A public appointment, the role of the Commissioner was created in 1995 following the First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life under the chairmanship of Lord Nolan. The Commissioner is an independent office-holder, appointed by Her Majesty The Queen.
As the independent regulator of public appointments made by ministers in the UK and Welsh governments, the Commissioner’s statutory functions are set out in the Public Appointments Order in Council 2019. The Order in Council also sets out those bodies and posts that are within the Commissioner’s regulatory remit. The Commissioner’s primary role is to provide independent assurance that public appointments are made in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments, including the Principles of Public Appointments.
The new Commissioner will need to work closely with a number of stakeholders including (but not limited to) UK and Welsh Government Ministers, Chairs of public bodies, senior officials/accounting officers in departments and officials in the Cabinet Office’s Public Appointments Policy team.
The Order in Council provides for a Governance Code, which sets out the principles and process for how appointments by ministers to the bodies and offices listed in the schedules must be made, and an independent Commissioner who regulates the process.
The functions of the Commissioner are set out in the Order in Council and further detail on their responsibilities are set out in the Governance Code. The Commissioner:
- Must ensure that appointing authorities (ministers) act in accordance with the Governance Code;
- Must carry out an audit of the procedures and practices followed by appointing authorities;
- May conduct investigations into any aspect of public appointments with the object of improving their quality;
- May conduct an inquiry into the procedures and practices followed by an appointing authority in relation to any public appointment whether in response to a complaint or otherwise;
- May require appointing authorities to publish specified summary information relating to public appointments; and
- Must publish an annual report on public appointments which must include:
- information arising from the audit carried out under article 4(2), including information about non-compliance; and
- an account of any inquiry into the public appointment procedures and practices of appointing authorities.
In addition to the above, the Commissioner should be an active advocate for diversity and work with departments and the Cabinet Office’s Public Appointments Policy team in encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider applying for a public appointment.
All candidates must demonstrate, in their CV and supporting letter, how they meet the selection criteria for the post, through their knowledge, skills and experience.
Candidates should be able to demonstrate the following essential selection criteria:
- Personal credibility and integrity, and the ability to command the confidence of Ministers, senior officials, Parliament and the public;
- The ability to lead and to engage effectively with varied and high profile stakeholders;
- Excellent judgement and the ability to assimilate a range of evidence and perspectives;
- An understanding of operating in a regulatory regime; and
- Experience or an understanding of governance in the private, public or voluntary sectors.
- An understanding or experience of being involved in senior recruitment.
For this post, a person cannot be appointed if he or she is employed in the civil service of the state, has unspent criminal convictions, is subject to bankruptcy, or disqualification as a company director. There must be no employment restrictions, or limit on your permitted stay in the UK.
The Commissioner is required to be – and be seen to be – independent, objective and free from political or other influence. Applicants will therefore need to declare any possible conflict of interest that they may have as a result of their own or a close family member’s interests and any political activity. Possible conflicts of interest may be tested at interview.