HSENI Extraordinary Board meeting minutes - 17 February 2023

Extraordinary Meeting of HSENI Board to discuss the Business case for the Workplace Transport Campaign – 17 February 2023 at 9:30am via Zoom.


  • Mr Derek Martin (Chairman)
  • Mrs Siobhan Rooney
  • Dr Pat Hart
  • Mr Gerry Strong
  • Mr Tom Wright
  • Mr Robert Kidd
  • Mr Louis Burns


  • Mrs Catherine Irwin
  • Mr Simon McDowell
  • Mr Andrew Cooke
  • Mr Harry Sinclair

The Chair welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending at short notice to discuss the matter in hand. He set out a brief background to the issue and thanked Mrs Rooney for her email setting out her concerns. He explained that the meeting was quorate and the members present could therefore make a decision on the business case following the discussion.

Mr Kidd thanked the board for the opportunity to discuss the matter and apologised that due to pressures of work and a lack of communication on his part, the Business Case had been issued without an appropriate cover note. He explained that Mr Burns would take the Board through a chronology and then seek to address the questions raised by Mrs Rooney and Mr Strong in an attempt to clarify the position.

Mr Burns then talked the Board through the following paper -

Chronology and background

  1. Through Central Procurement Directorate (CPD), HSENI let a contract for advertising. In effect this is a zero value contract until we give them a piece of work.
  2. One of the evaluated criteria in that tender exercise was that those tendering had to present an illustration of how they would deliver a Workplace Transport campaign.
  3. Through CPD that contract was awarded to Genesis Advertising Agency.
  4. The Workplace Transport proposal submitted by Genesis as part of that tendering process was deemed to be very good and HSENI decided to use this as a basis to develop the creative elements of the campaign.
  5. In reality this meant fine tuning the materials and consulting our Head of Groups (HoGs)/Senior Management Team (SMT). This took quite a lot of time and work mainly within HSENI.
  6. In late January HSENI finally agreed the material content and had carried out site visits to ascertain the suitability for filming locations.
  7. At that point we got to the position where we could commit to spending the majority of the money in the business case. A failure to get agreement or a good product would result in the money not being used/not spent for this purpose.
  8. This will be used to:
  • Hire film locations
  • Hire plant for film shoot
  • Film crew
  • Actors
  • Audio production including voiceover
  • Editing
  • Studio time and Photography
  • Audience testing
  1. The outputs will be:
  • TV quality adverts (2)
  • Radio adverts (2)
  • Video output for social media
  • Outdoor media (e.g. adshel)
  • Infographics
  • Online materials etc.
  1. Given the breadth of work sectors HSENI has to cover and the different workplace priorities in each it is not possible to create bespoke adverts for each sector so, as in our very successful asbestos campaign, we will have key images and a ‘call to action’. There is a lot of work ongoing in the teams at the minute in preparing the supporting materials for each sector.

Mrs Rooney's questions

  1. Why did this not come to the full Board Meeting on 2 February 2023
  • Quite simply this was an oversight.
  • I apologise for this.
  • By way of explanation we lost our Deputy Principal from our Communications Unit at relatively short notice before Christmas, then we had the Christmas holidays and this was missed.
  • At the very least we should have signalled at the February board meeting what this was and that it was coming.
  • That said, we have not committed to spending this money at this stag
  1. This is part of a year long campaign based on HSE strategic direction outlined in the Corporate Plan and Adverts production for this project need to be complete by 31/03/2023.
  • That is correct.
  • In his paper to board members of 29 June 2022, Mr Burns stated on page 9 “we are using budget from this year (2022/23) to develop the media output for the year one theme of workplace transport”.
  • In his presentation to the board at the board meeting on slide 8 Mr Burns again stated, “we are using budget from this year (2022/23) to develop the media output for the year one theme of workplace transport”.
  • Time is tight to get this work delivered but we have been in this position before and assurances have been received from Genesis this can be delivered by 31 March 2023.
  1. The project a £100K Capital Spend Project appears to have already been approved by Mr Burns as a project on 16/06/2022 , is this within the delegated financial agreement for SMT capital spend, if yes why are we asked to approve a business case for £100k?
  • This is not a ‘capital spend’. The business case states this is OPEX or operating expenditure.
  • The date of 16 June 2022 is a mistake. When drafting this business case a previous template was used. An error was made insofar as the date was not changed. The correct date should have been circa 9 February 2023.
  • Mr Burns has not approved the business case in advance of it being approved by the Board but the generic business case form approved for use in the NICS requires a member of staff to be the approver.
  • Budget spend greater than £50,000 by HSENI requires Board approval.
  1. Option two has been ruled out with reason as - need the expertise of the contracted advertising agency. HSE Board members have not had input into this decision and are now asked to approve a business case where the option appraisal decision has been taken and the business case agreed and contract awarded in June 2022. Is this retrospective Board approval?
  • This is not retrospective approval as we have not spent this money yet. A small amount of work has been undertaken with Genesis and quite a lot in-house to get us to a position where we are now and where we can spend this money.
  • Remember we only got the Ministerial approval for our new Corporate Plan in October so a significant pressure has been on staff to get us to this point.
  • Option one is the one recommended by HSENI. The reasons for this are set out in the business case.
  • The Board can direct us to opt for option two but, as stated in the business case, the finance is available/option two will not meet the strategic requirements of the organisation and will not deliver the corporate plan output. It would however save the expenditure.
  1. Agreed by Board and Former Minister to use available finance from preceding year 2022/23 was this part of an agreed financial carry over arrangement for HSE or DFE?
  • No – 2022/23 is the current year and therefore would not require a carryover financial arrangement.
  • HSENI cannot avail of ‘carryover financial arrangements’.
  • There is no carry over in the NI Block grant.
  1. At Section three it states that tendering for the contract has taken place and the contract was awarded to Genesis Advertising LTD on 07/06/2022.
  • That is correct – that was the tendering for the ‘advertising provider’. That was tendered via CPD.
  1. A Project manager Danielle Mills has already been appointed.
  • That is correct – Danielle Mills is a Principal in charge of HSENI Communications Unit.
  • The generic business case form approved for use in the NICS requires a member of staff to be the ‘project manager’ for issues such as budget management and reporting.
  1. Section five, Management Case only identifies operational management arrangements, contract managed by Head of Communication Team with no reference to Governance, oversight and Board updates or post project evaluation (PPE).
  • As this project is one of the new corporate plan outputs as agreed by the HSENI Board, DfE and the DfE Minister, it will be reported as part of the CEO report at all board meetings.
  • NICS policy requires all such expenditures to have a post project evaluation.
  1. I also have a slight concern about items coming via email for approval outside of formal Board meetings for two reasons (fully understand emergency or urgent situations but this was approved by staff member in June 2022). Governance of discussion, decision making and approval for capital spend and corporate decisions.
  • We accept we should have brought this to the February Board meeting but I have explained the reasons behind that.
  • We will endeavour to bring everything to the Board in normal Board papers but situations will arise where we need to get things moved and approved between meetings. We are happy to facilitate any questions that board members have in these situations and we will try and keep these to a minimum.
  • As the Board only meets formally four times a year (and once to sign off annual report), it is inevitable that items such as this will arise in the intervening periods and occasionally the timeline will not enable us to hold the item until the next Board meeting.
  • Again this expenditure was only brought to a position where we agreed the product in January.
  • It was not approved in June 2022 – that was an administrative error as explained.
  1. These approvals are not recorded formally in the Board minutes for good governance in record keeping, evidence of decision making and aboard agreements and approvals. (they occur by email outside of board meetings)
  • Where we ask for Board approval outside of formal board meetings we record and retain all communications and approvals etc.
  • Formal records are kept on the approved NICS records management system.
  • As I said above this approval request should have been presented as an agenda item at our last Board meeting.
  • That is accepted. At the very least we should have flagged this to the board at the last meeting, but you will be aware that there were reasons this did not happen.
  1. I’m also not sure why this is now coming to Board for approval as the project appears to have been approved last June 2022 and the contract awarded, maybe I am missing something here?
  • As explained this expenditure has not been approved and the June 2022 date is an administrative error.

