17 Apr 2020

Good Governance in Challenging Times

The NI Public Sector Chairs’ Forum and the Chief Executives’ Forum have joined forces to convene this digital discussion on public accountability and governance, hosted by governance expert, Steve Mungavin.

This pandemic provides an unprecedented challenge for those charged with governing our public services. Significant decisions on the prioritisation of public expenditure are required at pace and in the context of significant changes in the control environment from politicians, chairs, board members, chief executives and senior staff as well as regulators, auditors and inspectors.

Our twin priorities are ensuring compliance with government guidelines and advice that addresses the pandemic as well as providing public services as best we can, adapting to the environment in which we have to operate.

In this context, we need to understand the impact of this crisis on governing our public bodies – adjusting strategy; managing risks; our duty of care to our people; taking decisions and ensuring strong public accountability; engaging with our various stakeholders, and learning lessons we can apply to transformation for the future. We need to ensure clarity on our various governance roles and responsibilities; strengthen relationships; adapt our governance arrangements with the help of technology; and to build public confidence in what we do. For those charged with ensuring strong governance during this crisis, there are lessons to learn in how these can be done effectively.

This digital discussion , which includes input from the Comptroller & Auditor General and a number of Chairs and Chief Executives will aim to provide an opportunity for sharing, mutual support an a focus on good practice at this time. The key issues we seek to consider include:

  • Prioritising the business of the Board
  • Running effective boardroom meetings
  • Taking and recording decisions during a crisis
  • Staying focused on roles and responsibilities
  • Highlighting opportunities for improvements and managing risks
  • Engaging with stakeholders and ensuring effective communication
  • Auditing and inspection approaches

We anticipate this seminar will be the first in a series during the course of this emergency.  We hope these virtual events will respond to members’ needs in addressing some of your key concerns around maintaining good governance whilst simultaneously providing a peer support network, enabling members to compare approaches and share experiences of dealing with similar challenges.