Chapter 3: Governance, Accountability and Performance
Effective governance, strong accountability and resilient performance are at the heart of good public services and contribute to the achievement of National Outcome 16 - 'our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs'.
The SFRS must ensure that it meets the requirements of its governance and accountability arrangements and that it effectively monitors and evaluates its performance in delivering the strategic priorities set out in this Framework. A key factor in achieving that delivery will be continued investment in maintaining the health, safety and well-being and improving the capabilities, capacity and performance of its workforce.
Strategic Priority 9: Effective Governance and Performance
The SFRS should ensure it has an effective approach to performance management to support robust scrutiny of the Service at national and local levels. This approach should be regularly reviewed and evaluated in pursuit of continuous improvement. The SFRS should also collect, produce and analyse data and other intelligence to promote the safety and well-being of communities, support operational efficiency and performance improvements (including its partnership contributions) and enable effective public reporting of performance.
Good service performance and effective accountability, both nationally and locally, is reliant on the ability to demonstrate the delivery of continuous improvement through comprehensive, timely performance reporting arrangements and a robust approach to analysis and evaluation. The SFRS should continue to develop robust performance systems to enable it to report publicly on a regular basis. Reports should be open and transparent, and provide the Scottish Government and key stakeholders with accurate, timely and consistent data and information, from which they can assess whether the SFRS's management arrangements are effective in ensuring it is performing well, providing value for money and delivering across Scotland as a whole.
Performance management systems should play a critical role in driving improvement across the organisation. The SFRS should continue to develop methodologies and systems to collate and analyse data in order to understand future trends and enable resources to be targeted where they are needed most and where they can add the greatest value. The SFRS should ensure that it makes appropriate use of comparable data from other sources to identify improvement opportunities.
Good performance management arrangements will ensure that the SFRS will support the attainment of the National Outcomes as well as operational and corporate service improvements including improved efficiency and productivity. The SFRS should be clear which data and evidence is being drawn upon for these purposes and ensure that its reports contain appropriate outcome measures and performance indicators in relation to service delivery and quality, both locally and nationally.
The 2005 Act (as amended by the 2012 Act  ) sets out the duties of the SFRS in securing Best Value for the people of Scotland. The delivery of an effective and efficient service is set within the context of establishing appropriate governance structures by which the organisation is directed and controlled to achieve objectives. The SFRS 'Governance and Accountability Framework'  , sets out the governance structures within which the SFRS will operate and defines the key roles and responsibilities for the SFRS and the Scottish Government.
To respond effectively to the changing public sector environment in Scotland and to meet the expectations set out in this Framework the SFRS should maintain its strong commitment to strategic and financial planning to assure the long term sustainability of the functions it delivers. The SFRS should clearly communicate to internal and external stakeholders the outcomes it is working towards, what the intended objectives and goals of those outcomes are, and how its resources will be used to achieve those outcomes.
The SFRS's role as a public body
As a public body, there are expectations and requirements placed on the SFRS in a range of areas.
The SFRS Board will provide strategic leadership for the SFRS, which will include ensuring the highest standards of governance are complied with; that the SFRS complies with all Ministerial guidance, its Framework document and legislation; and that prudent and effective controls are in place to enable risks to be assessed and managed. The Chief Officer role is to provide operational leadership to the SFRS and ensure that the Board's aims and objectives are met and its objectives are delivered.
The SFRS's planning should ensure clear alignment of priorities and objectives while being flexible enough to respond to differing local needs across Scotland and the changing demands of its operating environment. The SFRS should ensure employees fully understand their contribution to objectives and know what is expected of them as part of its planning and operational delivery processes.
Strategic Priority 10: People
The SFRS should aim to be an employer of choice - maximising the effectiveness of its approach to workforce planning; promoting the safety, health and well-being of all staff; and being a learning organisation with opportunities for all. The SFRS should also seek to be an organisation that is more representative of the people and communities of Scotland that it serves.
The SFRS should aim to have in place an appropriate workforce structure as well as systems which will prepare its employees, through robust and tailored development programmes, to develop their capability to meet current and future needs. In order to do this, the SFRS must invest in its current workforce and plan for the type of workforce it will need in the future.
