launch of the e-petitions system and, including an accompanying bilingual video, an essay piece from the chair of the Children and Young People’s Committee about the work it is doing in terms of children’s rights.

There were some negative stories during this period including coverage of the pay award to staff.  However, this was followed up with a positive story about the work the National Assembly is doing in taking a lead on finding budget savings.

The media team has been working towards implementing new ways of working to ensure more coverage in local newspapers and radio.  The team has also started implementing a multi-media communications plan to support the Assembly elections in 2011 as well as an information campaign on the referendum on increased law-making powers for the Assembly.

(b) Outreach and International Relations

Events on the Assembly’s Estate

The Events team covered a total of 94 events between April and July but of particular interest were:

  • the Unity Festival that took place between Monday 28 June and Sunday 4 July in the Pierhead.  Now in its third year the festival celebrates art created by all and enjoyed by all.  Taking part in the festival were national and international companies and artists specialising in inclusive arts, learning disability arts and disability arts;

  • the performance of the Destiny Africa Children’s Choir in the Pierhead.  The choir, now undertaking its second tour, is made up of 15 children aged between 8-16 who have been orphaned, or left with a parent who can no longer care for them, due to war, HIV and AIDS related illness and who live in the Kampala Children’s Centre in Uganda;

  • the National Armed Forces Day - the day began with a parade of troops from Cardiff Castle which ended in Cardiff Bay.  More than 50,000 people, including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Armed Forces Air Chief Marshal, Sir Jock Stirrup, attended the celebrations in Cardiff Bay.  The Pierhead held three exhibitions in the main hall - Western Front Association, Merchant Navy Association and the Royal Observer Corps.  Lectures were held in the seminar rooms on decisive battles of WW1, which had a great response;

  • the Summer Welsh Food Fayre in the Pierhead - in cooperation with our catering contractors Charlton House we organised a food fayre event to highlight the variety and quality of premium Welsh products; and

  • the Battle of Britain - on 30 June the Pierhead hosted a reception to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  In attendance were the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan and RAF veterans including Flight Lieutenant William Green - who was a Battle of Britain pilot with 501 Squadron.

Summer Events across Wales

Our theme for this year was Vote 2011 and most of our activities were focused on encouraging the public to understand the importance of active participation in the democratic process through their votes and the Presiding Officer and other Members were invited to participate in workshops with first time voters.

At the National Eisteddfod we had a new focus by hosting a series of debates and discussions at The Societies tents.  The topics ranged from a discussion on ‘The Current Challenges Facing Public Services’ led by Elan Closs Stephens, Political Commentator, Richard Wyn Jones, led a discussion on ‘The Forthcoming Referendum on Law Making Powers for the National Assembly; and the Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, led a session on ‘The Constitution and its Future Impact on Wales’.

CPA

The CPA Wales Branch is currently being represented by Janet Ryder AM, at the 56th CPA Annual Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya.  During the conference Janet will address the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentarians on ‘Strategies to increase Women’s representation in Democracy (Parliament)’.

Outreach

The team is working with a variety of interested organisations to deliver workshops and partnerships to encourage wider engagement with the Assembly from all sectors and parts of Wales.  Since July, the following organisations have expressed an interest in finding out more about the National Assembly for Wales and how to engage with the Assembly: Shelter, WCVA, Prince’s Trust, One Voice Wales and a variety of Housing Associations.

The Outreach Bus has visited the national summer events with great success.  The bus provided a more focused space for discussion, presentations and workshops and generated positive feedbacks from visitors.  As well as the main national shows, the bus also visited the following local shows - Sioe Aberystwyth, Sioe Ceredigion, Sioe Môn, Sioe Dinbych a Fflint, Sioe Bedwellty, Sioe Meirionydd, Sioe Sir Fynwy, Mardi Gras, Cardiff, Sioe Usk.

1.2 Strategic Goal – Unity, leadership and a bold response to constitutional change

(a) Assembly Business Update

Legislative programme

Since the last report to the Commission the final proposed Measure from the Government's 2009 legislative statement (Local Government) has begun the scrutiny process.  A further Member-proposed Measure (Ann Jones AM – domestic fire safety) has also begun the scrutiny process.

