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REPORT

Consultative Report of the Council on matters relating to central administration and management (the Finance and Planning and Resources Committees, the establishment of a Buildings Committee)

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. This Report sets out for consideration proposals for the future responsibilities of the Finance Committee and the Planning and Resources Committee, proposes the establishment of a Buildings Committee, and makes some consequential provision for sub-committees. In particular the Report proposes:

(a) that the high-level committees dealing with finance, planning, and resources should be the Finance Committee and the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC);
(b) that the work of the PRC should focus principally on strategic planning and on higher-level aspects of resource allocation;
(c) that the work of the Finance Committee should focus principally on financial matters and stewardship;
(d) that as a consequence of the refocus of the Finance Committee's responsibilities, most of its present responsibilities for buildings should transfer to a new Buildings Committee, which should report to the central bodies through the PRC;
(e) that the Resource Management Committee should deal with detailed work on resource allocation, reporting to the PRC, but, as authority was decentralized to the Schools, this work should increasingly concentrate on implementation of decision-making arising from use of the Resource Allocation Model (RAM) and co-ordination of University participation in national funding schemes (such as SRIF);
(f) that the Minor Works Review Group should report to the Buildings Committee;
(g) that the Audit Committee should become a statutory committee of the Council.

2. Some amendments of Statute would be required fully to implement this framework. The remainder of this Report sets out more detail of these proposals.

The Finance Committee, the Buildings Sub-committee, and the Planning and Resources Committee

3. The CAPSA review report by Professor Shattock (Reporter, 2001-02, p. 177) made two recommendations about the Finance Committee and the PRC:

(10) The Council should review the functions of the Finance Committee with a view to ensuring that the Committee can concentrate on its role of supervising the University's finances and advising the Council on the University's financial position, and should establish a new main committee to deal with all matters of buildings, property and the University estate (§3.6, §6.6-6.8, §8.2).

(11) The Council should review the relationship between the Planning and Resources Committee and the Finance Committee to ensure that overlaps in the business of the two bodies are as far as possible eliminated and that the Finance Committee is fully recognised as being responsible for the financial systems, financial management information, and for monitoring the management accounts of the University (§3.6, §6.6-6.8, §8.2).

4. The Council have reviewed the functions of the Finance Committee as recommended, and the relationship between the PRC and the Finance Committee. The Council accept the principles contained in Recommendations 10 and 11 and make proposals accordingly.

The Finance Committee at present

5. The Finance Committee is a statutory committee of the Council (Statute A, V) and has various statutory functions (Statute F) as well as responsibilities under the regulations for financial matters, University property, and other matters set out in Chapter XIII of Ordinances (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 905). The Vice-Chancellor chairs the Finance Committee.

The Planning and Resources Committee at present

6. The Planning and Resources Committee is a joint committee of the Council and the General Board, established by those bodies. Since 1 October 2003 the PRC has been chaired on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor by Professor A. C. Minson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources. The PRC has responsibility for advising the central bodies about strategic matters, and conducts much of the higher-level planning and management of University resources.

The Buildings Sub-committee at present

7. Major buildings matters are considered by the Buildings Sub-committee of the Council's Finance Committee, which is a sub-committee established by that Committee, which itself has certain formal responsibilities for building matters. The Sub-committee is chaired by a member of the Finance Committee (at present Dr D. C. Nicholls). The work of the Sub-committee is both financial (in determining and monitoring project costs) and technical. It reports its business to its parent, the Finance Committee, which in practice has particular regard to financial aspects, and which transmits the Sub-committee's advice on major building projects to the Council, which itself has the responsibility for reporting on these projects to the University.

Committee remits in the finance, planning, and resources areas

8. The Council believe that business within the fields of these bodies would be better organized if their respective responsibilities were redefined as follows:

Higher-level committees

(a) The Planning and Resources Committee to be responsible for advice to the central bodies about major strategic matters, and for the conduct, subject to the responsibilities of the Council and the General Board, of the higher-level planning and resource management of the University including, with advice from the Finance Committee, proposing the University budget to the Council and the General Board. The Committee would be responsible for the process by which strategic frameworks are prepared, and new, or revised, academic, financial, and estates policy frameworks determined. The PRC would continue to be chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources.

(b) The Finance Committee to be the body principally responsible under the Council for financial management and stewardship, including overview of the University's accounts (and accounting policies, practices, and systems), consideration of management accounts, investment management, the management of the non-operational real property of the University, and the custody of tangible and intangible University assets, reporting to the Council as necessary, and advising the PRC, especially about the budgetary envelope predicted prudently to be available to the University for both capital and recurrent expenditure. The Committee would continue to fulfil their current role under Statute J in relation to Cambridge University Press and to exercise their current scrutiny on behalf of the Council in relation to the Local Examinations Syndicate.

Other committees

(c) The Buildings Sub-committee of the Finance Committee to be reconstituted as the Buildings Committee, to become a joint committee of the Council and the General Board, and to be fully responsible for advising the PRC about executive matters relating to the operational estate and the buildings programme, including buildings maintenance, within budgets and estate plans approved by the central bodies on the recommendation of the PRC. The Buildings Committee would be chaired by a member of the PRC designated by the Council. Its full composition is not yet determined.

(d) The Minor Works Review Group would report to the Buildings Committee. It would continue as a technical review and implementation group. It would be chaired by a member of the Buildings Committee.

Audit

9. The Audit Committee, at present a standing committee of the Council established by Ordinance (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 906), would continue to discharge its proper audit functions, which are largely functions of assessment of internal control processes, and advice to the Council about their effectiveness, rather than matters of operational management of outcomes. It would be established by Statute.

