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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2010 (Paper 9)
Management Board Report to the Commission

Date: 30 November 2010
Time:After Plenary
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

Media coverage was dominated by the Comprehensive Spending Review in the last quarter, its impact on Wales, including the impact on the future governance and budget of S4C.  There has also been coverage of the initial meetings of the independent Remuneration Board, with a positive interview with the Board’s chair, the Rt Hon George Reid, on the BBC’s Politics Show.

The media campaign to accompany the Vote 2011 outreach campaign has also started in earnest.  Initially the media team has been targeting the local media in those areas where the outreach bus is stopping as part of the 22-stop tour of Wales’s local authority areas.  There has been some excellent results including Denbighshire Free Press as well as a thought piece from the Presiding Officer in the Flintshire Chronicle.

There has been some excellent coverage of committee reports, in particular of the Equality of Opportunity Committee’s report into the accessibility of railway stations in Wales by finding a number of case studies and then targeting specific media organisations with those case studies.  This work has resulted not only in widespread coverage across traditional media platforms such as BBC Wales Today, ITV Wales Tonight, Good Evening Wales, and The Daily Post, but also the independent radio stations such as Heart FM , Red Dragon and Real Radio.  There has also been wide coverage in the local press such as The Pontypool Free Press.  Such coverage demonstrates that we can increase our reach when we provide specific media with the package they need, which is central to the media team’s media relations strategy.

(b)Outreach and International Relations

The past two months have seen a number of high profile visitors to the Assembly:

On 30 September the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP was welcomed to the Senedd by the Llywydd, the Chief Executive and Clerk and the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats on his first visit to the National Assembly for Wales.  The Assembly also welcomed European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso to the Senedd that evening.

On the same day, the Pierhead hosted an event for a discussion of the Lisbon Treaty.  At the event, which featured all four Welsh MEPs, the Llywydd gave a keynote speech on the National Assembly’s presence and influence in Europe through the work of our EEA Committee and the representation of the Assembly at CALRE conferences by the Deputy Presiding Officer.

In early October the Deputy Presiding Officer attended the 2010 Plenary assembly of the Conference of Regional Legislative Assemblies of Europe (CALRE), in Trento, Italy.

The Belgian Ambassador, His Excellency Johan Verbeke, visited the National Assembly and met with the Assembly’s International Team.  The Ambassador also gave evidence to the European and External Affairs Committee.

The Assembly welcomed the Queen of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Masenate Mohato Seeiso.

Veronica German AM and Alun Davies AM attended the 8th Canadian Parliamentary Seminar in Ottawa.  This annual seminar was aimed at new or recently elected politicians and focused on the theme of “Strengthening Democracy, the Role of Parliamentarians” in the context of challenges and solutions.

In November the Assembly welcomed a Russian delegation from the Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, in coordination with the Welsh Language Board.  The delegation was keen to learn more of the Welsh experience in the field of minority language protection and promotion and how we operate as a bilingual Assembly.

Events

54 Events have been held on the Assembly Estate since the beginning of term welcoming over 4000 people to the estate to engage with the Assembly and its Members through a variety of events.

Highlights include:

The Pierhead hosted the ‘National and Local Scrutiny Event’ – a joint conference between the National Assembly for Wales, the Bevan Foundation, and the WCVA to look at national and local scrutiny.

The Welsh Government launched their Major Events Strategy, providing an opportunity to showcase the Senedd as an iconic Welsh building.

Cybermen welcomed attendees of The Guardian and Observer Travel awards to the Senedd in October.  This was the first time these prestigious awards had been held in Wales and the events team used the opportunity to showcase the Senedd at its best and introduce a new and diverse audience to the seat of Welsh democracy.

Cardiff Design Festival made use of the exhibition areas in the Pierhead in October.  Five separate events were held on the estate, each celebrating and promoting the design sector in Wales.  The festival showcased the work of graphic, furniture, interior and new media designers and aimed to inform the public of their work.

On World Mental Health Day Hafal hosted an event at the Assembly to promote greater public awareness and understanding of mental health and mental illness.

October was also Black History Month and the Assembly welcomed an exhibition by the Black Voluntary Sector Network Wales to highlight their key issues

Community Pharmacy Day saw the Senedd transformed as campaigners engaged with politicians and raised awareness of their campaign by piling 120 empty yellow pharmaceutical bins in the Neuadd.  The aim of the event was to highlight the amount of waste that is happening daily in the industry.  This is an example of how the Assembly events team can help advise on the creative ways organisations can highlight their issues and concerns with the Assembly and its Members.

