• PAS has overseen campaigns for 192 State Boards, seeking to fill 582 vacancies;
  • Significant improvement in the appointment of female candidates to State Boards, increasing from 45% in 2015 to 52% in 2017;
  • Women now make up around 40% of all membership of State Boards.

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Friday) published a report by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on the implementation of the State Board appointment process.

During 2014, significant changes were made by the then-Government to the process of State board appointments, which had the broad objectives of:

  • providing access to State board opportunities to as wide a pool of candidates as possible;
  • strengthening the performance of State boards by identifying and securing high-quality membership; and
  • attaining a high level of transparency in the selection and appointment of board members by Ministers.

Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards were issued in November 2014, setting out details of how the revised process was to work in practice. Key elements to the revised process, which underpin its robustness and transparency, were the publication on www.stateboards.ie of a clear and detailed specification of the particular requirements for vacant roles on State Boards; and the operation by PAS of an independent, expert, rigorous and transparent system of assessment.

Minister Donohoe asked PAS to prepare a report on the implementation of the guidelines since their introduction, and this report, published today, underlines a positive and widespread welcome for the new process and a clear willingness from applicants, many of whom already have other demanding commitments, to assist in the process.

Before the new process began, it was difficult to estimate the level of activity that would arise. The facts show that since the process began, PAS has overseen campaigns for 192 State Boards, seeking to fill 582 vacancies. On average there are 14 applications per vacancy and 3 names proposed to Ministers for each vacancy.

A particular success of the new process has been the steady progress being made on increasing female participation on State Boards. The proportion of female applicants is increasing and last year accounted for 35% of applications. There has also been significant improvement in the appointment of female candidates increasing from 45% in 2015 to 52% in 2017, with women now making up around 40% of all membership.

The report found that on average, there are, each year:

  • 65 campaigns advertising 240 vacancies
  • Around 200 vacancies filled
  • 14 applications per vacancy
  • 3 proposed names to Ministers

An analysis of a selection (50) of recent campaigns shows that 48% of names submitted to Ministers in 2017 were from private sector candidates, 50% were public sector and 2% were from non-profit/charity organisations.

Furthermore, in October 2014, the website Stateboards.ie had 2,096 registered users and today there are currently 6,429 registered for alerts on new campaigns.

Speaking today, Minister Donohoe welcomed this increased level of participation by women and said: ‘I continue to encourage all my Ministerial colleagues and their Departments to persist in the efforts to increase the number of applications from women through awareness-raising among the relevant sectors’.

The report concludes that PAS is confident that by engaging a wide pool of participants on assessment panels, the basis for enhancing public confidence in the transparency and the validity of the process has increased. This also achieves the core outcome of strengthening the performance of State Boards through the appointment of people with relevant experience and demonstrable competence.

Positive feedback has also been received on the efficiency and effectiveness of the specification and assessment process from Government Departments. In particular, there is widespread general satisfaction with the quality and calibre of the names proffered by PAS for consideration for appointment.

Minister Donohoe continued: ‘At the time of the launch of the Guidelines, it was said, by my predecessor, that the new process was “a sea change in the way people are appointed to State Boards” and that “it takes the randomness out of it, professionalises it and it makes it much more open.”

“It is clear that the new process has done just that. I believe that PAS is to be commended for their work which will now continue, while Ministers and Departments take the time to reflect on the measures proposed which will further improve the process.”

The Report is available here.

For further information on the State Board Appointment process, see http://www.stateboards.ie/stateboards/home.htm

Notes to Editors:

The Institute of Directors published a research report in 2015 on State Boards in Ireland. The research was carried out only a year after the introduction of the new Guidelines and already the IOD members surveyed reported a positive improvement in the perception of fairness and transparency in the appointments process. The research shows a ‘seismic shift in attitudes’ since 2012 when 26% reported satisfaction with the fairness and transparency of the process compared to 2015 where the report showed 70% satisfaction.

Merc Partners Survey of Executive Expectations 2016 reported that when respondents were asked if they would be willing to serve as a non-executive director on the board of a state agency, over 3 in 4 (79%) were open to the idea, with 54% being very willing.