Types of public body
Executive agencies carry out services or functions, with a focus on delivering specific outputs. They can be set up or disbanded without legislation, and they are organisationally independent from the Department. However, they are shown in BERR’s accounts. Legally, they act on behalf of the Secretary of State and are indistinguishable from BERR itself. Their chief executives perform the role of accounting officer, which means they are responsible for the money spent by their organisations. Staff employed by agencies are civil servants.
Non-departmental public bodies
A non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a body which plays a role in the processes of national government, although is not part of a government department. Accordingly, it operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from ministers. All NDPBs must follow the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) code of practice when making board member appointments.
There are three types of NDPB within BERR: executive, advisory and tribunal:
- Executive NDPBs
Executive NDPBs are established by statute and carry out administrative, regulatory and commercial functions. They employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets. All executive NDPBs are subject to external audit.
- Advisory NDPBs
Advisory NDPBs provide independent and expert advice to ministers on particular topics of interest. Generally speaking, they are set up administratively by ministers, without the need for legislation. They do not usually have staff, but are provided with administrative support by their sponsoring department. They do not usually have a budget of their own, as their costs are met from out of the department’s expenditure.
- Tribunal NDPBs
Tribunal NDPBs have jurisdiction in a specialised field of law. They are usually supported by staff from their sponsoring department and do not have their own budgets.
Other types of delivery partner
- Non-ministerial Government Department
The budgets of NMGDs are usually set by the Treasury, not by the department which set them up, and they are often funded by licence fees paid by the industries which they regulate. They are set up under legislation and and draw their powers from that legislation. The head of the NMGD is often appointed by a Departmental Minister and the work of the NMGD is subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.
- Public corporations
Public corporations undertake or deliver a public service in a given industry. They have substantial day-to-day operating independence and therefore have specific arrangements in place for the financial control and accountability of public funds. They are governed by a board. Some public corporations, which are not self financing, receive a subsidy or grant. Public corporations should follow the OCPA code of practice when making appointments to the board.
- Task forces, ad-hoc advisory groups and reviews
In contrast to NDPBs, which have a long-term activity to carry out, task forces, ad-hoc advisory groups and reviews have a short-term focus and when their work comes to an end, they are disbanded. These groups are usually created to give expert advice to the government on a specific issue and are usually expected to remain in operation for less than two years. Their recommendations are often taken forward by other parts of government.