There are a range of board documents. The key documents are described below.
The annual report
The board’s annual report outlines the activities that have taken place during the previous year and provides an outlook for the future. These are very important documents that can be an important vehicle for fulfilling a board’s duty to be accountable and transparent and can also offer the chance to showcase the efficiency and effectiveness of the board, as reflected in the past year’s achievements and milestones.
Annual reports vary greatly depending on the style and the responsibilities of particular boards. They may be freely available to the public or produced just for internal and government reporting purposes.
The operations and procedures of all state sector Government boards will be governed by rules or laws of some kind and it is important for board members to have read and understood these documents.
Meeting rules can include items setting out how often the board has to meet, how the board should deal with a tied vote, how and under what circumstances a special meeting can be held, minimum attendance requirements for members – some boards have even introduced rules to restrict members’ contributions to a certain number of minutes.
Along with the rules and laws governing their operations, boards will often have a set of policy documents to guide board members in their conduct and decision-making. The number and type of policies will differ from board to board. All board members should have a copy of each of these policies and should ensure they are familiar with their content.
Financial accountability requires that all transactions are recorded, all payments authorised and that the board does not authorise the expenditure of more money than it can afford.
The board’s financial documents should allow members to have on hand at any given moment what is owned, how much money is on hand and what needs to be paid. Board members should become familiar with all financial documents as financial accountability is one of the board’s most important areas of supervision.
There are a range of insurance policies regularly taken out by boards. Among the more common are policies that provide:
- public liability insurance (to protect against negligence claims against the organisation)
- directors’ liability insurance (to protect individuals against negligence claims).
The higher the risk, the more insurance you and your board will require.
The board should have on hand details of what insurance it holds for its board members, how much coverage is provided and for how long they will be covered. You should read the policies and familiarise yourself with the language they use. If in doubt, get someone who knows to explain it to you.