Public Scrutiny Boards

The Trust Challenge

How businesses operate is changing?

It is now recognised that how a business operates in terms of transparency, accountability and involvement matters when building public and client trust. This is further reinforced when the business is responsible for providing public services, or citizens perceive public money to be at risk.

Being open to scrutiny and giving others the tools to oversee and challenge aspects of how your business operates is an essential part of building trust. Scrutiny contributes to this by adding and driving value in the form of:

  • Transparency – Acquiring unfiltered feedback on the actions and behaviours of the business and demonstrating your openness to the public and clients. 
  • Assurance – Directors, shareholders and stakeholders know that business activities are ethical and responsible and where to take action if they are not.
  • Feedback – Valuable insight to help shape policy, strategy and behaviours.
  • Reputation – Representational and competitive advantage by leading the way in transparent governance.
  • Relationships – Demonstrates commitment to the communities in which your business operates and that you care about what they think.

Effective scrutiny goes beyond systems and processes. It has the potential to create an environment of positive, mutual challenge providing insight, driving value and helping manage risk.

What is a Public Scrutiny Board?

It is an arms-length board which forms part of your company’s governance structure. The model is adaptable and can be designed to fit your business structure and need.

It is the place for objective enquiry and scrutiny and its focus is designed to suit your needs. This could include corporate social responsibility activities, the development of new policies or delivery of projects.

Membership of the Board is designed to meet your business need and could range from national experts to local community representatives.

CfPS provides assurance of the Board’s independence, supports the Board and its members in their scrutiny activities and can assist in any public reporting.

What would be involved in setting up a Public Scrutiny Board?

In summary, our approach would be:

  • Set-up – We would work with you to agree the purpose, scope, draft terms of reference, performance measures and timeline. Also, to agree board member profiles in terms of sectors, interests, capability. This will inform our approach to recruitment.
  • Implementation – CfPS will act as the liaison between organisation and the Public Scrutiny Board, tasks depend on your needs and resources but could include agenda content preparation, providing secretariat support, facilitation at the meetings, supporting individual members with training and guidance.
  • Impact – We would work with business colleagues to create an effective feedback loop and evidence of impact. The board needs to work as part of the organisation and support can be provided to help embed this new way of working internally.
  • Assurance – CfPS would provide external independent assurance and validation of the organisation’s approach. We would support communication activity to raise the profile of the independent scrutiny and outcomes.

Why work with the Centre for Public Scrutiny?

The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) is the national centre of expertise on governance and scrutiny. We are an independent charity and have a strong reputation as a value-driven organisation.  We have a wealth of experience in both the public and private sector through our research, consultancy and training support.

CfPS is Chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake and its Chief Executive is Jacqui McKinlay. The Board, team and network of partners and associates have a wealth of practical and political expertise and experience in all aspects of governance and scrutiny.

Next steps

To find out more or discuss how the Public Scrutiny Board model could be developed to fit your business contact: Jacqui McKinlay, Chief Executive of CfPS on Jacqui.mckinlay@cfps.org.uk or via 07716 409562.