The first Commission-proposed Measure (National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure) received Royal Approval on 21 July making a total of 11 Measures and 15 Orders which have received Royal Approval in the Third Assembly.

Following the Government’s Legislative Statement, we understand that three proposed Measures and one proposed Order are likely to be introduced in the autumn term.  The Business Committee has considered a range of options to ensure the passage of legislation is prioritised and has agreed to consider each of these on a case by case basis once the detail emerges.

(b) Business Change Programme

Work on projects within the Business Change Programme continues and a critical review of projects took place in July.  Outcomes are favourable and show confidence by project managers to deliver within budget and timescale.  A further critical review will take place in October.  Of note, the Legislation Software project will have selected its supplier by the end of September.  The main benefits of this project are:

  • delivery of a more reliable, long term system for managing the legislative process; and

  • maximising business efficiency by reducing the need for staff to manually correct errors arising from the current system.

(c) UNO Update

The main rollout in Ty Hywel has been completed, and all Assembly staff based in Cardiff Bay are now on the GF network.  Rollout for homeworkers and outreach staff commenced on 6 September, and the rollout for staff in the north Wales office will take place on 22-23 September.  Rollout for Assembly Members and Assembly Member Support Staff started on 13 September and will continue until mid-October.  As of week ending 17 September the project has completed 92 upgrades for Assembly Members and their staff.

There are some outstanding issues that have been raised during the various rollouts.  The UNO project team and Merlin service desk are managing these issues, and have implemented a prioritisation system to manage them more effectively.  The project managers also continue to manage costs very tightly during these final stages of the project.

1.3 Strategic Goal – Respect, probity and good governance

(a) Annual Report and Accounts

For the third year running, the Auditor General for Wales has issued an unqualified opinion on the Commission’s Statement of Accounts.  The Accounts for 2009-10 were laid before the Assembly on 15 July, and the Commission’s Annual Report and Accounts 2009-10 was published on the same day.

The Finance team and Wales Audit Office colleagues are reviewing lessons learnt from 2009-10 and finalising the Management Letter.

(b) Independent Advisers

The three-year appointments for the four independent advisers to the Commission will end in November.  Their contracts are renewable for up to a further three years.  The cost to us is £5,000 per person (plus an additional £2,000 for Richard Calvert who chairs the Audit Committee).  We are satisfied that this represents excellent value for money given their experience, skills and the contribution they have been prepared to make to our work.  All four individuals have indicated that they are prepared to continue in their roles.  To ensure continuity, we are renewing their contracts for different periods and plan to replace two of the independent advisers in 2012 and the other two in 2013.  The contract for Tony Morgan, who chairs the Remuneration Committee which meets less frequently, is being renewed until January 2014 at a cost of £1,250 per annum.

(c) Scaling the Wall - an event to mark International Day of Disabled People 2009 – Actions for change

Following the event held in December 2009, the Scaling the Wall report has been published and pulls together the issues raised on the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in democracy.  It has been published on the Assembly’s website and sent to politicians and organisations across Wales in order to continue to raise awareness about issues affecting disabled people and to bring about positive change.

More information and a link to the report is available here:

http://www.assemblywales.org/newhome/new-news-third-assembly.htm?act=dis&id=195597&ds=9/2010

1.4 Strategic Goal – Working sustainably

(a) Annual Environmental Report

The Annual Environmental Report was approved at the Management Board meeting on 16 September as part of the Green Dragon Environmental Management System (EMS).  The Board noted accreditation was retained at level 5 for the whole estate in 2009-10, achievement against targets and the recommendations of the Clear Skies Group.

1.5 Strategic Goal – The best service, provided in the most effective way

(a) Record of Proceedings

From the beginning of the autumn term, a fully bilingual Cofnod Cryno/Concise Record is being piloted with the aim of providing a more customer friendly approach to accessing our proceedings.  This replaces the full translation of the Record of Proceedings, implementing the recommendation of the Independent Review of Bilingual Services.  A paper on the development of our plans to provide a new Welsh Language Scheme for the Fourth Assembly and the Assembly Measure providing the legal framework for it will be prepared for the Commission meeting in November.

(b) Nursery Update

Darling Buds nursery in Cardiff Bay has completed the work to extend and adapt the current premises to provide improved childcare facilities for all age ranges and the dedicated Assembly spaces.  It is expected that Darling Buds will receive full accreditation of the new facilities by the end of September.  In the interim they are updating their policies and once finalised Human Resources will add them and all the necessary information to their Intranet pages.

