These arrangements provide assurance to the two AGO ministers, and to senior officials, that these departments are being well run, and in particular that the way they spend public money is proper and effective.
The Attorney General and Solicitor General (the Law Officers) have overall responsibility for the work of:
- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI)
- The Government Legal Department (GLD)
- The Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
Together with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), these departments are known as the Law Officers’ Departments (LODs). The superintendence relationship between the Attorney General and the directors of the two prosecuting departments (CPS and SFO) is set out in detail in the Protocol between the Attorney General and the Prosecuting Departments. This note supplements that protocol.
Mechanisms of formal governance
This note summarises the main mechanisms of formal Governance within the LODs. These are supplemented by a range of less formal meetings and contacts at various levels within the LODs.
Broadly, the mechanisms operate at 3 levels:
- each of the LODs has Departmental Governance arrangements in place to support and provide assurance to their accounting officer/head of department
- there are bilateral arrangements by which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (DSFO), the Treasury Solicitor (who oversees the Government Legal Department) and the Chief Inspector account to the Law Officers as the responsible ministers for the exercise of their functions and the running of their departments
- there are cross-LODs arrangements to manage and support spending review and finance submissions together with central government initiatives on transparency and spending controls
The DPP and DSFO are accounting officers for the CPS and SFO respectively (the CPS Chief Executive is an additional accounting officer). The Treasury Solicitor is accounting officer for GLD, AGO and HMCPSI. In addition, the Director General AGO and the Chief Inspector (who is himself an accounting officer) also provide the Treasury Solicitor, as the Departmental Accounting Officer, with assurance on their systems of internal control, financial management and other governance matters through an annual assurance process and performance and accountability reviews.
Each of the Law Officers’ Departments (apart from AGO and HMCPSI) is a non-ministerial Government Department. Each of them (with the exception of AGO) is headed by a statutory office holder. AGO is small a ministerial Department which supports the Attorney General and Solicitor General in their role as Law Officers.
The CPS, SFO and GLD each has in place a departmental board which meets regularly, comprising senior staff from the Department and a number of external non-executive directors. They each have an audit and risk committee chaired by one of the non-executive Directors together with a number of other internal Governance committees.
AGO has an internal management board, the executive board, which meets monthly and which is made up of representatives from across the different areas of the Office. AGO is subject to the oversight of the GLD audit committee.
HMCPSI has an internal management board, the inspection management board, which meets monthly and which is made up of representatives from across the Inspectorate together with an external adviser. HMCPSI is also subject to the oversight of the GLD Audit Committee.
In addition, the Director General, AGO and the Chief Inspector meet regularly with the Treasury Solicitor and provide him with annual assurance reports, and performance and accountability reports every 6 months in relation to their systems of internal control and financial management.
Routine business meetings
The Law Officers meet monthly with the DPP and the DSFO to discuss casework, policy and finance issues arising in relation to the work of the CPS and SFO, in support of their statutory superintendence role.
The Law Officers meet every two months with the Chief Inspector to discuss the work of HMCPSI and to agree its inspection priorities.
The Law Officers meet regularly with the Treasury Solicitor to discuss the work of the Treasury Solicitor and the Government Legal Service more generally.
LODs’ finance directors’ group
The LODs’ finance directors’ group is chaired by the Deputy Director, Finance and Strategy at AGO on behalf of the Law Officers. Its membership comprises the finance directors from CPS, SFO, GLD and the HMCPSI Head of Corporate Services, along with other representatives from those departments and AGO. By convention, a representative of HM Treasury also attends. The group meets monthly. It provides the mechanism by which the Law Officers can ensure that spending review and finance submissions are co-ordinated and that central government requirements on transparency and spending controls are disseminated and co-ordinated across the LODs.