In 2014, as part of the GRO project, NERC commissioned Deloitte to advise on the future NERC Head Office centre relationship. Their report, which was accepted by Council in July 2014, articulated the separate roles of NERC and the research centres, and that the fulfilment of these roles required a long term ‘value-managed’ relationship.
NERC aims to focus on its role as a commissioner of research and innovation with research centres operating as providers. This requires a revision of internal management and governance arrangements to better reflect this distinction, regardless of whether centres become legally separate and independent in the future.
The revised structure meets the need to deliver management of NERC as a commissioner including its national capability requirements through three bodies:
- the NERC Management Board (NMB)
- the National Capability Partners’ Forum
- the NERC Assurance Board.
The proposals have been developed on the basis that the majority of corporate business (NERC as a commissioner) will be the responsibility of the NMB in the future.
The proposals were agreed by NERC Council in July 2016.
The NMB, within the strategic direction and guidance of Council has responsibility for advising, supporting and challenging the Executive Chair, Deputy Executive Chair and the NERC Executive team on planning and decision-making, for the successful implementation of the delivery plan and practical operational arrangements.
The NMB scope covers the following areas:
- directing the development and implementation of Council’s strategies (for example, NERC delivery plan), policies and decisions
- overall corporate management including planning and decision making, change management
- ensure an effective framework is in place for the identification and management of risks in accordance with NERC’s risk appetite, to ensure it reflects NERC’s overall risk profile and provide challenge on mitigating actions and identify new risks
- effective financial management
- capital decisions, planning and spend
- centre allocations (within an NC commissioning framework)
- resource decisions not taken elsewhere, for example by the Science Committee etc.
- developing and maintaining corporate information systems
- ensuring that NERC (within UKRI) is managed according to the required standards of accountability, regularity and propriety, achieving high standards of efficiency, effectiveness, and economy
- ensuring that decisions and recommendations are undertaken with the full consideration and management of health and safety in line with
- the UKRI health and safety policy
- NERC delivery plan and the NERC responsible business statement (including equality, diversity and inclusion)
- UKRI environmental sustainability
- forming collective views on research centre future strategies, informed by Board observer roles
- cross-centre issues with relevance to more than one centre.
Membership and ways of working
Membership of NMB will comprise of:
- NERC Deputy Executive Chair or Director, Corporate Affairs (Chair)
- NERC Executive Chair
- NERC Chief Operating Officer (COO)
- Director, Research and Skills
- Director, Strategic Partnerships
- Director, Major Programmes
- three NERC non-executive directors.
The NMB operates in the following ways:
- NMB meetings will be held every other month
- NMB meetings will be held physically at least twice a year
- individual centre directors will be invited as necessary
- when a collective discussion with centre directors is required, this will be built into the NMB agenda and the centre directors will be invited to attend the meeting accordingly
- a minimum of four members of the NMB and a minimum of one non-executive director will be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate
- NMB will invite a Board observer to attend each meeting as a development opportunity for relevant head office staff and for the purposes of openness and transparency of NERC governance
- conflicts of interest will be declared, according to NERC practice, although the nature of NMB business is unlikely to require members to leave the room
- NMB will formally report to the NERC Executive Chair and will provide reports to NERC Council as necessary
- NMB may ask any other officials of the organisations to attend to assist it with its discussions on any particular matter
- the NERC Centres Partners’ Forum will provide reports to NMB as requested. This report will be owned by the Strategic Partnerships Director
- the NMB will be subject to performance reviews and an effectiveness review on a regular basis
- the NMB will be supported by a secretariat.
Health and safety
NMB will have to consider how well NERC head office and owned research centres as a whole, are managing health and safety with the topic as a standing item on their agenda and will also receive the NERC health and safety annual report.
Strategic Relationship and Assurance Meetings (SRAMs) will have to provide information on their centre’s health and safety performance and provide the discussion, explanations, challenges that are reported to NMB by COO to allow it to form an opinion, discuss the matter and make decisions.
There will also need to be a feedback loop between the NMB and SRAMs on local or cross NERC health and safety matters.
The agenda and a summary of the meeting will be published on the NERC website.