Set up a spend controls assurance board

Follow this guidance to create an assurance board for the commercial and digital and technology spend controls processes.

Your organisation needs an assurance board to follow version 5 of the commercial and digital and technology spend controls process. This board reviews the assurance decisions that your organisation makes before making a referral to the joint assurance review.

Assurance board responsibilities

Commercial and digital and technology assurance boards have the following responsibilities:

The digital and technology assurance board:

  • helps your organisation follow single departmental plans and the UK Digital Strategy
  • oversees architectural design investment
  • aligns to the organisation’s procurement pipeline
  • considers the financial implications
  • makes sure solutions are flexible to meet evolving user needs
  • follows the government digital principles and underpinning standards

Government Digital Service (GDS) is involved in the decision-making process at the assurance board level for the digital and technology activities. The Government Commercial Function (GCF) Central Commercial Teams will only observe commercial decision-making periodically and by invitation.

The commercial assurance board:

  • makes sure all spend activity is assessed against the Commercial Operating Standards
  • considers value for money for commercial spend
  • evaluates approaches to procurement
  • helps limit commercial risks and maximise opportunities
  • helps government implement and manage change to commercial decisions
  • finds opportunities to minimise duplication and maximise cross-government collaboration by cross-referencing pipelines across government bodies
  • helps your organisation follow the single departmental plan

The assurance board may perform other functions which will be in pipeline submissions, if applicable.

For further information read the:

Use your existing governance process as your assurance board

The commercial and digital and technology spend controls encourage your organisation to use internal governance as part of the spend approvals process.

Your organisation should have robust internal governance arrangements with sufficient seniority and experience to review and internally approve pipelines. The Cabinet Office recommends the assurance board chair should be director-level, with deputies no lower than SCS1.

An assurance board may already exist in your organisation under another name, such as the Enterprise Architecture Board, Commercial Board or Investment Committee. Your organisation may need to amend these existing governance bodies so they can carry out timely reviews and comply with functional standards.

Create an assurance board

Your organisation may need to create an assurance board if existing internal governance does not exist.

Digital and technology assurance board

The digital and technology assurance board must include an:

  • assurance board chair
  • head of digital design
  • head of enterprise IT
  • head of data
  • head of information security
  • Cabinet Office representation through GDS

The digital and technology assurance board can only meet if the above members are present.

Your organisation may also invite the following bodies or representatives to attend the assurance board meetings:

  • Government Commercial Function (GCF)
  • Crown Commercial Service (CCS)
  • Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA)
  • supplier representatives, depending on the business agenda
  • other roles such as Head of Innovation, Head of Strategy, depending on department structure

Commercial assurance board

The commercial spend controls are operated by the Cabinet Office Central Commercial Teams, which are part of GCF. The Cabinet Office Central Commercial Teams support the Government Chief Commercial Officer to deliver cross-government initiatives.

The commercial assurance board must include:

  • an assurance board chair
  • a commercial director or equivalent
  • a commercial head from arm’s-length bodies relevant to your organisation

The commercial assurance board should also:

  • involve representatives from the business or major programmes and, if possible, from other organisations
  • be open to periodic observation by the Cabinet Office Central Commercial Teams
  • consider representation from GDS and Crown Commercial Service, when appropriate

Making decisions in the assurance board

A deputy (SCS1 or functional equivalent) nominated by a core member of an assurance board can make decisions in meetings on behalf of their nominator.

Within the digital and technology assurance board, the Cabinet Office members have the same authority as any other member of the team. They can flag spend items that need a further review if they have significant concerns.

You should agree an action plan and review point for digital and technology spend activities if you are not able to resolve any issues during your assurance board meeting.

Published 30 April 2018