Governance: Accountability, Transparency & Compliance
ARB has a responsibility to members of the public, architects and Parliament to be transparent and accountable in its business operations.
ARB’s Registrar and Chief Executive, Karen Holmes, is also the ARB’s designated Accounting Officer. Her responsibilities can be found in our Framework Agreement which is on our website. The Financial Statements section of this report, which has been signed off by our auditors, contains a governance statement from Karen.
As Accounting Officer, in addition to being responsible for the day to day management of the office and ensuring that her responsibilities under the Act are delivered, Karen is also responsible for the safeguarding and handling of public funds. These responsibilities are set out in the Framework Agreement for ARB which defines the roles of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and ARB and how we will work together.
We have robust and transparent reporting mechanisms in place to ensure accountability at all levels within the organisation. In addition, Accounting Officers are required to meet with representatives of their sponsoring Government Department on an annual basis to demonstrate that they are fulfilling their duties appropriately and to discuss any changes to the Government’s expectations. All duties were successfully achieved in 2017.
The Board is responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation and agrees an annual business plan. Board members undergo annual appraisals, where performance objectives are set each year. Members of the public can attend open sessions of our Board meetings. The details of these open sessions, along with their minutes and papers, can be found on our website. The majority of the Board’s business is undertaken in open session, however, there are occasions where the Board is obliged to discuss matters in private. The policy setting out what must be considered in confidential session can be found on our website.
Executive and Staff Team Accountability
The executive and staff are held to account by the Board’s monitoring of the delivery of the annual business plan. The staff team are committed to providing information which is timely, accessible and appropriate. Five Board meetings take place throughout the year, attended by ARB’s Operational Management Team and provide Board members with the opportunity to discuss and challenge the delivery of the Board’s objectives. Throughout 2017, the Board received a series of written and verbal reports detailing the progress made against the business plan which can be found on our website.
Transparency is a core value for ARB. We aim to be transparent in our actions wherever possible and make appropriate information accessible to others. An example of how we improved our transparency in 2017 is the restructuring and relaunching our website to provide clearer and more relevant information to our audiences.
As part of our commitment to ensuring we are delivering our responsibilities, we undertake a series of internal reviews which look at our compliance with the Board’s General Rules, the Framework Agreement, Committee terms of reference and the Act. The reviews are intended to highlight any gaps in terms of our delivery and where we can make improvements. The details and outcomes of these reviews are provided to the Audit Committee which discusses and challenges each. To date these reviews have confirmed that we are delivering our responsibilities but have usefully identified areas where we can improve further.