Consultation on Screening of Policies Report

Consultation on Policy Screening Report

Director General’s Office

Commission Support and Compliance Unit

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Records Management Policy
This policy statement sets the Assembly Commission’s commitment and intention to introduce an efficient and effective records management system. This policy ensures that records are managed throughout their lifecycle in the medium most appropriate for the task. This policy was screened out.
Corporate Plan 2008/2011
This policy sets out the strategic priorities and corporate objectives for the Assembly Secretariat. The aim of this plan is to set out the strategic direction to be taken by the Assembly Secretariat during the period 2008-2011. This policy was screened out.
Equality Scheme
This policy outlines the actions to be adopted in response to the Assembly Commission’s obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland
Act 1998.
The Equality Scheme was approved by the Equality Commission in February 2008 and this sets out how the Assembly Commission will address its obligations under the Section 75. This policy was screened out.
Good Relations Strategy/Policy
This policy (in development) will set out how the Assembly Commission intends to address its obligations under Section 75 of the NI Act 1998. The aim of this policy is to identify actions/initiatives that will enable the Assembly Commission to specifically address the issue of good relations in terms of the services and facilities it provides to Members, staff and visitors. Whilst the policy is at the development stage, it is considered that a full screening exercise will be undertaken in due course and a final recommendation on any impact assessment will be made available.
Flags Policy
This policy statement sets out the guidelines for when the Union Flag should fly on Parliament Buildings. This policy provides the designated days throughout the year when the Union Flag flies on Parliament Buildings. This policy mirrors the process adopted by the NI Civil Service and is in accordance with the Flags ( Northern Ireland) Order 2000. In the event that the Assembly Commission adopts a specific policy for the flying of flags on Parliament Buildings, this policy will be screened and considered for a full impact assessment.
Internal Communications Policy
Outlines guidelines for an open, inclusive and accessible flow of information to Business Areas within the Assembly. The aim of the Internal Communications Strategy is to bring about an improvement in internal communications within the Secretariat and to foster and support a culture of openness and of listening to the views of others in the Assembly. This policy was screened out.
Data Protection Policy
The Assembly is required to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 in terms of processing personal information and in the way that it responds to requests for information about individuals. The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission is fully committed to compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act) which came into force on 1 March 2000. The Act is intended to protect personal privacy and to uphold the rights of individuals by regulating the processing of their personal information (data). Data processing includes obtaining, recording, holding, transferring, transcribing, printing, filing, sorting, retrieving and disclosing information relating to individuals. This policy was screened out.

Engagement Directorate

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Education Programme
To provide the public with information on the work of the Assembly in a variety of ways – road shows, education centre, outreach facilities and leaflets. The education programme provides a front-line service to a wide range of groups interested in the work of the Assembly. Visitors to Parliament Buildings are encouraged to book visits to learn about and understand the work of the Assembly. A full impact assessment of the programme is not recommended at this stage. There are aspects of the service such as targeting of groups/schools that will be further considered as part of the wider Engagement Strategy Equality Impact Assessment.
Events Policy - Functions & Tours at Parliament Buildings
Sets out the regulations and guidelines for tours and events within Parliament Buildings. Based on an analysis of political parties booking functions and tours, a marked imbalance is evident between nationalist and unionist parties. There is also some evidence to suggest that groups have different needs — for example, special arrangements may be required to facilitate guests who may have a disability. Additionally, some guests, due to their respective religious beliefs, will have requirements for private space for prayer or special dietary needs. Further detailed analysis of these issues will be required. This policy was screened out. However, it should be noted that the NI Assembly is currently developing an Outreach and Engagement Strategy and the relevant elements of the Events function will be encompassed in the impact assessment of the engagement strategy.
Engagement Strategy
The Strategy aims to inform, educate, involve and encourage public participation in the work of the Assembly. The Strategy will seek to improve upon information services and establish new initiatives for informing and involving the public of Northern Ireland. As the Engagement Strategy is a recent development within the NI Assembly, work is currently progressing to identify the specific policies that derive from the Strategy. It is anticipated that this Strategy or elements thereof will be considered appropriate for a full impact assessment.