In November the Assembly hosted its first gala dinner at the Pierhead since its re-opening in March.  The RSPCA Freedom Food Gala dinner was an opportunity to work closely with Charlton House in transforming the Pierhead Main Hall into a fitting venue for such an event.  This further increases the range of events the Assembly can provide on the estate for groups and organisations to engage with Assembly Members.

Outreach

As part of the Vote 2011 campaign, the Outreach Bus has visited several towns and centres across North Wales, and will be touring in Mid and South Wales in December and January.  The public and the regional press have been very positive about the Assembly’s visibility across Wales and the efforts to encourage the people of Wales to use their votes in 2011.

Additionally, the outreach team have visited university and college Fresher’s Fairs all across Wales to engage with all students, particularly those who will be voting for the first time.

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

(a)Assembly Business Update

Legislative programme

Since the last report to Commission, the Proposed Safety on Learner Transport (Wales) Measure has begun the scrutiny process and we are expecting the Proposed Housing (Wales) Measure to be introduced shortly.

Four proposed Measures are currently in progress including the Proposed Welsh Language (Wales) Measure which began Stage 3 on 22 October.

To date, a total of 12 Measures and 15 Orders have received Royal Approval in the Third Assembly.  Another three, the Proposed Waste (Wales) Measure, the Mental Health (Wales) Measure and Dai Lloyd’s proposed Playing Fields (Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions) (Wales) Measure have been passed by the Assembly and will be presented the Privy Council on 15 December.  If they receive Royal Approval, it will bring the total number of Measures approved to 15.

(b)Business Change Programme

A critical review of all projects, conducted by the Programme Manager, Craig Stephenson and the Head of Internal Audit, Lynne Flux, took place in October.  The outcomes of this review are being used by the Change Programme Board to inform decisions about future investment in projects.  We continue to concentrate on raising the project management capability within the organisation and around 40 people have been on our new in-house project management training course.

(c)UNO Update

The UNO project is now in its final stages, with a small number of issues still to be resolved, lessons learned to be captured and the project closure reports to be completed.  The budget for the project has been very tightly managed and the outturn is expected to be within the budget presented to the Commission and the Finance committee (c.£4.3m).

The rollout programme was completed on schedule.  The upgrade was rolled out to Assembly staff in three rollout tranches during August.  Assembly Member and support staff rollout took place between 13 September and 20 October.  Rollout for Members and support staff was conducted on an office-by-office basis, which meant that the Member and all their support staff, regardless of location, were rolled out at the same time.  This was particularly challenging given that the project team had to visit and provide basic training to users in over 70 locations across Wales in just under six weeks.

A number of issues have affected the service provided to Members.  The project board are aware of them and are working on resolving them in the quickest, yet most cost effective way.  The project team are working on resolutions based on the following priority basis:

  • the issue affects how Assembly Members work;

  • the issue affects public interaction with the Assembly;

  • the issue prevents staff users from doing their job;

  • the issue impacts upon a large number of users.

All old PCs and laptops from Assembly Members and support staff have been collected and stored in locked, secure areas, with access limited to ICT staff and Siemens engineers.  Equipment was kept for a minimum of six weeks in case any data held on the machines was required and needed to be recovered by Siemens engineers.  The equipment that is compatible with the new IT system will be rebuilt and reused as stock.  Older machines that are not compatible with the new GF domain will be sent to Remploy, who will securely wipe all data off the hard disks.  If the machine is in good condition, it will be refurbished and resold (with the Assembly receiving a rebate).  If the machine is not deemed fit for resale, the components will be stripped and the parts recycled.  Remploy have assured us that no parts will be sent to landfill.  We hope that with the rebate from used PCs and laptops that the whole disposal process will be cost neutral to the Assembly.

1.3 Strategic Goal – Respect, probity and good governance

(a)Audit Committee – 4 November

The Assembly Commission Audit Committee met on 4 November.  The Committee considered the Wales Audit Office Management Letter for 2009–10 and noted that it did not raise any issues of major concern.  All of the matters raised have been addressed or are being pursued by the finance team.  The Wales Audit Office submitted their proposed approach for the testing of Members allowances in 2010–11, which was agreed by the Committee.  The proposal fulfils a recommendation made by the Independent Review Panel and ensures that all Assembly Members will have been subject to audit by the 2011 election.  The Committee was provided with an update on the draft budget for 2011–12 and the Members’ Pension fund.

