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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2011 (Paper 6)
Management Board Report to the Commission

Date: 14 March 2011
Time: 17:00
Venue: Conference Room 4B
Author name and contact number: Claire Clancy, ext 8233

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.

This month’s Management Board report is being presented in a different format to concentrate mainly on updating the Commission and seek views on ongoing work prior to the dissolution of the Assembly on 1 April.

1.1 Vote 2011
A communications campaign to promote and widen engagement in devolution and the democratic process was launched in July 2010 to coincide with the National Assembly’s participation in a range of summer events.  The Vote 2011 programme was designed to make as many people as possible aware of the opportunities to make their voices heard this year – specifically through the Assembly elections on 5 May and the referendum on law-making powers in March.  This has included producing a range of eye-catching publications and marketing materials, videos, a lively media relations campaign, an online advertising campaign and a number of events, workshops and seminars on related topics.  The Assembly’s Outreach bus completed a tour of all 22 local authority areas before the 28 day moratorium period for the 3 March referendum.  Since the referendum, the tour has recommenced and the bus will have visited all 40 constituencies by dissolution.

1.2 Referendum
The Assembly Commission has a responsibility and statutory powers to promote public awareness of elections and the current or any pending system of devolved government in Wales.  We were represented on two joint working groups: the Referendum Project group, with representatives from the Wales Office, the Electoral Commission, the Welsh Government, the Cabinet Office and the Welsh Language Board; and the Referendum Communications Group.  We developed particular links with the Electoral Commission and worked together to share information and platforms.

The Assembly Commission also worked closely with the Electoral Commission to allow the Senedd to be used for the central count and announcement of the national result.  Within minutes of the final announcement, explanatory bi-lingual leaflets – Further powers, the referendum result explained – were available in the Senedd and the ‘Yes’ result, along with further information on what it meant, was displayed on the Assembly website.

1.3 Wales Governance Centre
At its November meeting, the Commission ratified its support in principle for the Wales Governance Centre to be accommodated in otherwise unoccupied office space in the Pierhead in return for a clearly defined programme of events.  Since then, we have met with the WGC to discuss in detail their accommodation needs and the office space which could be let to them, and how the partners of the St David’s Day Declaration will input into the development of an ambitious events programme directly linked to and feeding into the development of Assembly business.  We propose that the programme of events should be considered for the Commission’s approval at the earliest opportunity in the Fourth Assembly.

1.4 Assembly Business update
The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 received Royal Approval on 9 February and the Proposed Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure has been submitted for consideration at the March (16) meeting of the Privy Council.

Ann Jones AM’s proposed Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 2011 received agreement in the Assembly on 16 February and is expected to be submitted to the April (7) meeting of the Privy Council.

4 proposed Measures are currently in progress and all are scheduled to complete Stages 3 and 4 by the end of March and providing no representations are made about the legislative competence during the 4 week intimation period, will be submitted to the May (10) meeting of the Privy Council.

The report on the proposed (Health and Health Services) Legislative Competence Order 2011 was published on 4 February.  The next stage is for a draft Order to be considered in Plenary.  No date has yet been scheduled.

To date, a total of 16 Measures and 15 Orders have received Royal Approval in the third Assembly.

1.5 Commission budget 2010-11
The latest report covering the period to the end of February 2011 shows actual spend is 1 per cent less than the year to date forecast.  The year end outturn for 2010-11 is expected to be within 1 per cent of the Commission’s £46.227 million budget.  Project expenditure is still the main risk to achieving the year end position, but steps have been taken over the last few weeks to deliver the forecast 2010-11 position.  This action concentrates on balancing expenditure which will be delayed until 2011-12 by bringing forward spend from 2011-12.

1.6 Audit Committee - 17 February 2011
The Assembly Commission Audit Committee met on 17 February 2011.  The Chief Operating Officer gave a presentation to the Committee which outlined the progress and future work required on procurement and contract management, alongside the consideration of two Internal Audit Reports on this subject area.  The Committee supported the view that there was a need to integrate the procurement policy with contract management.  The Committee considered the two Internal Audit Reports; the report on the management of the Barcud Derwen Broadcasting contract; and a more general review of Contract Management within the organisation.

The Broadcasting Contract review found that the organisation acted swiftly to address the problem, by acting to terminate the contract and engage new suppliers before service was affected which was acknowledged by the Committee.  Other recommendations concerning the multidisciplinary nature of contract management; the need for robust risk and financial assessments; and ensuring that contract management was part of performance management objectives for staff were highlighted and agreed.  The second report emphasised the importance of a holistic approach to contract management.

The Committee welcomed the further action being taken by management, but stressed that it was essential that the Assembly Commission should now implement and embed real improvements.