Library

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Access policy
This policy sets out guidance on who can use the Library and when. This policy aims to ensure that MLAs have priority access to Library services on Assembly Sitting Days. This policy was screened out.
Acquisition policy
This policy provides guidance for Librarians on the selection and quantities of stock for the Library. This policy aims to ensure that Library stock is current and relevant to Assembly business needs. This policy was screened out.
Retention policy
This policy sets out what is held by the Library and the period of retention. This policy aims to ensure that relevant archive is maintained. This policy was screened out.
Disaster Recovery Policy
This policy sets out how the Library would maintain a service in the event of a disaster. This policy aims to ensure that a basic, professional Library service and stock would be available to Assembly Members and staff in the event of a disaster. This policy was screened out.

Research Services

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Publication of research papers
Sets out the procedure for the clearance of Committee research for publication and the approaches for internal and external publication. This policy ensures timely and appropriate dissemination of information. This policy was screened out.
Guidance on the management and delivery of Member research requests
Sets out service objectives for the delivery of Member requests. This policy ensures that Members receive effective research support. This policy was screened out.
Guidance setting out roles and responsibilities for the use of external specialist advisers to Committees.
Sets out the context in which specialist advisers may be used and the roles and responsibilities of Clerks and Researchers in most effectively delivering external specialist advice to Committees. This policy ensures that appropriate external advice is available to Committees. This policy was screened out.
Policy for the recording of all Research and Library requests.
Information record of all Research and Library requests received. This policy provides management information to support effective operation of the service and service planning. This policy was screened out.
Guidance principles for the management of Committee research requests.
Guidelines stipulate the type of requests that should be referred to Research and Library Services. This policy ensures that Committees receive effective research support. This policy was screened out.

Clerking and Reporting Directorate

Hansard

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Publication Policy
Details the arrangements to publish the Official Report, including guidance on the format and presentation of the report and arrangements for reporting contributions in other languages (mainly Irish and Ulster Scots) This policy provides guidance on the production of a substantially verbatim record of Assembly proceedings to agreed timeframes. Accessibility issues have been considered as part of ongoing review of working practices. Translation and reporting arrangements for Irish and Ulster Scots are in place. The Official Report is published on the Assembly website with browsealoud and variable font size facilities. A full impact assessment is not recommended but further consideration will be given to elements of this policy in the context of a wider assessment of the Engagement Strategy and corporate publication guidelines.
Editorial Policy
This policy details Hansard style and aims to effect consistency across the Hansard editorial policy. Has evolved over the years and has been influenced by practices in other parliamentary reported bodies. This policy was screened out.
Archiving Policy
Policy outlining storage and filing arrangements for Hansard records. The Official Report is archived in hard copy format in a number of places, including deposit libraries and PRONI. In addition, archived Official Reports are available on the Assembly website, which includes browsealoud and larger font size facilities. Some work is also held in CD-Rom format by PRONI. This policy was screened out.

Resources Directorate

Finance Office

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Members’ Financial Services
This sets out the procedures for running monthly Members’ expenditure reports, recording Members’ commitments and payment processing. It also covers Party Allowance and Office Cost Allowance uplifts – procedures for calculating and uplifting to the system the allowances for the year. The policy also details how Members travel claims are processed. This policy primarily relates to guidance concerning the processing of expenditure. This policy was screened out.
Travel Scheme
This Travel Scheme describes the situations when the Northern Ireland Assembly will meet the costs of travel for Members or Secretariat staff. Travel by staff in the course of official Assembly business (for example, travel to / from airports or to meetings at other locations) is already covered by the existing arrangements adopted by the Assembly as contained in the Northern Ireland Civil Service Staff Handbook. It provides guidance about when travel costs will be met by the Assembly for travel that is unique to the workings of the Assembly. It also provides detailed information on the situations where travel by taxi is appropriate. This policy was screened out.

Procurement Office

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Procurement Policy
Policy sets out how the Assembly Commission and Secretariat will meet their obligations to ensure all procurement complies with European Community law and international legislation. This policy ensures that all works, services and goods are obtained broadly in line with the 12 principles of NI Procurement Policy, the Public Contracts Regulations and Managing Public Money (NI). A full impact assessment is recommended.