As part of the programme of risk reviews, the Committee considered in detail the key risks to the achievement of Strategic Goal 5  - “we will ensure that the Assembly has the best service, provided in the most effective way”.

(b)Finance Committee – 8 November

On 8 November, the Presiding Officer, Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer appeared before the Finance Committee for the scrutiny of the Commission’s draft 2011-12 budget.  The Committee’s formal report is due on 29 November.  Following the meeting, the Committee requested further information on UNO, shared service efficiencies and the impact of Early Departure Scheme on staff morale as well as an explanation of how the Commission had determined the level of expenditure committed to each strategic goal and how the Commission monitored delivery of each objective.

A response was sent to the Finance Committee on 16 November and officials are now working to deliver a final budget document and motion for agreement on 8 December 2010.

(c)Remuneration Board

The Remuneration Board held its third meeting on 11 November at which it considered the recommendations of the Independent Review Panel; Assembly Members’ salaries; and issues surrounding strategic capacity in the Assembly.  The Board took a number of decisions on recommendations of the Independent Review Panel and decided that Assembly Members’ base salary should be fixed for the four years of the next Assembly.

The Board will hold its next formal meeting on 10 December.  Members of the Board will meet informally with office holders and Assembly Members’ support staff on 8 and 9 December.  The Board will also host a colloquium on 9 December on strategic purpose and resources in the Assembly in the Pierhead, which will include representation from Assembly Members from all parties.

(d)Stonewall conferences

Craig Stephenson, the chair of OUT-NAW, which is the Assembly’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) staff network, was invited to speak at Stonewall Cymru’s first national conference in October.  He was asked to speak about the importance of LGBT role models within organisations and the impact this has had within the Assembly since 2007.  Following a successful conference, he was asked to speak at the launch of Stonewall’s “Starting Out” recruitment guide to an audience of students and employers early in November.  Both events provided an opportunity to demonstrate the good practice in place across the Assembly and to promote the Vote 2011 theme and the importance of making sure that everyone’s voice is heard.

1.4 Strategic Goal – Working sustainably

(a)Sustainable Facilities Management Awards 2010

In October, the Assembly was named as the most sustainable public sector organisation at government level in the UK by the Sustainable Facilities Management Awards 2010.

The award recognises our on-going commitment to reducing our carbon footprint through cost effective improvements, innovation, communication and environmental management and further supports the benefits realised from the innovative programme of initiatives outlined in the Assembly’s Carbon Management Plan together with our strategic commitment to work sustainably.

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

(a)Nursery Update

Darling Buds have completed the work to extend and adapt the nursery, have gained CSIW accreditation and have recruited a qualified Welsh teacher to provide bilingual nursery services.  Accordingly, the facility is now fully operational and a newspage item was posted on 2 November to advise all building users about the available facilities and how to access them.

(b)Catering

Staff and Members were surveyed during September about the use of Freedom Foods as part of the catering services.  Nearly two hundred responses were received with a majority of 81 per cent voting in favour of using Freedom Foods.  Accordingly, from 17 November all whole and ingredients eggs sold as well as salmon products will be Freedom Food accredited.  Other products such as chicken, pork and beef will be provided as soon as they become available through suppliers.  The RSPCA has congratulated the Assembly, saying that the Assembly is “the first national institution in the UK to choose animal welfare friendly food, and Assembly Members and their staff are to be applauded”.

As part of the requirement to review catering services and costs in line with reducing budgets, a brunch service was trialled during the October recess.  All users were encouraged to provide feedback via a survey link on the newspage and over 90 responses were received.  The survey feedback and comparative sales with previous recesses are being analysed and detailed feedback will be provided on the newspage when this work is complete.

(c)Car Parking

Car parking charges have now been finalised and will come into effect at the beginning of January 2011.  We are currently preparing guidance in order to ensure that staff who wish to use the car parks can gain entry on or after this date.  Full details on how and when to register for the new car park passes will be published on the intranet.

2.0 Key Activities and Events

2.1 Staffing update

The voluntary departure scheme for Assembly staff agreed by the Commission in order to accelerate recurring savings as part of our budget reduction strategy closed on 13 August.

