'Cleaner and simpler' public appointments system announced
Richard Johnstone | 21 November 2011
reform’ in public appointments has been announced, which will streamline the
process and open up the posts to a wider field.
being introduced from next April, will cut back some of the detailed processes
and rules for these ministerially appointed posts. This has shrunk the guidance
from public appointments commissioner Sir David Normington by more than 100
was tasked with drawing up the changes when he took up the post in April, said
the new ‘more proportionate’ regime would focus on ‘the principles of merit,
fairness and openness in public appointments’.
reducing the need for independent assessors to be involved in all public
appointments. This will now be required only where the commissioner judges
there to be ‘a risk of non-compliant practices or where greater public
assurance is needed’.
Bodies covered by
the rules include executive non-departmental public bodies, such as the Environment Agency, Ofsted, strategic health
authorities and NHS
MPs have called a ‘lighter touch' regime, Normington said: ‘In simple terms, I
want to see a single-minded focus from ministers and government departments on
getting the very best people into public roles, appointed from strong and
diverse fields of candidates, free of political patronage and cronyism.’
permanent secretary at both the Department for Education and Skills and the
Home Office said the ‘original justification’ for the current
degree of prescription had diminished.
‘There have been growing criticisms – from those involved in
appointments, from candidates and from some independent assessors – that the
system is now complex, bureaucratic and costly.’
A ‘cleaner and
simpler’ appointments system for the average of 800 new appointments expected
to be made by ministers every year will address ‘a perception that the focus is
now more on getting the process right than getting the right outcome’, Normington
regulatory system will require a significant change in approach. I recognise
that this will present some challenges and I will be working closely with all departments
to help them prepare for the new system,’ he added.
The announcement follows
a Commons public administration select committee report last month that welcomed
the ‘broad thrust’ of the changes.