Human Resources

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Recruitment
This policy aims to ensure equality of opportunity in the process of recruitment of staff to the organisation. This policy aims to ensure that the person most suitable for the job is appointed. A full impact assessment is recommended.
Reward
This policy provides a statement of the organisation’s intent in terms of total reward in order to attract and retain high calibre staff and ensure equality of reward – the policy covers pay, allowances, pensions, annual leave, paid sick absence and special leave. There have been concerns raised over the application of starting pay policies in relation to perceived inequalities in terms of gender. In addition queries have been received regarding the width of pay scales and potential impact on different age groups. These are both the subject of ongoing discussion. A full impact assessment is recommended following the review of pay and grading.
Development
This outlines the Assembly’s policy in terms of staff development in order to attract and retain high calibre staff and ensure equality of opportunity in terms of development The policy contributes to the strategic aim of the organisation to become an employer of choice, ensuring all staff are given the skills to perform their functions. There is no evidence to suggest that there is higher or lower participation from any group. This policy was screened out.
Dignity at Work Policy
The aim of this policy is to make staff aware of the types of behaviour that might cause offence, to highlight the sources of information and assistance which are available and the procedures for dealing with inappropriate behaviour. This policy promotes a positive working environment where all staff will be free from all forms of bullying and harassment. The policy also outlines the relevant anti-discrimination legislation that applies to it. This policy was screened out.
Equal Opportunities
Statement of the Equal Opportunities Policy of the NI Assembly Commission in relation to all its practices relating to all Secretariat staff and applicants. This policy promotes positive attitudes and equality of opportunity for all Secretariat staff and applicants. This policy was screened out.
Grievance Procedure
This policy sets out the procedure for dealing with grievances. This policy replicates the policy of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and will be screened again if it is decided to have in place a specific NI Assembly procedure. This policy was screened out.

Information Systems Office

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Secretariat Staff - Policy for the Use of IT Resources
Policy and guidelines for the use of IT resources by Assembly Secretariat staff. This policy outlines the guidelines that apply to staff on the use of computers, internet and other ICT related equipment on NI Assembly business. This policy was screened out.
Non Secretariat Staff - Code of Practice (Draft)
Policy and guidelines for the use of IT Resources by non Secretariat staff. This policy defines guidelines that apply to non Secretariat staff on the use of computers, internet connection and other ICT related equipment. This policy was screened out.
Provision of ICT facilities to Members
Policy and guidelines for the use of IT resources by Assembly Members. This policy defines the central provision of ICT equipment and related services for Members. This policy was screened out.
Provision of ICT facilities to Party Support
Policy for the provision of ICT resources to party support staff. This policy defines the central provision of ICT equipment and related services for party support staff. This policy was screened out.
Corporate ICT Strategies
Policy setting the strategic direction on the use of ICT resources by the NI Assembly. This policy sets the long term vision for the exploitation of NI Assembly information and the technologies involved in its creation, manipulation and distribution. This policy was screened out.
Use of ICT during transition
Guidelines on the use of ICT resources before and after election campaign. This policy defines the use of centrally provided ICT equipment and related services before and during the period of an election. This policy was screened out.

Facilities Directorate

Name of Policy
Description of Policy
Comment
Conclusion
Health and Safety
The policy sets out how all building users should comply with current Health and Safety legislation and how the Assembly implements the policy. This policy ensures that all building users are aware of their obligations with regards to Health and Safety measures. During the screening process, it was identified that the policy did not apply to Party offices. There may be an inference in this policy that Parties are being excluded from its implementation and as such the policy will now be amended to provide the full service to Parties. This policy was screened out.
Fire Safety Policy
The policy sets out how all building users should comply with current Health and Safety legislation and how it is implemented. This policy ensures that all building users are aware of their obligations in relation to Fire Safety matters. This policy was screened out.
Security Policy
Ensures that effective security arrangements are in place to protect Members, their staff, Secretariat staff, contractors, visitors, Assembly property and assets. This policy ensures the regular review and maintenance of security equipment, guarding by appropriate means and providing guidance or training. Aspects of this policy such as the security search facility and access will be further considered in the context of the wider engagement strategy. This policy was screened out.

