The Executive Division provides support and guidance for all the functions of the Executive, including Executive and Ministerial business in the Assembly in particular, legislation. Executive Division also carries out the Executive Office Departmental role of supporting the First Minister and deputy First Minister and Junior Ministers in relation to all aspects of their engagement with the Assembly, including questions, committees, statements, legislation and motions.

Assembly Section

The main focus of business for Assembly Section is liaison with the Assembly on behalf of the Northern Ireland Departments.

Its principal functions are:

  • to assist the Junior Ministers in their responsibilities for arranging Executive business in the Assembly
  • to provide advice, support and training to NI Departments on Assembly Questions, Assembly Committees and on Assembly procedures in general
  • to liaise with the Department's statutory Committee and co-ordinate and monitor all Assembly Questions (AQs) directed to the Department
  • to assist Departments in presenting papers to the Assembly

Guidance on the Laying of Papers to the NI Assembly

The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance on the procedures for laying documents before the Assembly, presenting papers to it, and depositing documents in the Assembly library.

Executive Secretariat

The Executive Secretariat makes sure that the business of the Executive is carried out as efficiently and as effectively as possible. It supports the First Minister and deputy First Minister in their roles as joint Chairs of the Executive and it provides administrative and secretarial support for meetings of the Executive.

Executive Secretariat provides advice and guidance where required to Ministers and Departments on the application of the statutory Ministerial Code to their roles and responsibilities. It is also responsible for preparing guidance on a wide range of procedural matters relating to the role and conduct of Ministers.

Legislative Programme Secretariat

Functions of the Legislative Programme Secretariat

  • Preparation and monitoring of the Executive’s Primary Legislation Programme of Assembly Bills, including the provision of advice and reports to FM and dFM and the Executive
  • Maintenance of procedures and provision of advice and guidance to departments on the processing of both primary and subordinate legislation (statutory rules)
  • Monitoring Assembly Private Members Bills, Westminster legislation extending to NI in the devolved field and subordinate legislation requiring Assembly approval, liaising with departments and advising on handling
  • Provision of training on legislative procedures in conjunction with the Centre for Applied Learning
  • Taking forward cross-cutting legislation where there is no other clear lead department

You can find more information on the Executive Bills on the NI Assembly website.

Office of the Legislative Counsel (OLC)

The principal function of the Office is to draft Bills for the Northern Ireland Executive for introduction to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Office also works with Parliamentary Counsel in Whitehall to ensure the correct application to Northern Ireland of Westminster Bills.

Counsel provides advice and guidance to ministers and officials on constitutional and legislative matters and oversees the Statutory Publications Office (SPO).

Statutory Publications Office (SPO)

SPO is responsible for the registration of all Northern Ireland Statutory Rules and for publishing, indexing and updating the Northern Ireland Statute Book. It publishes annual volumes of statutes and statutory rules, together with indexes, the Chronological Table of the Statutes and Chronological Table of Statutory Rules which help the reader to find the relevant up-to-date statutory text.

The Directorate joined the UK Statute Law Database (SLD) at its launch on 20 December 2006. This made available an updated version of NI primary legislation up to 31 December 2005. SPO are updating amendments from 01 January 2006 and creating historical versions from that date. Updated legislation is available free to all legal researchers at

Machinery of Government and North South East West branches, Executive Division

Machinery of Government branch on behalf of the Executive provides a co-ordination role across the Northern Ireland Government Departments on business associated with the working and administration of devolved government including North South and East West matters.

We provide support for Ministers on a range of issues including:

  • Joint Ministerial Committee
  • British Irish Council
  • Institutional and cross-cutting North South matters
  • Acting as a central point of contact for guidance and procedures on the business of government across the administration
  • North West Gateway Initiative

The establishment of the North West Gateway Initiative (NWGI) was announced at the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference in May 2006. The NWGI was established to foster and encourage economic growth in the North West region including the Derry and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council areas.

The objective was to provide a focus for sustained cooperative action from the two Governments which, over a period of time, would make a real difference to the region. The Initiative has played an important role in providing a focus on the region and in encouraging practical co-operation from existing Departments and agencies on a North South basis in developing a range of projects.

Work is being taken forward by a group of officials, from across Departments on a cross border basis.

Election guidance for Civil Servants

UK General Election 2024

Please view the guidance via the link below:

Reform of the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is completely independent of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Northern Ireland Executive, and of the government departments and public bodies that the office can investigate. The authority of the Ombudsman is derived from a royal warrant, reporting to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Work of the Ombudsman

More information on the Ombudsman can be found on the Ombudsman website at the link below.

Review of the Offices of the Assembly Ombudsman for NI and the NI Commissioner for Complaints

The Review of the Offices of the Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Commissioner for Complaints was completed on 30 April 2004. You can access the final report documents at the links below.

Proposals for a Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Bill

The OFMDFM Committee carried out a consultation exercise between September and December 2010 on the basis of the above reports.

As a result of its deliberations the Committee agreed to bring forward legislation to establish a single office to be known as the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman combining the present offices of the Assembly Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Complaints.

The legislation will broadly cover the range of powers, responsibilities and duties contained in the two current pieces of legislation.

Further details can be found on the Assembly website at the link below.

Departmental Audit & Risk Assurance Committee

The Departmental Board has established an Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (‘the Committee’) to support the Departmental Accounting Officer and Board in their responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance, and associated assurance. 

The Terms of Reference set out the role of the Committee and the authority delegated to it, by the Executive Office (TEO) Departmental Board. You can view the Departmental Audit & Risk Assurance Committee Terms of Reference below:

More useful links

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