2017: A(nother) Year of Change... Chief Executive's message

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you have all enjoyed a well-earned rest and have returned refreshed ready for the year ahead.

An election year is always significant and 2016 was no exception. As you know, we welcomed a record number of new Members.

Session 5 - new MSPs

It was also a momentous year for other reasons – not least the vote across the UK to leave the European Union. The Parliamentary Service performed exceptionally well in delivering business and planning for a new Parliament. The highlight was the way you worked together across teams to make the start of our fifth session such a resounding success – the feedback from new Members, in particular, has been fantastic. Well done and thank you!

Sir Paul Grice

I expect 2017 to be another significant year for the Scottish Parliament.

We will be driven by three priorities:

  • continuing to deliver our core services to the highest standard possible;
  • responding to changing circumstances; and
  • making the best use of resources.

As I see it, the main focus of our attention will be:

Successful service delivery

This remains the bedrock of what we do. I don’t underestimate the challenge of delivering outstanding performance year after year. But that is what defines us a Parliamentary Service and must remain our focus.

I am pleased to say that we have reached agreement with the Corporate Body over our proposed resources for next year (and the year following) which represents a real terms increase and recognises the additional pressures on us. That said, it is always likely that demand for services will continue to rise so we must increase our efforts on improving our productivity through better service design and innovation as well as focussing even more clearly on the services which add the greatest value.

New Powers and Brexit

Our focus as a Parliamentary Service will be on supporting Members in engaging with and scrutinising both the use of the new tax and social security powers as well as the consequences of the UK exiting the European Union. The Constitutional Issues Board, which is leading our work on these issues, will provide you with an update later this week.

Commission on Parliamentary Reform

In his speech to mark the opening of this Parliamentary Session, the Presiding Officer spoke about “a Parliament which has been refreshed” with regard to the new Members and of “a shared recognition that it is more important than ever that the Parliament finds its own voice”. These are sentiments which I wholeheartedly support and which provide the aspirational background to the Commission.

A snippet session on the Commission for Parliamentary Reform

The Commission, which is expected to report in June, is a great opportunity to reflect on and improve the way the Parliament operates. I am delighted that you will have the chance to contribute later today. If you haven’t already seen it, the email from Ken Hughes last week explains this. I would urge you to feed in to the Commission to help shape the way our Parliament works!

Our Skills and Capabilities

As we embrace the challenges ahead, we will also continue to invest in your skills and capabilities – principally through our Organisational Development Programme. This is a genuine opportunity for all of us to learn and to develop in our roles. Again, I would urge you to get involved and make the most of it.


I recognise that it is important that you receive good leadership from myself and my Leadership Group colleagues (as well as from your team leader) in responding positively to the inevitable change and undoubted challenges which lie ahead. We have started a conversation with colleagues about management and leadership in the organisation and we will keep that going for the foreseeable future.

Improving our communications is one of my top priorities this year. To support this we have set up a working group involving colleagues from across the organisation to help us generate ideas for how we can do better. I recognise that, with the uncertainty and complexity, in particular, around constitutional and Parliamentary change, there is no substitute for face-to-face discussion to explore the issues involved. Therefore, with support from your Group Head, I will be meeting every team between now and the end of June to discuss what lies ahead in 2017. And my Assistant Chief Executive colleagues will also be looking for opportunities, through the strategic programmes on which they lead, to engage with you direct.

Finally, can I thank you again for your fantastic efforts in 2016. And, as we celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns later this week, we should keep in mind for the year ahead his famous quote : “Dare to be honest and fear no labour”.

All the very best for 2017!


January 2017

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