Ministerial appointments to public bodies: training pack for independent panel members

The recruitment process for many ministerial appointees is independently regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner, requiring compliance with the Commissioner’s 2022 Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. This training pack is for independent panel members.

5. Who's who in the public appointments process?

The Scottish Ministers

The appointing Minister is ultimately responsible for fair, open and merit based public appointments. In practice much of the appointment activity is delegated to officials and to the selection panel. The final decision about who to appoint and whether to appoint is for the appointing Minister.

The Ethical Standards Commissioner

The Commissioner provides independent scrutiny of the methods and practices employed by the Scottish Ministers. The Commissioner produces a Code of Practice and Guidance to support the delivery of a fair and merit-based appointments process.

The Ethical Standards Commissioner's Representative

The Ethical Standards Commissioner may appoint a 'Public Appointments Adviser' (PAA) to sit on all or some parts of an appointment round. The role of the PAA is to provide advice on applying the provisions of the Code and on good practice in recruitment and selection. Should the need arise, the PAA will report any instances of non-compliance during the round to the Commissioner.

The Selection Panel

The selection panel normally comprises of a chair and two other members, ideally including an Independent Panel member who is not an official of the Scottish Government or the public body concerned. The selection panel assists in the design of the appointments process and assessment of the suitability of candidates for appointment.

The Selection Panel Chair

The chair represents the appointing Minister in an appointment round and takes an active role in the process. The chair is the key decision maker and is responsible for the implementation and outcome of an appointment round and ensuring that the round complies with the Code of Practice. In fulfilling this role, the chair will:

  • Make key decisions on behalf of the appointing Minister
  • Ensure that integrity and transparency is maintained throughout the process
  • Will give everyone on a selection panel an opportunity to contribute their views and ideas, but ultimately will make the final decision
  • Will approach the Commissioner where clarification of the Code is required
  • Will provide a report to the appointing Minister and the Commissioner at the end of a round (drafting of this report may be delegated to the Public Appointments Team).

The Independent Panel Member

Independent panel members sit on selection panels and provide constructive feedback and an independent viewpoint. The presence of the independent panel member is designed to engender public trust, on the basis of their autonomy and integrity. They must not hold or have recently held a position that would call in to question their ability to fulfil their role in a truly independent and impartial manner.

The Public Appointments Team

Every appointment round will be overseen by the Public Appointments Team, with most rounds allocated to a Manager from that team. Their role is to support the delivery of an effective and efficient appointment round. To do this they liaise with the Sponsor Team and/or the Board; provide support, advice and relevant information to the Chair and selection panel; co-ordinate submissions and other paperwork; and monitor and report on appointment rounds.

The Sponsor Team

The Sponsor Team provide a link to the board and liaise with the Public Appointments Team to support an efficient process. They undertake actions such as recruiting selection panel members and providing information about skills and succession planning.



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