Committee servicing arrangements

10. These Committees would continue to be serviced by appropriate officers of the central administration.

(a) Planning and Resources Committee. The secretariat of the PRC would continue to be provided from the Planning and Resource Allocation Office.

(b) Finance Committee. At present the Treasurer is statutory Secretary of the Finance Committee. The Council will report further about this office. The lead in presenting financial business to the Finance Committee is now, and would continue to be, taken by the Director of the Finance Division. The secretariat of the Committee is now, and would continue to be, provided through the Secretariat.

(c) Buildings Committee. The Director of the Estate Management and Building Service and his colleagues would continue to take the lead in presenting business to the Committee. The secretariat of the new Committee, as for the present Sub-committee, would be provided from the Planning and Resource Allocation Office.

11. The Council have noted that the arrangements for the attendance of administrative and technical officers at meetings of the Council, the General Board, and their committees and other bodies vary. In some cases only the officer or officers directly servicing the body normally attend the whole meeting, with other officers invited for specific items of business. In other cases a larger number of officers are routinely present. The Council have asked the Registrary to review the arrangements for attendance of officers, balancing the need to ensure that proper advice is available to members against effective use of officer time.

Membership

12. The Council have also reviewed the membership of the Committees.

13. The constitution of the Planning and Resources Committee is currently: the Vice-Chancellor or a Pro-Vice-Chancellor in the chair, the Chairs of the six Councils of the Schools (who are normally also members of the General Board and the Resource Management Committee), three senior members of the Council and a student member appointed by the Council, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellors. The Council have always sought to ensure that there is senior representation from the Colleges on the Committee. They now propose that this should be formally recognized and that the membership should also be broadened to include members appointed by the Council and the General Board from the senior management of other (non-School) institutions under their supervision (excluding the central administration), as follows:

the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) (chair) and the other Pro-Vice-Chancellors;

the Chairs of the Councils of the Schools (who are normally members of the General Board);

the Chair of the Colleges' Committee and one other member appointed by the Colleges;

three members appointed by the Council, at least one from their own membership and at least one from an institution under their supervision (excluding the central administration);

three members appointed by the General Board (to include at least one from an institution outside a School but under the supervision of the Board);

a student member of the Council.

14. The Council make no proposals at present to change the constitution of the Finance Committee which is set out in Regulation 1 for Financial Matters (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 905). (The members are the Vice-Chancellor in the chair, members elected by representatives of the Colleges, members appointed by Grace, members appointed by the Council, a member appointed by the General Board, and co-opted external members.) They do, however, note that it would be desirable, given the increased and focused role of the Committee in financial management and in monitoring financial performance, if the independent, expert membership were strengthened further through use of the power of co-optation.

Sub-committee structure

15. The Council make no proposals at present (other than the redesignation of the Buildings sub-committee, as above) for reorganizing the main sub-committees of the Finance Committee (Investments, Joint Telecommunications, Financial System Management, and Farm Management). These will be reviewed in due course. They do however make further proposals for committees and sub-committees working to the PRC.

16. They intend that the existing Resource Management Committee (RMC) should continue formally to be a joint committee of the Council and the General Board, but now reporting principally through the Planning and Resources Committee, with responsibilities focused on: (a) management of the Resource Allocation Model (RAM) and its implementation, (b) advising the PRC on allocations for central heads of expenditure, and (c) co-ordinating Cambridge's participation in national funding initiatives, such as SRIF. The membership of the RMC would be: the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) as Chair, the Chairs of the Councils of the Schools, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Special Responsibilities), and a student member appointed by the Council.

17. The Council intend that the existing Minor Works Review Group, an officer group that reviews minor works (capital projects estimated to cost less than £2m) should be reconstituted as a Buildings Committee Sub-committee. The existing Review Group has functioned well to ensure value for money in relevant projects but the Council believe that it is appropriate that this task be developed further by academic members of the new Sub-committee, with appropriate officer advice.

18. The reporting lines of other committees, including the Environment Committee, are under review.

Definition of Council committees in the Statutes

19. With the exception of the Audit Committee (not, however, at present mentioned in the Statutes), no useful purpose is served by the definition by Statute of committees of the Council. The Council, and the General Board, are fully responsible for the business which is discharged through their committees, and it is therefore unhelpful that statutory definition should be given to particular committees which appears to diminish the full responsibility of the central bodies. The Council therefore propose that the existing Statute (Statute A, V) about committees of the Council should be replaced by a new Statute which will refer to the Audit Committee, and that the main provision for the Finance Committee should be in the Ordinances, where both it and the Planning and Resources Committee would be referred to. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is currently consulting nationally on a draft revised Audit Code of Practice. The HEFCE's proposals, if implemented, would in any case require the University to consider amendments to the existing Ordinance for the Audit Committee. The statutory changes would, as previously proposed in the Report of the Council on the composition of the Council (Reporter, 1999-2000, p. 237) and the Report of the Council on governance (Reporter, 2001-02, p. 945), include the abolition of the Consultative Committee, the functions of which are now discharged differently, and which is already in abeyance.

Implementation

20. The Council put forward this Report for consultation. In the light of comments made at the Discussion, and other comments, legislation will be prepared in due course for submission to the Regent House. Amendments both of Statutes and of Ordinances would be required.

8 March 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorWILLIAM BROWND. W. B. MACDONALD
 S. H. ADELMAND. A. GOODJAMES MATHESON
 SARAH AIREYDAVID S. INGRAMMARTIN REES
 Z. BARANSKIIAN LESLIEG. A. REID
 RICHARD BARNESA. M. LONSDALELIBA TAUB
 JOHN BOYDD. LOWTHERJOAN M. WHITEHEAD
 B. J. BRINDED  


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Cambridge University Reporter 10 March 2004
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