NERC Assurance Board - Terms of reference

Purpose

  1. The purpose of the NERC Assurance Board (NAB) is to provide assurance and challenge to the Executive Chair that NERC:
    1. is not exposed to unacceptable or unknown risk
    2. is operating in line with its legal obligations
    3. is operating in line with obligations which flow from Managing Public Money
    4. is operating within its delegated powers
    5. is financially stable - able to meet its obligations over time, within the resources available, or likely to be available
    6. has in place proper processes of allocation and evaluation for all funding streams
    7. has a satisfactory internal control framework
    8. is able to provide meet any other assurance requirements of either the Executive Chair or UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) / Business Energy & Industrial Strategy.
  2. It will also provide UKRI and the UKRI Audit, Risk, Assurance & Performance Committee (ARAPC) with assurance that NERC has robust assurance processes and procedures that they can rely on, whilst not replicating the responsibilities of ARAPC.

Scope

  1. Given the purpose, the scope covers the entire remit of NERC activities.
  2. The board will receive feedback from and place reliance on the workings of a Centre Assurance Board in respect of each research centre, enabling its primary focus to be on head office.
  3. It's detailed scope will include review and challenge of:
    1. the Transformation Programme
    2. NERC stewardship returns to UKRI
    3. head office centre activity & resource plans (Programme Resource, OpEx and Capital)
    4. NERC's top risk register and risk management arrangements
    5. NERC's annual statement of research integrity
    6. quarterly health & safety reporting to UKRI
    7. UKRI internal audit reports specifically relating to NERC
    8. UKRI funding assurance reports in relation to NERC research centres
    9. NERC's capital project delivery assurance returns to UKRI
    10. NERC's staff survey and people action plan.

Membership and ways of working

  1. The NAB will be chaired by the NERC Council Senior Independent Member (SIM)
  2. Membership will comprise of the Chair and NERC's Non-Executive Directors
  3. The NERC Executive Chair and the NERC corporate directors will attend. Additional NERC officers will be invited to attend as required.
  4. NAB meetings will be held bi-annually either before or after a NERC Management Board meeting, and will take place after the Centre Assurance Boards, but prior to the mid-term and annual stewardship return.
  5. A minimum of two members will be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate.
  6. Conflicts of interest will be declared, according to NERC practice, although the nature of NAB business is unlikely to require members to leave the room.
  7. NAB will report via the NERC Executive Chair to NERC Council.
  8. NAB will be subject to an effectiveness review on a regular basis.
  9. NAB will be supported by a secretariat.
  10. The NAB Chair will be responsible for agreeing the agendas and minutes of the meeting.