Sponsored Bodies Survey– Review to determine the most effective and efficient DfE sponsorship model

Closed 10 Nov 2021

Opened 4 Oct 2021



The Department for the Economy (DfE) has commissioned a substantial change programme that will enable DfE to become the agile, refocused, cohesive organisation that will be needed to support the Northern Ireland economy over the next decade and beyond. The overarching objective of the Organisational Development and Transformation (ODT) Programme is ‘to ensure that, by March 2024, the Department for the Economy and its people are empowered and equipped to work effectively and collaboratively in support of the shared vision for the NI Economy’. 

As part of this ODT Programme, a commitment has been made to review the way in which DfE partners with its Sponsored Bodies to ensure a focus on the delivery of the 10X Economic Vision and a consistent and joined up approach.

The overall objective of this review is to determine the most effective and efficient DfE sponsorship model to ensure focus on delivery of the Departmental vision.

This survey aims to obtain your views on the current DfE sponsorship model and potential areas for improvement.


Why your views matter

Current Sponsorship Model

Throughout this survey the term ‘Sponsored Body’ refers to ‘A Body which is not part of a government Department, but carries out the majority of its functions to a greater or lesser extent at “Arm’s Length” from the “parent” government Department that acts as its sponsor’.

The full portfolio of sponsorship responsibility for specific Sponsored Bodies is allocated to Divisions within DfE, acting as multi-disciplinary Sponsor Teams, as opposed to one centralised management unit.  

The current make-up of individual Sponsor Teams varies depending on the types of Bodies being sponsored. Heads of Sponsoring Divisions normally act as Senior Sponsors for the Sponsored Bodies under their purview and are ultimately responsible for effectively discharging all of the sponsorship responsibilities assigned to them and their Sponsor Teams, including in areas of policy, finance and governance. 

Sponsor Teams serve as the primary source of advice to the Minister and Accounting Officer on matters relating to their Sponsored Bodies. Central governance and finance teams play largely an advisory role in helping Sponsor Teams discharge these functions.

Management Statements and Financial Memorandums (MSFM’s) are in place with Sponsored Bodies. MSFMs set out a clear framework for strategic control within which the Sponsored Body should operate. MSFM’s are currently being replaced by Partnership Agreements which focus on assessed risk and proportional autonomy of Sponsored Bodies.

What happens next

Thank you for completing the survey. Responses will now be collated and analysed to inform a report. The report will summarise the findings of this review and provide recommendations on the delivery of the most effective and efficient DfE sponsorship model. In certain circumstances we may wish to contact you for clarification or expansion depending on the information you have provided in your response.

We would appreciate your assistance in accommodating any request to participate in a follow up interview or focus group, provisionally scheduled to take between 4th and 24th November 2021.


  • All stakeholders


  • Quality Improvement