 

Title of Policy
NI Assembly Procurement Policy
Summary of Policy
Outlines how the Assembly Commission and Secretariat will meet their obligations to ensure all procurement complies with European Community law and international legislation
Policy Aims
To ensure that all works, services and goods are obtained in line with the principles of NI Public Procurement Policy, Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and Managing Public Money (NI).
Who devises/implements?
Head of Procurement.
Applied uniformly?
Yes.
Main Stakeholders?
Assembly Commission, Director General and Directors.
Factors?
Training, guidance and advice is available to support all users of the policy.
Interface with other bodies?
None.

 

Screening Criteria
EQIA?
Yes/No
Comments
Evidence of higher or lower participation? Evidence that different groups have different needs? Further opportunity to promote equality of opportunity? Specific issues identified in relation to the policy? Does it promote positive attitudes and encourage participation by people with disabilities?
Yes
Whilst the current procurement policy was written during suspension of the NI Assembly, the policy will be under review for some time; therefore it is difficult to impact assess the linkage to other wider policies.
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
Within all contracts there is a specific clause relating to Equality of Opportunity. The NI Assembly encourages good practice in this area and promotes positive attitudes through the use of contractual clauses that contractors shall use best endeavours in employment policies and practices and have due regard to the need to promote equality of treatment and opportunity.

 

Title of Policy
Recruitment Policy
Summary of Policy
Statement of the intent to ensure Equality of Opportunity in the process of recruitment of staff to the organisation.
Policy Aims
To promote and ensure equality of opportunity for all aspects of the recruitment process e.g. How we advertise and appoint and our probation process.
Who devises/implements?
Devising – Resources Directorate - Human Resources in consultation with Legal Services and the Commission.
Implementation – Resources Directorate - Recruitment Function.
Applied uniformly?
Yes.
Main Stakeholders?
All applicants both internal and external.
Factors?
In/effective corporate governance.
Interface with other bodies?
Ongoing consultation with Equality Commission (NI); NICS Departmental Equal Opportunity Officers and other legislatures.

 

Screening Criteria
EQIA?
Yes/No
Comments
Evidence of higher or lower participation? Evidence that different groups have different needs? Further opportunity to promote equality of opportunity? Specific issues identified in relation to the policy? Does it promote positive attitudes and encourage participation by people with disabilities?
Yes When specific NI Assembly Policies are being developed.
Practices falling under this heading are currently defined under the NI Civil Service terms and conditions, and will be until the NIAC1 can devise and approve its own policies. It is envisaged that a full EQIA will be appropriate to these policies and will be carried out at macro level.
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
The policy is applied uniformly to all potential applicants and specific arrangements are undertaken where a need has been identified. The policy is currently under review and will be picked up as part of the macro exercise of devising and screening a NIAC set of policies relating to terms and conditions and pay and grading.

1 Northern Ireland Assembly Commission

Title of Policy
Reward Policy
Summary of Policy
Statement of the Organisation’s intent in terms of total reward in order to attract and retain high calibre staff and ensure equality of reward. The policy covers pay, allowances, pensions, annual leave, paid sick absence, and special leave.
Policy Aims
To define and ensure equality of reward for all Secretariat staff, and to contribute to the strategic aim of the organisation to become an employer of choice.
Who devises/implements?
Devising – Resources Directorate - Human Resources in consultation with SMG2, Legal Services and the NIAC
Implementation – Resource Directorate – Recruitment Function, Human Resources and Finance.
Applied uniformly?
Yes.
Main Stakeholders?
All applicants both internal and external and existing Secretariat staff.
Factors?
In/effective corporate governance and not keeping pace with developments in the market place and competitor organisations.
Interface with other bodies?
Consultation with Equality Commission (NI); TUS3 and other legislatures.

