Department for the Economy Board minutes 2022 - 27 January 2022

Minutes from the Departmental Board meeting on 27 January 2022.


  • Mike Brennan (Chair)
  • David Malcolm
  • Heather Cousins
  • Shane Murphy
  • Richard Rodgers                        
  • Sharon Hetherington
  • (name redacted)
  • Paul Grocott
  • Colin Woods
  • Colm McKenna (Non-Executive Board Member)
  • Fiona Keenan (Non-Executive Board Member)
  • Michael McKavanagh (Non-Executive Board Member)

In attendance:

  • (name redacted) (Permanent Secretary’s Office)
  • (name redacted) (Secretariat)
  • (name redacted) (Boardroom Apprentice)
  • (name redacted) (For ODT only)
  • (name redacted) (For ODT only)
  • (name redacted) (For Cyber Security only)
  • (name redacted) (For Board review only)
  • (name redacted) (Observer)

Apologies:  Michelle Bell



Agenda Item

Actions Arising From Discussion

Action Owner and Current Position (to be completed prior to the next Board Meeting)

Agenda Item 1:Declaration of Interests



Agenda Item 2:Minutes 20/12/21 Board Meeting

Agreed without amendment.


Agenda Item 3: Cyber Security Overview

(name redacted), Digital Shared Services gave an overview of cyber security. He discussed:

  • The cyber threat to the NICS.
  • Mitigation controls to reduce the likelihood of an attack.
  • Impact – limiting the severity of an attack.
  • Looking forward – future priorities.


Agenda Item 3:

Strategic Issues

There was discussion on a number of areas:-

  • Invest NI Review – keeping the Economy Committee informed.
  • Political situation prior to purdah.
  • Covid – risks, regulations and restrictions.


Agenda Item 4: Report on Review of DfE Board Effectiveness

(name redacted) from DfE Business Consultancy Service presented a summary of key findings and recommendations documented in the DfE Board effectiveness review draft report.

  • She discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • She discussed the Action Plan and its 9 recommendations.

The Board agreed the following highest priority actions.

  • There should be an annual event with the Chief Executives of all the ALBs and DfE Board.
  • The provision of a summary paper for the Board.
  • A Board ‘away’ day or two each January for risk and strategy development for the year ahead.
  • Holding some Board meetings during a year at stakeholder sites with Invest NI being the first. Also to later include meetings with 4 FE Colleges and HE Vice Chancellors.


Agenda Item 5: Budget 2022/23 – 2024/25

Sharon Hetherington presented regarding the 2022/23 – 2024/25 budget:


  • The draft budget is out for consultation. It has not been agreed by the Executive in advance of consultation.
  • The consultation closes mid-March, with purdah at end of March so the timescale for approval is short.
  • Work is being done within DfE regarding how to live within the budget.
  • A number of bids were submitted during the Budget 2022-25 process, the largest being for the 10x Economy.
  • The draft budget does not propose to meet inescapable DfE pressures or prioritise the economy.
  • There is a lack of EU replacement funding which has potential impacts on apprenticeships and Invest NI.
  • The capital settlement is problematic by Year 3.







Agenda Item 6: Questions on Papers to Note

  • HR Update. There will hopefully be an update next Board on the end to end review of recruitment paper. DfE absence rates have increased compared to last year but are comparable to pre covid. A breakdown of covid related absences is being worked on. AP: An analysis of stats for achieving IYR Performance Mgt deadlines by Group to be provided for February Board.
  • RHI Update. No questions.
  • Energy Strategy and Action Plan. No questions.
  • Covid Recovery Update. No questions
  • Economic Recovery Action Plan. No questions.
  • Quarterly Project Assurance Report. No questions.
  • ARAC minutes of 18/11/21. No questions. Signing off of the accounts was discussed.





(name redacted)

Agenda Item 7:
Organisational Delivery & Transformation Programme

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



Agenda Item 8:


Investment Strategy

  • This was published yesterday by FM/DFM who stated that 10x was an investment Strategy.

NICS Non Executive Directors’ Forum

  • This will next meet on Tuesday and opening remarks will be from Mike Brennan.


Date of Next Meeting – Thursday 24 February at 10.30am

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