At the earliest opportunity, departments should provide new board members with an introductory briefing on the Crown entity environment and the expectations of Ministers. They also should consider covering:
- the role of boards in the State sector context; ensuring compliance with the law, and with accountability documents and relevant Crown expectations
- the strategic direction for the sector and the entity itself, and any areas of particular sensitivity or high risk
- the various planning and public accountability processes
- the ongoing management of any perceived, actual or potential conflicts, and the board's policies towards receiving and offering gifts and hospitality
- the individual roles and duties of board members
- the collective duties of board members
- the need for board members to recognise that they should not let advocacy of particular interests override or undermine their governance responsibilities or duties as members
- the roles of and relationships between the key offices and agencies
- maintaining appropriate relationships with Ministers, Parliament, the monitoring department and the public
- liability for and protection from legal proceedings.
An effective induction programme will include:
- a meeting with the Minister at his/her discretion
- meetings with the board chair to discuss board protocols and the board governance manual
- meetings with the chief executive and staff for operational familiarisation
- comprehensive information on the activities of the board or body and the organisation concerned, an outline of the sector, the wider implications of operating within the State Services, and the nature and key points of the key documents such as the Crown Entities Act, any specific enabling legislation, the Output Agreement and/or Memorandum of Understanding and/or the Statement of Intent, or Deeds of Trust
- current budget, recent annual reports and board minutes, all relevant legislation, planning documents (e.g. Statement of Intent), key challenges and issues, the role of central agencies, delegated authorities, policies on disclosing interests and declaring gifts, meeting timetable and venues, staff structure
- the key relationships affecting the successful performance of the board
- the impact on the operations of the board and the entity of provisions such as the Official Information Act 1982, and the obligations and protections relating to appearance by staff or board members before a Parliamentary Select Committee (publicservice.govt.nz/officials-and-select-committees-2007)
- a tour of relevant facilities, if appropriate.
Some departments take a combined approach with workshops or seminars for new appointees from a range of boards for which their Ministers are responsible; this can help to underline the importance of a sector-wide approach.
Existing board members also could be invited. Development workshops offered by the board, monitoring department, central agencies or an external body, may be other useful steps to assist new members, together with the use of formal or informal mentors. 7