The SFRS must consider what skills its workforce may need to acquire or develop further in order to maximise their contribution to the Service's transformation and to meet the changing needs of local communities. The SFRS must ensure that the competence of the workforce to deliver core duties is maintained at the same time as developing skills to meet the changing requirements of the services it delivers, thus maximising its ability to contribute to improved outcomes for the communities and people of Scotland.
Succession plans should be developed in the context of SFRS's own Strategic Plan. The Service should harness appropriate executive support for designing and delivering its succession plans. The Service should set out what it will do, how it will do it and how it will monitor progress, recognising existing strengths and acknowledging the skills, experience and knowledge that it will require in the future.
As a learning organisation, the SFRS must identify opportunities for learning from its past actions, including operational incidents, and ensure that lessons learned become embedded in future behaviour. The SFRS should also work with other organisations to maximise learning and sharing of best practice, including joint multi-agency training for responding to a range of incidents.
The SFRS should continue to give the highest priority to the safety, health and well-being of its staff and those they serve and protect by encouraging a culture of health and well-being; and by providing and maintaining systems to support and enhance well-being and safety at work. The SFRS should ensure that it takes a collaborative approach on matters of staff safety, health and well-being, and that participation and involvement of employees and their representatives is undertaken when identifying, resolving and improving policy and related practice. This should ensure that workforce development, promoting health and well-being and harmonious industrial relations remain priorities.
Equalities and Human Rights
The SFRS must, in terms of its obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998  , act in accordance with the European Convention for Human Rights. The SFRS must also comply with the Equality Act 2010  and the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012  . Under the general duty within the Equality Act 2010 , the SFRS must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different groups. The regulations further specify the actions public bodies are expected to take in meeting this duty. The SFRS will ensure that its decision making and reporting demonstrates how equality issues are considered, including as an element of the SFRS's improvement processes.
The SFRS must ensure that equality issues have been mainstreamed across all functions of the Service. The SFRS must set, review and report on progress against equality outcomes designed to meet the aims of workforce diversity and mainstreaming of equality issues. Information on the profile of personnel across the protected characteristics must be monitored and reported on, together with other relevant information such as the gender pay gap and adherence to equal pay legislation. The SFRS should also continue to develop systems and processes that will ensure that the equality performance of suppliers is assessed through the procurement process. As part of its work to address equality issues, the SFRS should demonstrate progress on becoming a recognised Living Wage Employer and encourage the uptake of Modern Apprentices across the organisation in recognition of wider Scottish Government aspirations.
Building on the SFRS Equality and Diversity Charter, the SFRS should work towards achieving the Scottish Government's ambition of a fairer society with a more gender-balanced operational workforce. The SFRS should promote workforce diversity through inclusive recruitment and retention practices and initiatives, including those which support youth employment.
Gender balance issues should also be addressed in terms of senior management and Board roles. There is clear consensus that increasing diversity in the Boardroom and in senior leadership encourages new and innovative thinking, maximises use of talent and leads to better business decisions and governance. The Scottish Government encourages public, private and third sector organisations to sign up to the Partnership for Change  and to set a voluntary commitment for gender balance on its Boards of 50/50 by 2020.
Succession planning is critical to ensure that Boards have the skills and diversity of contribution they need to address future challenges and priorities. A key challenge for the SFRS is to identify its Board's skills and diversity requirements over the medium and long-term as part of its corporate planning process, and develop a strategy for meeting these. Aligning the profile of skills of the Board members with the Strategic Plan will ensure that the Board has the right skills to deal with planned business as the work of the Service evolves; and importantly how the Service plans to ensure that happens. This may be through establishing a Nominations Committee to drive the succession planning work, or through a range of initiatives including mentoring, outreach, and establishing diversity champions.
Community Empowerment and Community Planning
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015  ('the 2015 Act') promotes and encourages community empowerment and participation, by creating new rights for community bodies and placing new duties on public authorities. The SFRS is listed as one of the statutory partners under the 2015 Act.
