Executive agency

An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive. Executive agencies are "machinery of government" devices distinct both from non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies (or "quangos"), each of which enjoy a real legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model was also applied in several other countries.

Size and scope

Agencies[1] include well-known organisations such as Her Majesty's Prison Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The annual budget for each agency, allocated by Her Majesty's Treasury ranges from a few million pounds for the smallest agencies to £700m for the Court Service. Virtually all government departments have at least one agency.

Issues and reports

The initial success or otherwise of executive agencies was examined in the Sir Angus Fraser's Fraser Report of 1991. Its main goal was to identify what good practices had emerged from the new model and spread them to other agencies and departments. The report also recommended further powers be devolved from ministers to chief executives.

A series of reports and white papers examining governmental delivery were published throughout the 1990s, under both Conservative and Labour governments. During these the agency model became the standard model for delivering public services in the United Kingdom. By 1997 76% of civil servants were employed by an agency. The new Labour government in its first such report – the 1998 Next Steps Report endorsed the model introduced by its predecessor. The most recent review (in 2002, linked below) made two central conclusions (their emphasis):

" The agency model has been a success. Since 1988 agencies have transformed the landscape of government and the responsive and effectiveness of services delivered by Government."
" Some agencies have, however, become disconnected from their departments ... The gulf between policy and delivery is considered by most to have widened."

The latter point is usually made more forcefully by Government critics, describing agencies as "unaccountable quangos".

List by department

Attorney General's Office

  • HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

Cabinet Office

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government

  • Valuation Tribunal for England

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Department for Education

  • Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
  • Independent Review Mechanism
  • Office of the Schools Adjudicator

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

  • Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment
  • Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel
  • Science Advisory Council
  • Veterinary Products Committee
  • Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal

Department for International Trade

Department for Transport

  • Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

Department for Work and Pensions

  • Independent Case Examiner

Department of Health

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

HM Treasury

  • Royal Mint Advisory Committee

Home Office

  • Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner

Ministry of Defence

  • Central Advisory Committee on Compensation

Ministry of Justice

Northern Ireland Office

Office of the Advocate General for Scotland

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

Office of the Leader of the House of Lords

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

Scotland Office

UK Export Finance

  • Export Guarantees Advisory Council

Non ministerial departments

Not already listed above:

Other countries

Several other countries have an executive agency model.

In the United States, the Clinton administration imported the model, but with a modification of the name to "performance-based organizations."[2]

In Canada, executive agencies were adopted on a limited basis under the name "special operating agencies."[3]

Executive agencies were also established in Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Tanzania.

See also


  1. ^ Cabinet Office - UK Government executive agencies (Archived Page, retrieved 29 August 2014)
  2. ^ Roberts, Alasdair. Performance-Based Organizations: Assessing the Gore Plan. Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, No. 6, pp. 465-478, December 1997.
  3. ^ Roberts, Alasdair. Public Works and Government Services: Beautiful Theory Meets Ugly Reality. HOW OTTAWA SPENDS, G. Swimmer, ed., pp. 171-203 Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1996

External links