Monitoring Delegated Authority

A Management Committee/Board can delegate authority for a task but not responsibility.  They will still be held ultimately accountable for any decisions or actions taken.  They must therefore set up appropriate systems to monitor the use of delegated authority.

The mechanisms used may be slightly different depending on whether it is staff, Honorary Officers or sub committees to whom the authority has been delegated.  These mechanisms reflect the need for the committee to remain in control of the organisation and its activity and to ensure sufficiently robust accountability mechanisms are in place.  They also allow sufficient opportunity to ensure that individuals or groups exercising delegated authority have the skills they need to do this effectively.

Monitoring the delegation of authority to staff 

This should be done through the organisation's policies and procedures such as: financial controls; operational planning and reporting; staff support and supervision.

The management committee are responsible for:

  • Ensuring these policies and procedures are in place and approving their content.  In small organisations, they may be required to develop the policies themselves.  More on policy development.
  • Receiving and scrutinising regular reports against these policies and procedures.  This is generally done through the most senior member of staff, however on occasions other staff may give reports directly to the Committee on specific pieces of work.  
  • Direct management of the most senior staff member.  Often the Chairperson carries out this support and supervision, but it remains the responsibility of all committee members.  More on managing the senior staff member.

Monitoring the delegation of authority to sub committees 

The terms of reference of a sub committee should set clear requirements about the limits of authority and reporting back to the main committee.  The committee should receive written reports about the work of the sub committee and consider these at its full meeting.

Monitoring the delegation to Honorary Officers 

Honorary Officers should report to the committee at the next available opportunity about their use of delegated authority.  This should then be considered and recorded in the minutes of the full committee.

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