Department for the Economy Board minutes 2022 - 15 December 2022

Minutes from the Departmental Board meeting on 15 December 2022.


  • Mike Brennan (Chair)
  • David Malcolm
  • Heather Cousins
  • Shane Murphy
  • Paul Grocott
  • Sharon Hetherington
  • (Name redacted)
  • Alan Russell
  • Chris McConkey
  • Richard Rodgers
  • Fiona Keenan (Non-executive Board member)
  • Michael McKavanagh (Non-executive Board member)
  • Colm McKenna (Non-executive Board member)

In attendance:

  • Name redacted (Energy - observer)
  • Name redacted (CMB)
  • Name redacted (CMB)
  • Name redacted (CMB secretariat)
  • Lisa Morgan (for ODT)
  • Name redacted (for ODT)


  • None

Agenda item

Actions arising from discussion

Action owner and current position (to be completed prior to the next Board meeting)

Agenda Item 1:Board Register of Interests/ Conflicts

No new interests declared.


Agenda Item 2:Minutes of meeting 24th November

Agreed without amendment.


Agenda Item 3: Strategic Issues

A number of areas were discussed:


Government Project Delivery Awards

  • It was noted that the Civil Service Skills Academy won the Northern Ireland Region Advancing the Profession Award 2022 and the Board conveyed thanks to Michelle Bell and her teams for their work.


Executive Formation (EF) Act

  • The EF Act has now formally been passed.
  • Various discretions have been afforded to Accounting Officers along with a legal responsibility not to breach budget control total spend.
  • A public interest test must be carried out where ordinarily a decision would have been taken by a Minister and decisions taken will be recorded.
  • Due to the increased volume of correspondence, responses will either be from Permanent Secretary or Deputy Secretary level.


Invest NI Review

  • The review is nearing finalisation with a plan to publish on 11 January 2023.
  • A large scale transformation is needed.



Agenda Item 4: Finance Update

Sharon Hetherington presented:


  • 22/23 overcommitment of staff costs has reduced to £0.5m.
  • £1.5m has been surrendered for student support.
  • DoF 23/24 budget process expected to launch tomorrow with a zero based approach. Returns from departments 27 January 2023, DoF to consider in February and published in March.
  • Scenarios are being worked through.
  • The Board conveyed thanks to Sharon and her Finance Team for their work.



Agenda Item 5: Papers to Note

HR Update

  • More data about sick absence has been incorporated into monthly update. Meeting planned in January to explore what more can be provided.
  • Slight increase in declared vacancies.
  • G6/7 recruitment competitions paused until Q1 23/24 and AO competition extended until end of March 23.
  • Delivery of occupational health services was discussed.
  • A paper on declared and undeclared vacancies is being worked on.
  • Q2 DfE sick absence is average of 2.1 working days. Higher absence rate at AO discussed.
  • 173 new vacancies April to November 22. AP: A breakdown is to be provided.
  • 2/3 of recruitment is from within NICS. This has added to difficulty filling vacant posts.
  • Interviews for this cohort of the Civil Service Skills Academy conclude on 16 December. It is intended to run a further, expanded cohort in 2023 with administration to be undertaken by the Assured Skills team.


City Deals update

  • No questions.


Resourcing and People Committee update

  • No questions.


Commercial Capability Plan update

  • The completion rate for those with identified training needs has increased from 15.85% to 50.76%.


November 22 ARAC minutes

  • Meeting with C&AG in the New Year.



















(Name redacted)














Agenda Item 6: Organisational Delivery & Transformation Programme

Board members convened a Programme Board meeting for the rest of the available time.


Agenda Item 7: AOB

New Ways of Working

  • Frequency of attendance in the office and use of available workstations was discussed.
  • Adelaide House will be closed 28 and 29 December 2022 and Connect2 regional hubs can be used by anyone wishing to not work from home on those days.


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