2 Secretariat Management Group

3 Trade Union Side

Screening Criteria
EQIA?
Yes/No
Comments
Evidence of higher or lower participation? Evidence that different groups have different needs? Further opportunity to promote equality of opportunity? Specific issues identified in relation to the policy? Does it promote positive attitudes and encourage participation by people with disabilities?
Yes When specific NI Assembly Policies are being developed.
Practices falling under this heading were defined under the NI Civil Service terms and conditions. A revised pay policy was introduced in June 2008 until a formal pay and grading review can be finalised. It is envisaged that a full EQIA will be appropriate to these policies.
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
N/AThe policy is applied uniformly to all staff.
There have been concerns raised over the application of starting pay policies in relation to perceived inequalities in terms of gender. In addition, queries have been received regarding the width of pay scales and potential impact on different age groups. The policy is currently under review and will be picked up as part of the macro exercise of devising and screening a NIAC set of policies relating to terms and conditions and pay and grading.

 

Title of Policy
Outreach and Engagement Strategy
Summary of Policy
The Strategy will seek to improve information services and establish new initiatives for informing and involving the public of Northern Ireland.
Policy Aims
The Strategy aims to inform, educate, involve and encourage public participation in the work of the Assembly.
Who devises/implements?
Director of Engagement and NIAC.
Applied uniformly?
Yes.
Main Stakeholders?
Members, staff, Education Programme, Events, citizens of NI and international community.
Factors?

Interface with other bodies?
None.

 

Screening Criteria
EQIA?
Yes/No
Comments
Evidence of higher or lower participation? Evidence that different groups have different needs? Further opportunity to promote equality of opportunity? Specific issues identified in relation to the policy? Does it promote positive attitudes and encourage participation by people with disabilities?
Yes
The Outreach and Engagement Strategy will encompass the current Events and Education Programmes. These are the main vehicles for engagement with the public and provide for a comprehensive package of services that enable the NI Assembly Commission to directly engage with, and allow participation for, all in the workings of the Assembly.
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
This is a new policy currently being developed. The ever increasing popularity of the operations of the NI Assembly, from both citizens of NI and from the international community confirms that there is a wide range of needs that require consideration. Examples of such issues relate to languages, customs, culture, signage and access. The development of this policy will enable the NIAC to actively promote its commitment to inclusion and the development of relationships with all sections of the community. The policy will specifically consider the needs of people with disabilities and seek to address any requirements identified through consultation with interested groups.

 

Title of Policy
Good Relations Policy and Strategy
Summary of Policy

Policy Aims
Whilst the aims of the Strategy and Policy still need to be developed it will outline the Northern Ireland Assembly’s approach to the development of a welcoming and harmonious environment in which the business of the Assembly will be conducted.
Who devises/implements?
Assembly Commission Office.
Applied uniformly?
Yes.
Main Stakeholders?
Visitors, Members, Members’ staff and staff of the Secretariat.
Factors?
Significant buy-in from Members and staff will be required for the strategy and policy to be successful. Effective training programmes will also be critical to its successful implementation.
Interface with other bodies?
We will be working with a number of other organisations in the development of this policy.

 

Screening Criteria
EQIA?
Yes/No
Comments
Evidence of higher or lower participation? Evidence that different groups have different needs? Further opportunity to promote equality of opportunity? Specific issues identified in relation to the policy? Does it promote positive attitudes and encourage participation by people with disabilities?
Yes
There will be a significant amount of work entailed in developing this policy. There a number of cross-cutting issues to be considered in relation to a number of other policies which are also currently being developed such as the engagement strategy.
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Some assertions have been made that the NI Assembly premises and facilities do not present a welcoming and harmonious environment for some sections of our community. There are some assumptions made on this and further research will need to be undertaken to specifically identify the issues pertinent to this policy. The adoption of the final Strategy and Policy will enable the NIAC to initiate a programme of inclusion that is customer driven and meets the needs of all sections of our community including Members, their support staff and staff of the Secretariat. The development of this strategy will encompass elements of a number of other policies such as outreach and engagement, access, communication etc. The focus of the policy will be to adopt certain strategies that will enable full participation and use of the facilities by all sections of our community.

 

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