1.7 ICT Strategy
The Assembly prides itself as a leader in the use of technology in parliamentary business and is keen to continue to demonstrate this leadership through increased engagement and innovation.  An ICT strategy Group has been formed to consider the options for the provision of ICT services when the Merlin contract comes to an end in 2014.  In the first instance the group will:

  1. define high level goals for future ICT provision and consider the risks;

  2. look at the options we have already defined and see if they are the right ones and if other might be added;

  3. consider the external advice we are gathering on issues like cost, capacity and the legal framework; and

  4. based on this, set a realistic timescale and process for the work that needs to be done and estimate the resources which will be needed to do it.

1.8 Bilingual Services update
At its meeting on 30 November the Commission agreed to consult on a Bilingual Services Measure and new Bilingual Services plan in early 2011. The vast majority of the work on the proposed Measure and plan has been completed. During this time, further consideration was given to the appropriateness of consulting on an issue of such high public interest during dissolution. This, coupled with the fact that we have no Assembly Members during dissolution - at whom the scheme and its proposed service provision  is directed –led us to reconsider the most appropriate course of action for this important piece of work. With this in mind, we recommend that the Commission delays the public consultation process until the beginning of the Fourth Assembly and that work on the Measure, supporting documents and the bilingual services plan continues in the meantime.

1.9 Pierhead Building Masonry and Terracotta Conservation Works
The Quadrennial Inspection of the Pierhead Building carried out in 2009 identified the need to carry out a detailed condition survey and conservation report of the exterior and interior façade of the building and to develop recommendations and a specification for a programme of repairs.  A specialist conservation contractor, Nimbus, was appointed to carry out these investigations and their report and recommendations were received in February 2010.  Whilst the report identified that the brick, terracotta and stone masonry to the Pierhead was in an overall good condition, a number of defects in relation to settlement of the structure and opening of joints has led to water ingress at various locations to all elevations of the building.  In addition to water ingress and dampness within the building, it was identified that if these faults were not rectified, there would be the potential for the external terracotta units to suffer from delamination as a result of soluble mineral salts forming crystals within the brickwork as the water dries and evaporates.  Continued saturation of the wall core could also cause adjacent terracotta units to be subject to movement, again exacerbating the problems of water ingress and brickwork deterioration.  The report identified a schedule of works to remedy the problems that should ideally be carried out between the months of March and September.  It was identified that the exterior works could be carried out in a phased manner over three years, with the first phase being to address the southern elevation which has the highest level of deterioration.  Once the exterior works are completed, the interior programme of works will be addressed.

Competitive tenders from specialist conservation contractors were invited in December 2010 with the intention of phase 1 commencing in April 2011.  The contract was awarded to St Blaise and it is anticipated that the works will commence in the next three to five weeks.  In the meantime, there have been instances of some sections of the front and southern façade falling from the building.  St Blaise has carried out a detailed inspection and has removed other loose sections.  They also recommended the installation of a covered walkway to the front door as well as heras fencing to provide an exclusion zone to ensure public safety until the works commence and scaffolding is installed.  St Blaise has advised that the recent loss of fabric and sudden deterioration of elements such as pointing and spalling of exposed surfaces is likely to have been accelerated due to the extreme weather conditions at the end of last year.

1.10 Preparations for the Fourth Assembly
The last few weeks of preparation have now begun.  We have recently issued a final information-seeking questionnaire which covers all the last pieces of information we need from Members and their staff, to make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as it can.  This is particularly important for IT and telephone arrangements.  The lead Group staff have been kept in touch with this and are helping to make sure that the information is returned to us by 18 March, in time to make sure that the arrangements are made.  Assembly staff will be chasing for completed questionnaires too.

It has been disappointing that despite very comprehensive dissolution guidance being published before Christmas, some Members have been surprised by the implications for them and their staff.  We are continuing to use every means of communication to explain the implications and the reasons for the actions taken, including discussions with the Member reference group, e-mails, publicity on the news page and visits to Group meetings as requested.

1.11 Art on the Assembly Estate
We have been contacted by the Welsh artist, Joseph Galvin who wishes to secure a commission for artwork.  His proposal is to paint the Assembly in session in order to provide a record of some of its life and history for the people of Wales.  The artist requires no fee for this work and wishes to donate the painting to the Assembly for display on the estate.

Commission staff have reviewed the artist’s work against the current criteria for displaying art on the estate and consider it could be an appropriate addition.  However, this cannot be confirmed until the painting is complete and have advised the artist of this.

A gallery of the artist’s work can be found at http://josephgalvinartist.wordpress.com/gallery-2/

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