Role of the Board
The Ombudsman has chosen to appoint executives and non-executives to a unitary, decision-making Board to provide robust governance and assure Parliament of the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation.
The core purpose of the Ombudsman's Board is to lead, provide stewardship, and to preserve and build the organisation's reputation.
The Board’s leadership role is to:
- set the vision, mission and strategy
- constantly shape and reshape the mission and strategy to achieve the vision
- monitor business plans, budgets and key policies
- scan the horizon and focus on the needs of customers and stakeholders (complainants, citizens, Parliament, bodies in jurisdiction)
- to be visible exemplars of PHSO values.
The Board’s stewardship role is to:
- scrutinise and challenge the thinking and decisions of the Executive so that performance, quality and fitness for purpose of the organisation are well-managed and strategically aligned
- make the critical strategic decisions in relation to performance, quality and fitness for purpose
- support the Ombudsman in carrying out his legal duties.
The Board will also preserve and build the Ombudsman's reputation to retain and grow the confidence of internal and external stakeholders.
Focus of the Board
To deliver its role, the Board will focus on:
- strategy and planning
- development of the organisation to deliver its strategic aims and achieve its vision
- Ombudsman performance
- risk and assurance
The Board will not make individual casework decisions.
Matters reserved for the Board include:
- vision, mission, strategy and key policies
- annual business plan and budget
- annual report and accounts
- external expenditure over £100k.
Principles of good governance
Members of the Board have collective responsibility for decisions made by the Board and any public statement arising from these decisions.
The Board will debate issues based on appropriate, accurate and timely information and advice. It will seek to achieve consensus on major decisions. Where this is not possible, collective decisions will be based on a majority with the Chair holding the casting vote.
The Ombudsman is accountable to Parliament through the Public Administration Select Committee. To reflect his statutory accountability the Ombudsman has the right to disagree with the Board’s decisions but will do so as a last resort and put his reasons in writing to the Board.
The Managing Director is accountable to the Ombudsman and the Board.
The Leadership Team members are accountable to the Managing Director either directly or via their line manager.
Membership of the Board
The membership of the Board consists of both executive and non-executive members, with non-executive members in the majority. Total members will not exceed 11.
The balance of skills represented at Board level will be reviewed annually by the Board to ensure the skills relevant to the PHSO are represented.
Other staff may be required to attend meetings for specific agenda items.
Responsibility of Board members
The Board members have a specific responsibility to act if they believe that the Ombudsman is acting illegally or in violation of his duties and responsibilities. This responsibility is intended to provide an explicit and transparent assurance to Parliament and the public that the high standards of the Office will be protected.
Core skills and expertise expected from Board members:
- strategic thinking
- judgement – flexibility, sequencing, priorities
- stewardship and governance – including public section propriety
- use of evidence in decision making
- expertise and experience on service delivery: quality including customer experience, throughput and decisions.
These core skills are to be reflected across the Board members but no one Board member is required to have all the core skills or expertise.