The 2015 Act places specific duties on statutory partner bodies, including to:
- prepare and publish a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan which sets out the local outcomes prioritised for improvement;
- participate with each other in carrying out community planning;
- take account of Local Outcomes Improvement Plans when carrying out their own functions; and
- contribute such funds, staff and other resources as the Community Planning Partnership ( CPP) considers appropriate to improve local outcomes in the plan and to secure the participation of community bodies in community planning.
Community planning is a key driver for public service reform at local level. It brings together local public services and the communities they serve. It provides a focus for joint working, driven by strong shared leadership, directed towards distinctive local circumstances. Under the 2015 Act, partners in community planning have a shared leadership role which they should use to ensure that the CPP sets an ambitious vision for, and with, local communities. The CPP and its partners should understand how their collective resources are supporting shared local priorities and whether these are the right resources to enable the CPP to meet its improvement targets and take corrective action where necessary to meet the agreed local priorities. This focused joint working provides powerful potential to improve the lives of local people and address often deep-rooted causes of inequalities. It also generates potential to use preventative approaches to manage future demands on crisis intervention services.
Under the 2015 Act, each CPP is required to produce a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan which provides a shared and explicit plan for local communities in each CPP area. Each CPP should use its understanding of local needs, circumstances and opportunities to identify those areas within the area of the community planning partnership for which it will undertake locality planning. Locality planning identifies where communities experience significantly poorer outcomes than elsewhere in the area of the CPP or elsewhere in Scotland, so that as a partnership the CPP can act with, and for, the community to reduce inequalities.
The voices of communities themselves are integral to successful community planning. CPPs should provide such resources as they consider appropriate to secure the participation of community bodies in community planning. CPPs and partners should be able to demonstrate, including to local communities through annual progress reports, how they are working effectively in partnership to improve outcomes as part of how they are held to account.
The SFRS should view community planning as an opportunity to engage with a range of partners and pool collective resources in order to drive improvements in outcomes in which it has interests. These may be both shared and interdependent, and can contribute to the achievement of their own organisational objectives.
The new model for Community Justice
The Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016  provides the statutory basis for a new model for community justice in Scotland. The new model will come into effect from 1 April 2017 and places the responsibility for local strategic planning, monitoring and delivery of community justice outcomes with statutory community justice partners - including the SFRS.
The new model delivers a community solution to achieving improved outcomes for community justice; to preventing and reducing further offending; and to supporting desistance. The model therefore provides an opportunity for the SFRS to collaborate in the planning and delivery of improved community justice outcomes.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
This legislation is a key part of the Scottish Government's strategy for making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014  (the '2014 Act') places specific duties on the SFRS as a corporate parent to improve how the organisation supports looked after children and care leavers.
The SFRS is required under sections 59-61 of the 2014 Act to produce a plan and report on how it is exercising its corporate parenting duties, including its planning and collaborating functions.
Under section 44 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009  , public bodies are required to: carry out their activities and operations in ways which help contribute to the Scottish Government's headline emissions reduction targets; contribute to climate change adaptation; and act sustainably.
More recently, under section 46 of the Act, the Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2015  , listed the SFRS as a public body major player. This Order came into force on 23 November 2015 following public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny.
As a result, the SFRS is required to submit a report on compliance with the climate change duties annually. The first mandatory SFRS's report for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 must be submitted to Scottish Ministers by 30 November 2016, and each reporting year thereafter. Responsibility for enabling and reporting compliance with the climate change duties rests with the SFRS.
In this context, public bodies are expected to lead by example in combatting the impacts of climate change and contribute to Scotland's ambitious emission reduction targets. It is therefore important that responsibility for driving forward the SFRS climate change action is allocated to a senior Board member to deliver through specific objectives in the corporate business plan to effectively manage overall business performance and compliance with the climate change duties.
Digital technology is a key enabler of improved, user-centric public services. Building on our national digital public services strategy  , the Scottish Government is committed to increasing the pace of digital transformation of public services. Central to this is the development of a national digital ecosystem of shared infrastructure, services and standards, which will enable service improvements and operating efficiencies, allowing the public sector to focus itsresources on improving front-line services. The SFRS should consider the Scottish Government's national digital public service strategy when taking forward any digital transformation plans within the Service.
Email: Iain Harron, Iain.Harron@scot.gov