Board of Scrutiny
Minutes: 16 October 2003
Present: Mantas Adomenas, Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth (chair), Nicholas Holmes, Elizabeth Leedham-Green, Saskia Murk-Jansen, Timothy Milner, David Phillipson, Jennifer Rigby, Roger Salmon, John Spencer, Helen Thompson.
None were received.
2. Minutes of the meeting of 2 October 2003
The Board approved the minutes after minor corrections.
3. Matters arising.
3.1 Freedom of Information Act
The Board considered a paper written for the Council and the General Board on the Act. The Board agreed that it needed to consider the implications of the Act for its own papers. The Chair and John Spencer agreed to give the Board advice at a future meeting on the precise reach of the Board's legal obligations.
Action: The Chair and John Spencer to prepare advice.
3.2 The Discussion of the Eight Report
The Chair reported on the Discussion for those who did not attend. The Board discussed the claim pressed at the Discussion that there was a statutory bar to consolidating the University's accounts.
Action: The Chair to ascertain whether there is a statutory bar to consolidating the University's accounts.
3.3 Administrative support
The Chair reported that David Howarth had drawn up a job specification, but that it was unclear whether the Registrary had given authority to proceed with an appointment.
Action: The Chair to write to the Registrary to clarify the situation.
3.4 Governance course
The Chair reported that he had e-mailed the leader of the governance course, Ian Hewes, and asked whether the Board of Scrutiny would be covered in the session and offered a speaker. The Chair had received no reply. John Spencer noted that he had also heard nothing when he had contacted Ian Hewes earlier in the year.
Action: The Chair to write to Peter Deer to pursue the matter.
The Board discussed the anticipated timing of the new proposals for the RAM. The Board agreed to ask the appropriate person in the Planning and Resource Division when the RAM report is published. The Board agreed that it would look carefully at a set of issues under the proposals: the future of HEFCE band (d) departments, the method by which buildings are costed, and central expenditure.
4. Programme for the year.
4.1 Research Services Division (RSD)
The Board agreed to pursue outstanding issues from last year about the performance of RSD.
Action: The Chair to write to David Secher and invite him to come to a meeting of the Board later in the term. Nick Holmes to prepare a brief for the Board on RSD issues for the meeting on 13 November.
4.2 Implementation of Shattock and Finkelstein recommendations.
The Board agreed to ask the Registrary in a meeting during the course of the term for an audit of the implementation of the Shattock and Finkelstein recommendations. The Board also agree to ask the Registrary for the follow-up report from the HEFCE audit.
Action: The Chair to write to the Registrary for the follow-up report from the HEFCE audit. The Chair to write to the Registrary and ask him for a meeting with some members of the Board at his convenience.
4.3 Legal advice to the University
The Board agreed to raise with the Registrary in a future meeting the issue of whether the University is receiving cost-effective and accurate legal advice.
Action: The Chair to write to the Registrary and ask him for a meeting with some members of the Board at his convenience.
4.4 Other issues
The Board agreed to pursue a range of issues over the year.
The University's finances and the RAM.
As well as continuing to pursue the concerns about RAM it identified in its Seventh and Eighth Reports, the Board agreed to pay particular attention this year to issues about the future of undergraduate education.
Governance: clarity of Council papers.
The Board continued its discussion about the opacity of some University papers. Roger Salmon offered to read through a term of Council papers and report back to the Board on their clarity.
Action: Timothy Milner to advise the Chair on a suitable term to scrutinise. The Chair to write to the Registrary and ask him for a set of papers for a particular term.
The Board agreed to enquire about the progress of CARET.
Action: Jennifer Rigby to pursue.
Response from the Council to the Board's previous reports
The Board agreed to update its records on outstanding recommendations from previous reports.
Action: The Chair to ask Susan Lintott for her records.
The University's sub-contracting and sourcing
The Board discussed the University's subcontracting of various services. It noted that there were sometimes tensions between the University's expectations and the interests of the contractors. The Board agreed to raise the issue in future meetings with the Director of Finance and the Registrary.
Personnel and Hera
The Board agreed to continue to monitor the progress of HERA and the introduction of a single pay spine.
Action: Stephen Cowley and Jennifer Rigby to pursue.
5. Any other business,
There was no other business.
6. Date of next meeting: 30 October 2003