Publication - Factsheet

About public appointments

Published: 6 Feb 2020
People Directorate
Part of:
Public sector

A public appointment is, typically, a Ministerial appointment to the Board of a public body.

6 Feb 2020
About public appointments

What is a public appointment?

 A public appointment is, typically, a Ministerial appointment to the Board of a public body.

Public bodies deliver the priorities of Ministers or the Scottish Parliament, through the delivery or scrutiny of services or by providing impartial, expert advice on a specific topic.

Information on Scotland’s public bodies can be found in the National Public Bodies Directory.

What do public appointees do?

The role of a public appointee will vary between boards, generally they may be asked to:

  • provide direction and leadership - setting the public body’s strategy and agreeing business plans to deliver that strategy
  • hold senior staff and managers to account on how the body is managed, how business plans are delivered and how the budget is spent
  • attend Board meetings on a regular basis, being well prepared by reading relevant papers in advance
  • represent the work of the organisation to key stakeholders and the wider public
  • work with partner organisations.

Public appointees do not become involved in the day-to-day running of the public body. This is the role of the Chief Executive and their management team. For more information about being a Board member, see 'On Board - A guide for members of statutory Boards'. 

How are public appointments made?

The Public Appointments Team oversees the regulated public appointments process for Ministers. The Public Appointments Team follow the Ethical Standards Commissioner Code of Practice.

Details about each vacancy is posted on this website. All vacancies posted will have an applicant’s pack which provides detailed information about the role, the selection criteria, the time commitment, whether the appointment is remunerated and closing date for applications.

Equality and Diversity

Scottish Ministers particularly welcome applications from people from protected groups, including women, disabled people, those from minority ethnic communities and people aged under 50.  

If you are disabled and require a reasonable adjustment at any stage of the public appointments process please get in touch with the Public Appointments Team Freephone 0300 244 1898 or email .

The Ethical Standards Commissioner publishes details about the diversity of public appointees. 

What is the role of the Ethical Standards Commissioner?

The Ethical Standards Commissioner and her team work within her remit to encourage fairness, good conduct and transparency in public life in Scotland.  The Commissioner regulates and monitors the system used to appoint board members and her team play a key role in ensuring that appointments are made on merit, using methods that are fair and open and reflect the diversity of Scottish society today. The Commissioner publishes a Code of Practice to guide the public appointments process.