As the Deputy is aware in 2011 the Government introduced new arrangements for the appointment of State board members. Under the new arrangements Departments now invite expressions of interest from the public in vacancies on the boards of bodies under their aegis on their websites. It is open to all members of the public regardless of gender, political affiliations or location to apply for appointment to these vacancies. I am satisfied that the new arrangements introduced by the Government in 2011 have significantly improved transparency in the making of appointments to State Boards compared with the making of appointments in previous years.
A new website portal, www.stateboards.ie, created by the Public Appointments Service is offering a single dedicated point of contact to all Government Departments as a support to existing Board member selection procedures. This portal facilitates:
- The advertising of opportunities to express an interest in state board vacancies and the terms and conditions pertaining to same;
- The registration by prospective Board members of their general interest in a position on a state board;
- The sending of alerts to those registered on www.stateboards.ie (and formerly on publicjobs.ie) of state board vacancies as and when they arise.
There may have been a different ethos in the public sector compared to the private sector a few years ago but large changes have been made in the public sector in recent times leading to very similar fundamental values now. I agree that there may still be a need for a more proactive approach in attracting expressions of interest but I think the public is beginning to realise now how much the public service has changed which will hopefully alter any negative perceptions of the public sector as an employer in the future. The work expected of a candidate would be very challenging and the remuneration package would reflect this. Being previously employed in the public sector does not gain any advantages for a candidate.
Persons being proposed for appointment as chairpersons of State Bodies/Agencies may be required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas committee to discuss the approach which they will take to their role as chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the body or Board in question and, following that discussion, decisions will be taken by either the Government or myself, as appropriate, to confirm the nominee as chairperson.
Since the formation of this Government 22 members have been nominated to the two State Boards under my remit. In view of the statutory procedures for the appointment of members of the Public Appointments Service, there is limited scope for me to make such appointments.