This summary report contains the Institute for Government's recommendations to ensure new look Whitehall boards can be as effective as possible.

While new lead non-executive directors present an opportunity for improved boards, there remains some work to do to ensure they can overcome past problems.

The report finds:

  • Departments must address the lack of clarity that affects too many Whitehall boards.
  • The most significant structural reform of the new boards protocol is installing Secretaries of State as chairs of their departmental board.
  • Attendance at meetings must be consistent and chairing responsibilities must not be delegated to junior ministers. While we believe the Secretary of State should strive to attend every board meeting, the experience and independence of lead NEDs would be put to good use as deputy chairs.
  • The performance and operating of the board should be made transparent to conform to the Government's Transparency agenda.
  • Sound corporate practice in the private sector calls for annual evaluation and regular external evaluation of the board
  • Board development is essential to the success of the new regime for Whitehall boards.
  • The board secretariat function is crucial to a well functioning board.
  • Lead NEDs should be involved in the performance appraisal of ALL board members, including officials and politicians. 

A full report will be published shortly.