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Draft Programme for Government 2016-21

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Download the Report on the Executive’s Draft Programme for Government 2016-21

This report is the property of the Committee for the Executive Office. Neither the report nor its contents should be disclosed to any person unless such disclosure is authorised by the Committee.

Ordered by the Committee for the Executive Office to be printed 07 December 2016

Report: NIA 14/16-21 Committee for the Executive Office


The Committee for the Executive Office has the lead in co-ordinating the responses of Assembly statutory committees to the draft Programme for Government (PfG). The PfG Consultation Document was published by the First Minister and deputy First Minister on 28 October 2016. This is the second phase of consultation following the publication of the draft PfG Framework earlier in the year and will run until 23 December.

The stated purpose of the PfG Framework is to “Improve wellbeing for all – by tackling disadvantage, and driving economic growth”. It moves from focusing on inputs and outputs to focus on the outcomes that the Executive wishes to achieve. These are:

  • We prosper through a strong, competitive, regionally balanced economy
  • We live and work sustainably — protecting the environment
  • We have a more equal society
  • We enjoy long, healthy, active lives
  • We are an innovative, creative society, where people can fulfil their potential
  • We have more people working in better jobs
  • We have a safe community where we respect the law, and each other
  • We care for others and we help those in need
  • We are a shared society that respects diversity
  • We are a confident, welcoming, outward-looking society
  • We have high quality public services
  • We have created a place where people want to live and work, to visit and invest
  • We connect people and opportunities through our infrastructure
  • We give our children and young people the best start in life

Each of the 14 high level strategic outcomes is supported by a range of indicators to help measure progress towards the achievement of the outcomes. Delivery plans will be developed for each indicator, with indicators grouped where appropriate, and draft delivery plans form part of the consultation.

The consultation on the PfG Framework noted the intention to “finalise and agree the Programme for Government, the Budget, a refreshed Economic Strategy, a new Investment Strategy and a Social Strategy by the end of 2016”. However, the PfG consultation document notes that work is ongoing to develop these strategies.

This report sets out the Committee for the Executive Office’s consideration of the outcomes-based approach (OBA) to the Programme for Government. The views of statutory Assembly committees are included in the appendices to the report.

Summary of Findings and Recommendations

  1. The Committee urges Executive Ministers to give full consideration to the views of their respective Assembly Committee. 
  2. The Committee notes that there has been widespread support for the outcomes-based approach taken by the Executive for the 2016-21 Programme for Government.
  3. The Committee welcomes the assurance that consideration will be given to the responses to the consultation. The Committee recommends that, where concerns have been raised, the final Programme for Government clearly sets out how specific sectors will be accommodated.
  4. The Committee welcomes the outcomes-based approach to the Programme for Government and the 14 high level outcomes set out. While acknowledging that some concerns have been raised, it is clear to the Committee that the outcomes-based approach has been widely welcomed and there is genuine enthusiasm across sectors to engage in the process.
  5. The Committee recognises that the move to outcomes-based accountability will present a further challenge for the NI Civil Service but is heartened that all evidence it has heard suggests that officials in government departments will rise to that challenge. 
  6. The Committee welcomes confirmation from Executive Office officials that a website will be set up to report publicly on progress against the indicators on a regular basis.
  7. The Committee recommends that the Executive Office examines the use of data visualisation techniques to ensure that information is presented in an easy-to-understand and informative format that is accessible to all.
  8. The Committee commits to taking the lead in bringing forward recommendations on how to best achieve joined-up scrutiny of the Programme for Government. In doing so, the Committee will be mindful of the need not only to scrutinise but to actively contribute to the continuous improvement process. The Committee welcomes the First Minister’s and deputy First Minister’s commitment to work with the Committee and the Assembly to come to a determination as to how this can best be done.
  9. The Committee asks that its role in leading on the Programme for Government on behalf of the Assembly is recognised in this process.
  10. The Committee recommends that the Executive leads an annual take note debate on progress against the indicators and delivery of the high level outcomes.
  11. The Committee recognises that it is early in the new process and a one-year budget is unlikely to be completely aligned to the Programme for Government. The Committee considers it important, however, that the Programme for Government priorities are reflected in future budgets and recommends that the Executive moves to do so at the earliest opportunity.
  12. The Committee recommends that statutory committees give full consideration to alignment with Programme for Government priorities in their examination of departmental budgets and monitoring rounds. 


 Minutes of Proceedings can be viewed here

 Minutes of Evidence can be viewed here

 Statutory Committee responses can be viewed here

 Stakeholder responses can be viewed here

 Research Papers can be viewed here

Printable full Report

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