Government structure

The government in Scotland is structured into a number of directorates. Directorates and their related public bodies are responsible for putting government policy into practice.

The Civil Service

The Permanent Secretary is the senior civil servant in Scotland and leads the 7,000-plus people working for the Scottish Government. The Permanent Secretary supports the government in developing, implementing and communicating its policies.

The current Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government is John-Paul Marks. He is the principal policy adviser to the First Minister and Secretary to the Scottish Cabinet. He is also the principal accountable officer with responsibility to ensure that the government's money and resources are used effectively and properly.

Directors-general and directorates

There are eight directors-general who head up the Scottish civil service. A director-general manages a number of directorates and agencies which are responsible for proposing legislation and putting Scottish Government policy into practice.

Public bodies

Non-ministerial departments are headed by senior civil servants and not ministers. They usually have a regulatory or inspection function like the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Executive agencies are part of the Scottish Government and generally have a strong focus on the management and direct delivery of public services, but can also provide strategic policy input.

Executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) carry out administrative, commercial, executive or regulatory functions on behalf of government.

Advisory NDPBs provide independent expert advice to ministers and others or input into the policy-making process in relation to particular subjects.

Tribunals are responsible for tasks and advice relating to specialist areas of the law and carry out judicial functions such as determining the rights and obligations of private citizens, although they are not part of the court system.

Public corporations are industrial or commercial enterprises under direct government control.

Health bodies comprise 14 regional health boards, eight special health boards and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

There are 32 local authorities (councils) in Scotland.

Find out more about public bodies in Scotland.

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