SAAS Annual Report and Accounts 2013-2014 - page 27

Scope of responsibility
As Accountable Officer, I have responsibility for maintaining a sound system of internal control. This
system supports the achievement of my Agency’s aims and objectives as agreed by Scottish Ministers,
whilst safeguarding the public funds and assets for which I am personally responsible, in accordance with
the responsibilities assigned to me.
I am accountable for the proper, efficient use of resources provided to my Agency and for the provision of
administration and debt recovery services for nursing & midwifery students and those receiving health
bursaries. I am also responsible for ensuring that the relevant guidance and requirements of advice issued
by Scottish Government Finance Directorate are met and for putting into effect any recommendations
accepted by Ministers or the Scottish Parliament. The Chief Executive’s accountability is subject to the
respective overall responsibilities of the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government as the Principal
Accountable Officer, the Director-General Learning & Justice and the Director-General Health & Social
Care as Accountable Officers.
Corporate governance framework
As Accountable Officer I ensure organisational compliance with the Scottish Public Finance Manual
(SPFM). The SPFM is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance to the Scottish Government and
other relevant bodies on the proper handling and reporting of public funds. It emphasises the need for
efficiency, effectiveness and economy, and promotes good practice and high standards of propriety.
Strategic Board
Following the Independent Review of the Agency, published in May 2013, a new Strategic Board of SAAS
has been created bringing together my Non-Executive Board Members with senior Civil Servants from
across the Scottish Government with a policy interest in the service delivery. This Strategic Board is chaired
independently by a Non-Executive Board Member and includes the Agency’s ‘Fraser Figure’, the Scottish
Government’s Director of Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning, as a member.
The Strategic Board approves the budget allocation to the Agency; sets and monitors the performance
targets; and ensures that the Agency is informed and prepared for potential policy changes to student
support funding. The Strategic Board will meet quarterly and met twice during 2013-14.
The President of the NUS (National Union of Students) Scotland attends both Strategic and Management
Board providing customer representation at both meetings.
Management Board
I remain supported in the operation of the Agency to the standards set by the Strategic Board by a
Management Board. This comprises a number of Non-Executive Board Members and internal senior
managers. Its principal functions are to provide leadership, direction, support and guidance to the Agency,
monitor performance against our agreed objectives and targets and to promote commitment to proper
standards of corporate governance.
During 2013-14 the Management Board increased the frequency of its meetings and now generally
meets monthly with the exception of months where Strategic Board meet. During 2013-14 the
Management Board met 8 times and meetings are open to staff observers.
The Board will carry out a formal assessment of its effectiveness during 2014-15 which will take into
account the views of additional Non-Executive Board Members appointed to strengthen the Board.
The Audit Committee
The Board is supported by the Audit Committee which currently consists of all the Non-Executive Board
Members (NEBMs), one of whom is also Chair, and a public sector Director of Finance as an additional
independent member. The Committee is responsible for overseeing and reviewing the risk, control and
governance processes in operation throughout the Agency. It also receives reports on any fraudulent
activity and considers our exposure and responses. It met 4 times during the year. I attended the
meetings as Accountable Officer along with the Head of Finance, relevant members of the Senior
Management Team and the internal and external auditors.
The Audit Committee carried out an assessment of its effectiveness and arrangements and will report its
findings, formally, in 2014-15.
Governance Statement
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