Mr Strong's comments

  1. I feel there should some reference of reporting Status updates to them somewhere within this Business Case.
  • As this project relates to the production of media material to support one of the new corporate plan outputs as agreed by the HSENI Board, DfE and the DfE Minister, it will be reported as part of the Chief Executive's report at all Board meetings.
  • NICS policy requires all such expenditures to have a post project evaluation.


Mr Martin thanked Mr Burns for the presentation and invited Mrs Rooney to comment. Mrs Rooney asked if it would be possible to provide a list of decisions made by the Board each year as the Board cannot access Content Manager to look back on decisions taken by correspondence. She thanked Mr Burns for the clarification and reiterated a concern about staff operating under pressure.

ACTION: A list of board decisions for the past year will be brought as a paper to the April board meeting each year summarising the Board decisions and creating an accessible record.

There was also a suggestion from the Chair of adding a standing item to the Agenda of “Items for Board approval”. This could be used to present papers, flag issues that will come to the board in the future or simply a nil return.

ACTION: Add a standing item to the Agenda of “Items for Board approval”.

The Chair also raised a question around measuring the effectiveness of an initiative. Mr Kidd explained that metrics would be captured by the Case Management System (CMS) to record interventions relating to Workplace Transport and that part of the contract process would be to engage with focus groups to gauge knowledge before and after the campaign as a way of measuring the success of the work.

Mr Strong raised a question regarding the detailing of feedback processes and reporting mechanisms to the board. Mr Burns explained that this business case only referred to the preparation of the creatives and that this work will be complete by the time the board next convene in April. He added that a new business case will come to the board seeking approval to spend in the 2023/24 year which is the delivery of outputs – buying TV and radio airtime, adshel placements etc. The progress of this work will be reported to the board as the campaign runs.

There were comments around the wording of the business case and the reference to project manager and approver and the fact that some fields were not completed. Mr Burns explained that this is an NICS template and that it must have a Project Manager and approver as part of the audit process. The fields left blank are due to the fact that this is a scalable template applied to projects of a much size and value.

Mrs Rooney stated that in her opinion the business case was poorly written and said she would leave that with SMT to consider. Mr Burns stated that he drafted the business case (under the work pressures as outlined) and that he took full responsibility for the document and will undertake to avoid this situation occurring again.

Mr Wright said he would welcome the inclusion of a background briefing for any future business case and that he understood the need for a proportional approach to dealing with a project of this size which he acknowledged is not an insignificant amount of money but compared to many other projects that will go through, it is. He also made the point that if any of the SMT or indeed other staff was feeling under pressure they should feel free to speak to the Chair or any member of the Board who would offer any support they could given their backgrounds. The Chair
re-emphasised this.

The Chair asked board members on the basis of the discussion that had taken place if they were content to approve proceeding with the spend referenced in the business case in order to have the necessary preparatory work in place in order that the campaign could commence in the next financial year with the creatives already in place. The members present all indicated that they were content to approve the business case.

OUTCOME: The Board approved the Business Case of the spend of up to £100k on the completion of the creatives by 31 March 2023 as detailed above.

The Chair summarised by thanking everyone for coming together at short notice and for the frank and open discussion. The meeting concluded at 10:35am.

Board Minutes adopted and approved and signed by the Chairman, Derek Martin on 27 April 2023.