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.

6. Stages in the Public Appointments Process

In most cases the public appointments process progresses through the following stages:

i. Succession planning and public body engagement Before a round begins the Sponsor Teams and Board ensure that succession planning is up to date and well informed.

ii. Early engagement This stage includes any early planning discussions about the board's operational context and succession planning. This may be managed in a meeting or in an exchange of information between the Sponsor Team, Public Appointments Team, Commissioner's representative (PAA) and the selection panel members. Clarity on the board's needs informs the further steps in the appointment process.

iii. Agreement from the appointing Minister to proceed The Public Appointments Team provide a Ministerial submission seeking the Minister's views about the outcome for the round and agreement to delegate key aspects of the appointment process e.g. agreeing the selection panel, delegating the fit and proper person tests.

iv. Planning Ministerial views will be fed in to the selection panel discussions. The panel will develop the appointment plan, and this will be signed off by the panel chair. Detailed discussion is likely to be required in order to finalise the detail of the criteria in such a way as to reflect the Minister's wishes, and other aspects of the appointment plan. Once the plan has been finalised, it cannot be amended without reference to the Commissioner and this is therefore a critical part of the process. Getting it right will allow the rest of the process to proceed smoothly.

v. The appointment plan The selection panel will discuss the appointment plan and give their advice and views about:

  • The role description
  • The person specification and criteria for selection. These criteria may be 'priority' or 'general'. The Core Skills Framework will be a useful resource for setting the criteria (see appendix A).
  • The attraction strategy
  • Positive action measures
  • Application and assessment methods
  • Delegation of assessment (optional)
  • Timetable for key dates in the appointment round

It is open to panels to select the forms of assessment they feel enables them to identify the most able applicant for the role in a fair and transparent way. Panels are encouraged to be innovative in designing application and assessment processes, and seek out alternative methods in order to secure the best possible outcome for the board. Assessment methods should always be appropriate to assess the criteria for selection.

In all cases, when considering alternative methods of assessment, panels should consider the validity of any method chosen. Information on types of validity is included in the statutory guidance on the Code and in the ESC's guidance on different assessment methods.

Once set, the appointment plan, including criteria, cannot be changed at any later stage in the appointment process. If a change to the plan is required in order to secure a successful outcome, the Commissioner can be approached for a view.

vi. Advertising The vacancy is advertised on the vacancies section of the public appointments website and across a range of social media. There may also be outreach events or specialised advertising that focuses on attracting interest from people with protected characteristics and diverse backgrounds.

vii. Shortlisting of applications The panel will review all applications. This will usually be done at a meeting, but can be done by correspondence. If there is an exceptional number of applications, it may be agreed that a prior sift (longlist) is undertaken, to remove those applications which clearly do not meet the criteria being tested.

viii. Assessment During the assessment the selection panel are required to create a summary of their assessment from all stages of the process. The Public Appointments Team will support the chair to finalise a candidate summary which will be provided to the Minister. The content of these summaries is a decision for the chair.

ix. Recommendation to Minister The appointing Minister will review the evidence presented on the recommended candidates and make a decision. They may choose to meet the candidates prior to making their final decision.

x. Notification and announcement The candidates chosen by the Minister are notified and asked to complete pre appointment checks and required paperwork. Their appointment is announced on the announcements section of the public appointments website.



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