CT310: Principles of working in the public sector (optional)
The organisation of Central Government is separated into separate government departments. Most government departments are headed by a secretary of state or other senior minister and the structure of these departments tends to reflect what functions the minister has to oversee. Some departments are known as ‘non-ministerial’ which means they are not headed directly by a minister, but rather by a board answerable to Parliament.
Examples of ministerial departments are:
Food Standards Agency
HM Revenue & Customs
Office of Fair Trading.
Examples of non-ministerial departments are:
Department of Health
Ministry of Defence
A department usually has executive agencies under it. These have a defined business function and are headed up by a chief executive (often supported by a management board). They operate almost like a separate organisation from the main department. Whilst the ministers are not directly involved with the day-to-day running of executive agencies, they are ultimately responsible for their performance to Parliament and the general public.
Examples of executive agencies are:
HM Court and Tribunal Service
Identity and Passport Service
UK Border Agency.
Departments and executive agencies are staffed by civil servants who are ultimately accountable to Parliament through the relevant departmental minister. Aside from government departments and executive agencies, there also exist non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), both advisory (to advise on policy) and executive (to carry out policy). Executive NDPBs carry out a wide range of administrative, commercial and regulatory or technical functions which are considered to be better delivered at arm’s length from ministers. Again, they are directly accountable to ministers and, in turn, to Parliament and the public for their performance. They are usually headed by boards and the board members are usually appointed by Ministers. The board usually appoints a chief executive officer (CEO) with day-to-day responsibility for managing the body. Usually, neither the CEO, nor the staff, are civil servants.
Examples of executive NDPBs are:
Arts Council England
Health and Safety Executive.
Advisory NDPBs are set up to provide independent, ongoing expert advice to ministers on areas of policy. They do not usually employ their own staff but are supported by civil servants from the related department they are advising.
Examples of advisory NDPBs are:
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Diplomatic Service Appeal Board
Committee on Standards in Public Life
Pay Review Bodies.
Organisation charts can also indicate the roles and responsibilities of staff and who is responsible for whom. The vertical lines indicate the lines of reporting.
Local authorities report to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and are responsible for the running of local areas. There are several types. County and district councils – county councils cover large areas and provide most public services, including schools, social services and public transportation. District councils cover smaller areas within the county and provide more local services, including council housing, gyms and leisure facilities, local planning, recycling and rubbish collection. Unitary authorities – in most large towns and cities there will be just one level of local government called a 'unitary authority' responsible for all local services, instead of the two-tier system of county and district councils. Town and parish councils – these exist in some parts of England and Wales covering small areas and with responsibility for areas including allotments,...
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