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'Public appointments rules need to be simplified' Sir David Normington, Commissioner for Public Appointments

'Public appointments rules need to be simplified' Sir David Normington, Commissioner for Public Appointments

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 28 June 2011

Issued by the News Distribution Service on behalf of The Commissioner for Public Appointments

Sir David Normington, the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments, today launched a consultation on the way Ministerial appointments to public bodies are regulated.

The consultation, which will run until September, sets out proposals for reform which aim to simplify the current regulatory system and encourage wider fields of applicants.

Sir David said:

"Public bodies spend over £30 billion each year and are responsible for many issues that directly affect the safety, protection and well being of the public. It is important to our economy and wider public life that Ministers are able to appoint the very best people - selected on merit after a fair and open process - to these posts and that the public can have confidence that cronyism and political patronage have not played a part.

"The gains made in the last fifteen years in these areas must be protected and built upon. But there is also dissatisfaction with the complexity of the processes which have developed for regulating these appointments with a perception that the focus is on getting the process right rather than getting the best outcome.

"Having spoken to large numbers of those involved in public appointments since I took up post in April, I am clear that the regulatory system is now ready for a major overhaul to return it to something clearer, simpler and more focused on the basic job of getting the best candidates from a strong and diverse field."

Sir David continued:

"The proposals in my consultation document represent a significant shift in the approach to public appointments regulation. The new system would be founded on three simple principles: merit, fairness and openness. It would be simpler, stripped of all but the essential processes required to uphold the principles. And it would be risk based, focussing oversight where the risks are greatest.

"Such a shift places responsibility more firmly with Government Departments, who will be held accountable for making successful appointments. This will require some significant improvements in their capability. The consultation includes a challenge to them to up their game and proposes a centre of excellence to promote best practice and widen the pool of suitable applicants. It argues for all Ministerial appointments to permanent public bodies and statutory office to be regulated and calls on Departments to justify why any such appointments should not be made on merit after a fair and open process.

"I have three simple aims. I want to protect and build upon the progress since the original Nolan report in reducing patronage and cronyism. I want the public and Parliament to have confidence that the fundamental principles of merit, fairness and openness are being upheld. Above all I want everyone focussed on how we get strong and diverse fields from which the best candidates are appointed. I hope this consultation paper will start an active and lively debate about how this is achieved and I would like to hear from anyone who has something to say."

To download a copy of the consultation document or to find out more about the work of the Commissioner for Public Appointments go to:

Notes to Editors 1. Media enquiries about the work of the Commissioner for Public Appointments should go to Maggie O'Boyle on 07880 740627

2. Sir David Normington was appointed Commissioner for Public Appointments for England and Wales and 1st Civil Service Commissioner on 1 April 2011.

3. The post of Commissioner for Public Appointments was created in 1995 following a report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Lord Nolan.

4. The Commissioner for Public Appointments regulates the processes by which Ministers (including Welsh Assembly Government Ministers) make appointments to the boards of national and regional public bodies. He also currently regulates appointments processes in relation to some bodies in Northern Ireland. For more information about the Commissioner's remit go to:


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept

Maggie O'Boyle
Phone: 0207 276 2594
Mobile: 07880 740627

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