The process resulted in 34 firm applications, 25 of which were approved.  In addition to the cost, business continuity and loss of skill set were key considerations when assessing applications.  Twenty staff left the Assembly on 22 October, and the remaining five will leave by 10 December.  We anticipate that four of these posts will need to be filled internally (one of these at a lower grade than was previously the case).  We are also working to re-organise the Security service to deliver a more flexible provision with the lower number of staff that are now employed there.

The one-off net additional cost of £0.6m (£0.9m gross) in 2010-11 will generate savings of up to £2.8m over the next four years.

In order to accommodate the reduction in staff while ensuring service levels are maintained, Heads of Services are working with their teams to identify efficiencies and to ensure resources are focused on priority areas.  Proposals for further improving staffing flexibility are well advanced and are currently being discussed by Management Board and with Trade Union Representatives.  By developing even greater staffing flexibility the aim is to enhance our ability to facilitate the movement of staff to priority areas either permanently or temporarily while offering staff greater opportunity to develop their sills and use transferable skills.

2.2 Public appointments

The National Assembly for Wales Commissioner of Standards

On 17 November the Assembly resolved to appoint Gerard Elias QC as its first independent statutory Commissioner for Standards.  The appointment takes effect on 1 December.  This brings to a successful conclusion a process that began with the recommendation of Professor Diana Woodhouse in 2002 that such an office be created, a proposal which only became practical to implement after the Government of Wales Act 2006 came into force.  Particularly noteworthy features of the process are:

  • successful implementation of a long-standing objective through the vehicle of the first Assembly Measure proposed by a Committee – in this case the Committee on Standards of Conduct; and

  • a rigorous and transparent appointment process which involved: objective selection of the preferred candidate by a panel which included the Chair of the relevant committee; a public confirmation hearing by that committee resulting in the committee’s unanimous decision to recommend that the Assembly should make the appointment; and formal appointment by the Assembly in Plenary.

Currently the public appointments made by, or on the recommendation of, the Assembly are limited to the Ombudsman, the Auditor General and the Commissioner for Standards but the process described above demonstrates that the Assembly has a procedure for making such appointments that is second to none and that the Assembly could, in future, confidently take on the function of making further public appointments if legislation so requires.

2.3 Dissolution and the Fourth Assembly Programme

The pre-election dissolution period is likely to start at midnight on Friday 1 April 2011.  Because Easter is late next year, this largely coincides with what would have been the Easter Recess, adding a week onto the start of the normal recess period.

All Members have been advised of the Commission’s decisions on dissolution and Fourth Assembly planning.  Up to date information about these issues can be accessed on the intranet at http://aps/presidingoffic/corporate/Supporting%20Excellence/The%20Change%20Prog/4AP/AMs/4AP_Newspage_2010.htm.

The Members nominated by Party Leaders continue to be contacted by Assembly staff for feedback on guidance and practical details for the election period and the Fourth Assembly.  With the support and approval of Members, discussions about matters affecting support staff are also taking place with Members’ staff and their representatives.  These include such matters as the introduction of a standard contract of employment and a handbook for Members’ support staff, and arise from the recommendations of the “Getting it Right for Wales” Report.  Assembly staff are working closely with the Remuneration Board to identify any overlap between their areas of work and to avoid duplication.

3.0 Financial report

The latest report covering the period to the end of September 2010 shows actual spend is 4 per cent less than year to date forecast with project expenditure the main contributor to the underspend.  The year-end forecast is within the 2 per cent tolerance.  The impact of the extended rollout for UNO has meant that IT-dependent projects are now concentrated in the latter five months of the year.  This carries an increasing risk that project expenditure could be pushed into 2011-12.  The risk is being closely monitored by the Change Board who have agreed specific mitigating actions including bringing forward spend from 20011-12 where possible.

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

September-November 2010

  • Details relating to the Assembly’s procurement card

  • Information about Ty Hywel pass holders

  • Costs relating to the Assembly’s Outreach Bus

  • Details relating to the Management Board, residential location at time of appointment

  • Numbers of staff in service areas

  • Structure charts for Finance and ICT service areas

  • Commission papers relating to the Record of Proceedings

  • Details of Assembly Members who have drawn less than their full basic salary entitlement

  • Schedule of staff costs and expenditure per service area

  • Information relating to procurement card usage

  • Details of LA area where properties for which Members claim ACA are sited

INFORMATION WITHHELD FOLLOWING ACCESS TO INFORMATION REQUESTS

September-November 2010

  • Information relating to Assembly Members Pension Scheme, information deemed as not held by the Assembly

  • Legal advice relating to the ‘Access to Inland Water’ report

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