A news page item to update everyone working in the Assembly will be posted at the start of term.  It will include photographs of the completed facility and confirm the arrangements for securing a space.

The Assembly will have ten guaranteed places at Darling Buds and these spaces will be available for children whose parent or guardian works at the Assembly; this includes Assembly Members, Assembly Member Support Staff, Assembly staff and contractors.

(c) Host Broadcaster

Bow Tie television officially started as the new host broadcaster on 1 August.  They have conducted an audit of the broadcasting equipment, made some operational changes and completed all post-recess checks on the equipment.  The team that Members will see on a day-to-day basis has not changed.

(d) Senedd

During the summer recess ICT and Broadcasting replaced the video screens used by members of the public in all four public galleries in the Senedd; they also replaced the computer system that displays the multimedia content.  External Communications is developing new content which will give the public a better experience when watching Plenary and committees.  Over the next few weeks the system that displays multimedia content on the information pods spread throughout the Senedd is also being replaced.

2.0 Key Activities and Events

2.1 Staffing update

There were originally over 50 expressions of interest for the early departure scheme.  The number of staff interested in the early severance dropped to 34 following the receipt of formal estimates of the severance package.  The decision panel of Directors met on 21 September and made final decisions on who should be offered severance.

2.2 Pierhead/Wales Governance Centre

At its May 2010 meeting, the Assembly Commission agreed in principle to support a proposal to accommodate the Wales Governance Centre in the newly-refurbished Pierhead.  The aim of the proposed partnership is to harness the research capacity of Wales’ leading universities in order to support the work of the National Assembly for Wales, helping to make devolved governance as effective as possible and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for the people of Wales.  A draft Memorandum of Understanding has been drawn up.

2.3 Referendum

The National Assembly for Wales is represented on the Referendum Project Board, which includes participants from the Wales Office, the Welsh Government, the Electoral Commission and the Welsh Language Board.  The Project Board looks at all aspects surrounding the proposed referendum on law-making powers.  In the meantime, we have devised a public engagement campaign based on the theme of Vote 2011 – incorporating information on the general election for the National Assembly and the UK Alternative Vote referendum as well as on the referendum about law-making powers in Wales.  The eye-catching and informative leaflets and website have been well-received.  We are currently working on a number of communications opportunities to enthuse and engage the electorate.

2.4 Public appointments

Auditor General Wales

The Royal Warrant confirming the appointment of Huw Vaughan Thomas as Auditor General for Wales with effect from 1 October has been received.  An announcement will be made in the London Gazette and the Western Mail as near as possible to 1 October.

The National Assembly for Wales Commissioner of Standards

A strong field of applications for the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner of Standards was received and shortlisting took place on 14 September.  Five candidates have been invited to attend interviews on 18 October.

3.0 Financial report

The year-to-date net spend to the end of August 2010 is £16.9 million, reflecting a 4.8 per cent under spend against the planned position.  The forecast for the financial year end reflects an additional call on the budget to fund the Early Departure Scheme (up to £0.5 million), to be met from existing funds.  This is putting some pressure on the budget and there is a risk that £0.250 million of the £0.334 million contingency might be needed to ensure we remain within the overall budget of £48.973 million for 2010-11.  We have achieved £0.176 million of staff savings for the period ending 31 August, towards the £0.250 million target set for the year, and we will continue to manage savings on staffing to reduce the risk of needing to access the contingency.

4.0 Other information

4.1 A list of information disclosed since the last report under the Freedom of Information Act is attached at Annex A.  The full disclosure can be provided to Commissioners on request.

ANNEX A

INFORMATION RELEASED FOLLOWING ACCESS TO INFORMATION REQUESTS

JULY-AUGUST 2010

  • Information relating to an Assembly Member’s support staff including, job titles, pay bands, and total expenses

  • The salary bands of senior Assembly staff

  • Information relating to the Facilities Management contract

INFORMATION WITHHELD FOLLOWING ACCESS TO INFORMATION REQUESTS

JULY-AUGUST 2010

  • Details of correspondence between an Assembly Member and Members’ Business Support

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