Supplementary Memorandum by Mr Douglas
Alexander MP, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (PAP 65A)
CHANGING THE FOCUS OF THE PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS
During my evidence to the Committee on 31 October,
we discussed the effectiveness of the Public Appointments Unit
(PAU) and the need for a central directory of vacancies.
I thought it might be helpful if I updated the
Committee on the work we are doing to change the role of the Unit,
as part of our strategy to encourage people from more diverse
backgrounds to apply for public appointments.
We recognise how difficult it is for people
who are interested in serving on a public body to find information
about the vacancies that are available and we are taking steps
to address this. The PAU has been working in partnership with
colleagues in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the
development of a new vacancies website. This will provide, for
the first time, a single source of information about public appointments
vacancies at national, regional and local levels across England
and the UK. People will be able to search the site by subject
area, Government Department and by location to find details of
the vacancies available and how to apply. The new public appointments
vacancies website will be launched on 27th March at www.publicappts-vacs.gov.uk.
The website will be hosted alongside DWP's worktrain
website which contains information about job vacancies, learning
opportunities and opportunities in the voluntary sector. The joint
partnership working of the Cabinet Office and DWP on this initiative
is a real example of how Government Departments can work together
to provide information and improve accessibility.
The PAU's own website is also being relaunched
at www.publicappointments.gov.uk. This will provide general information
about public appointments, how to get involved, the process and
the range of public bodies. There will be a direct link to the
vacancies website and both sites will go on-line at the same time.
For people who do not have access to the Internet,
the Unit is producing a bi-annual newsletter that will include
details of all the vacancies. This will be sent to individuals
and other external stakeholders.
The effectiveness of the public appointments
register maintained by the PAU has also been reviewed. In the
past, the register has been a source of names available to Departments
when drawing up a field of candidates for specific appointments.
However, it has not operated proactively and people have been
on the register for a number of years and never been approached
about an appointment. This has led us to conclude that a centrally
maintained register is no longer the most effective way to meet
the needs of people who wish to become involved in public life.
We have therefore decided to close the register.
We believe that the changes we are making will
provide greater access to information about public appointments
supporting the Government's wider objectives on diversity, putting
citizens first and extending the range of services on-line. I
hope the Committee will agree.