22 May 2006 11:15 AM

Agency Chief Executives (ACE), whose members employ three quarters of all civil servants, has formed the ACE Association. Its objectives are to stimulate effective delivery; to be a collective voice to other parts of Government on topics of mutual interest; to support greater knowledge exchange, networking and peer learning between members; to promote diversity and to encourage best practice in financial management, corporate governance and efficiency.

With this move comes the announcement that ACE will in future have its secretariat co-ordinated by SOLACE, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers. This task has been carried out by the Chief Executives themselves for the last three years, during the start-up phase of ACE.

The new ACE Association is an inclusive organisation open to all Chief Executives and their direct reports who work for Civil Service bodies focusing on operational delivery in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will include all Trading Funds, Executive Agencies, and Non-departmental Public Bodies.

One of the main tasks is to organise the annual ACE conference which has grown since its inaugural event at Sunningdale Park in November 2004. Delegates at that time identified a common delivery agenda for Trading Funds, Executive Agencies and Non-departmental Public Bodies and they also identified scope for a more formal networking role. Over the following twelve months this agenda developed with closer working relationships forged across the membership. The November 2005 conference was very well attended by Chief Executives and included speeches from the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell.

Sir Gus says: “Top quality leadership in operational delivery organisations can make a real and positive difference to people’s lives. The move to the ACE Association marks an important development in the support Chief Executives have in their demanding roles. I am particularly grateful to Vanessa Lawrence and her Chief Executive colleagues on the ACE Executive Steering Group for their commitment and valuable contributions to the success of ACE, and to SOLACE for taking on the secretariat role.”

Vanessa Lawrence, Ordnance Survey’s Director General and Chief Executive, will continue to chair the ACE Executive Steering Group until the new Executive Steering Group is elected by members at this year’s conference being held on 29-30 November 2006. She comments: “I am delighted that the interest in being part of ACE has grown so substantially that today we are able to launch the ACE Association. Up to now, ACE has been organised by a small group of Chief Executives and we have seen over the last three years a growing interest from colleagues to work closer together across the service delivery parts of Government and with others from the wider public service. We have learnt so much from each other and we are all delighted that the secretariat for the ACE Association will be run by the very professional group from SOLACE.”

SOLACE Chief Executive, David Clark, says: “We in SOLACE welcome the formation of this new organisation. We look forward to working alongside ACE to deliver our shared commitment to excellence in public service.”

Notes for editors

1. The current ACE Executive Steering Group for 2006 is:

Vanessa Lawrence, Director General and Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey (Chair) Hugh Barrett, Chief Executive, Clive Bennett, Chief Executive, DVLA and representing the interests of Welsh members Stan Brown, Acting Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland and representing the interests of Northern Ireland members Peter Collis, Chief Executive, Land Registry Jane Earl, Director, Assets Recovery Agency Eleanor Emberson, Chief Executive, Scottish Court Service and representing the interests of Scottish members Desmond Flynn, Chief Executive, Insolvency Service Vincent Gaskell, Chief Executive, Criminal Records Bureau Jim Lynch, Chief Executive, Forest Research Archie Robertson, Chief Executive, The Highways Agency Katrine Sporle, Chief Executive, Planning Inspectorate

2. SOLACE is the membership organisation of senior managers within the public sector ( It includes SOLACE Enterprises, a management consultancy working in the public and private sectors (, and SOLACE Foundation, which carries out educational and charity work ( A further group, the SOLACE Foundation Imprint (SFI), has been created to support and incentivise writing, reflection and research on key issues affecting public services and local government (