Ten questions the proposed commissioner for public appointments must answer

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Matthew Gill; Grant Dalton

September 13, 2021

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at process for public appointments.

This report sets out 10 key questions that William Shawcross, Boris Johnson’s preferred candidate for the role of commissioner for public appointments, should be asked at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) pre-appointment hearing. It says the appointments system is strained – and that the next commissioner for public appointments, the independent figure who regulates appointments by ministers to the boards of public bodies, must ensure it is reformed. The pandemic has delayed many appointments, with the usual open application process bypassed, roles filled on a temporary basis, and the process for some appointments rerun. There have also been reports of ministers pushing to appoint political allies as senior independent panel members, and accusations of ministers and advisers briefing newspapers about their preferred candidates before an appointment process has been completed. Both the current commissioner, Peter Riddell, who oversaw more than 900 new appointments and 651 re-appointments in the 2019/20 financial year, and the Committee on Standards in Public Life have expressed concern that the balance between ministerial patronage and appointment by merit is under threat.