Department for the Economy Board minutes 2023 - 28 September 2023

Minutes from the Departmental Board meeting on 28 September 2023.


  • Mike Brennan (Chair)
  • David Malcolm
  • Moira Doherty
  • Shane Murphy
  • Jimmy Graham (deputising for Richard Rodgers)
  • Alan Russell
  • Paul Grocott
  • Fiona Keenan (Non-Executive Board Member)
  • Michael McKavanagh (Non-Executive Board Member)

In Attendance:

  • (Name redacted) (CMB)
  •  (Name redacted) (Corporate Governance Secretariat)
  • (Name redacted) (Corporate Governance Secretariat)
  • Maeve Hamilton (Board Observer)
  • Lisa Morgan (for ODT)
  • (Name redacted) (Boardroom Apprentice)


Michelle Bell, Sharon Hetherington and Richard Rodgers. Marlene McIntyre now attends quarterly.

Agenda items

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: ODT agenda



Lisa Morgan presented: -

CIPD People Management Awards

  • DfE won the Best HR/L&D and OD Team in the UK award at the annual CIPD People Management Awards. The Board thanked the ODT Team for their work.

Programme Dashboard

  • First all-staff event held last week with some 350 attendees. Culture and collaboration were key themes. Included 2-way comms with HOCS and Leadership.
  • Learning & development hub and map well advanced and to be published end of October.
  • Short-term opportunities launched.
  • Leadership & development training rolled out to SO/DP, and AA and AO.
  • Meeting other Departments to assist with their own OD programmes.
  • CIPD NI awards in October, Academy shortlisted for Best Resourcing.
  • Stage 2 evaluation of Academy completed.
  • All Departments strongly support having another Academy. AP: Discussion needed with Catherine Shannon.
  • Workforce planning pilot pushed back to January.
  • Will present plans on what is deliverable to October Board.
  • Transition Plan is high level. 4 Key areas to focus on. FK raised concern around risk to embedding and sustaining work in absence of identified lead and with change of Perm Sec. McK indicated that there needed to be clear ownership of benefits.
  • DM indicated this is being considered. There will be a substantive discussion on transition plans in Nov/Dec.

Business Improvement Project

  • The plan is to bring this to a conclusion at the end of October.
  • Implementation of Sponsorship Review recommendations almost complete and Digital Transformation Lead appointed.
  • No longer a need for central resource.
  • NICSHR developing a business improvement guide across NICS.
  • We will design user friendly case studies.
  • Closure of the project will free up a G7.
  • EY will assist with the PPE.
  • The Board endorsed the proposed handover and agreed to Project closure.


















Lisa Morgan

Agenda Item 3: Minutes of the meeting of 31st August


Agreed without amendment.




Agenda Item 4: Strategic Issues

Mike Brennan presented: -

Windsor Framework

  • Timing of putting the Windsor Framework Regs & guidance in the public domain was discussed.
  • We need to consider the impact on DfE.

NIO Regs & Bill

  • Departments have been asked what urgent legislation they want added to the NIO Regs & Bill. DfE items for consideration include power to disperse loans and grants, widening scope of Utility Regulator re social impacts and addressing the RHI tariff issue.


  • DfE will come within our budget allocation.
  • Need to look at Further Education redundancy package and Energy projects.
  • Need to ensure there is no DfE underspend.
  • Additional pressure to Bloc because of the PSNI security breach.

Invest NI

  • Shortlisting for a now Chief Executive next week with interviews 11 October.


  • Timeline has slipped for commissioning of new gas turbines.
  • Contingency planning on growing and material risk. AP – Need to discuss possible media briefing and any escalation with Richard Rodgers.























Jimmy Graham

Agenda Item 5: Papers for Approval

Tourism Strategy – Ten Year Plan


Paul Grocott presented: -


  • The Strategy is still in draft. It provides the Board with a sense of direction of travel.
  • It shows how Tourism NI fits in with 10X and where change is needed.
  • Clearer communication from DfE is needed.
  • Tourism NI are very aligned with 10X though have felt excluded from it. They do a good job on inclusion and sustainability.
  • NISRA are starting to analyse data on tourism. Tourism funding in N.I has declined, with much more spend per capita in ROI. AP – high level funding benchmarking to be sought.
  • Draft Strategy goes to Tourism NI Board in October, stakeholder engagement after this. Tourism NI will require a business plan.
  • The Board noted and approved the draft Strategy.












Paul Grocott

Agenda Item 6: Papers for Discussion

City Deals

Paul Grocott presented: -

  • Good progress has been made across Belfast.
  • There has been a recurring theme of bureaucracy and thought is being given how to communicate differently.
  • ALBs have a role in investment decision making.
  • Quality of business cases is an issue.
  • Construction price inflation is a problem, and the impact was discussed.
  • Sustainability around climate and environment was discussed.
  • There are challenges for deal owners.





Agenda Item 7: Any Other Business

There was no other business.


 Date of Next Meeting – Thursday 26 October, Adelaide House, Belfast

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