Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a Commissioner for Public Appointments? Does it mean that the system is unfair at the moment?

No. In fact the process has been regulated since 1995 by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Great Britain, who was appointed in response to the Nolan Committee’s recommendations for improving standards in public life.


Following devolution, on 1 June 2004 Karen Carlton was appointed as the first Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland. Stuart Allan became acting Commissioner in 2012 and then the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in July 2013 subsuming the previous public appointments role. The position is now held by Bill Thomson who was appointed in April 2014. The work done by all Commissioners has gone a long way to improving fairness and openness in public appointments, but there is still work to be done. The Commissioner, his office and the team of Assessors provide ongoing regulation of the appointments process. We deal with enquiries, provide guidance on the Code of Practice, investigate complaints and monitor appointment rounds with a view to ensuring that the Code is followed and interpreted appropriately for appointments to regulated public bodies. One of our key roles is also to encourage the Scottish Government to increase board diversity. You can read more about this on the Delivering Diversity pages of our website.