Section 1

Introduction

The Commission for Public Service Appointments (“the Commission”) is an independent regulatory body. The authority for the Commission to carry out its duties is set out in the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 (“the Act”). The Commission consists of five members (“the Commissioners”), selected because of their positions in other relevant organisations. They are the

  • Chairperson of Dáil Éireann (An Ceann Comhairle)
  • Secretary General to the Government
  • Secretary General to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Chairperson of the Standards in Public Office Commission
  • Ombudsman

The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 governs appointments to certain positions in

  • The Civil Service

  • An Garda Síochána

  • The Health Service Executive

  • Any other public body to which the application of the Act has been extended on foot of primary legislation or by order of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

  • Those positions in the local authorities to which the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act 1926 applies

    The purpose of the Act is to provide a modern and efficient framework for public service recruitment. It gives the Commission responsibility for establishing and safeguarding high standards in the recruitment and selection of people for appointment to posts. The Act also provides the Commission with the powers necessary to enforce the standards set out, such as the power to amend the terms of a recruitment licence issued to a public body or to revoke the licence in extreme cases. However, the Commission does not have the power to alter a recruitment decision once made.

    The standards established by the Commission must be made publicly available in Codes of Practice and must be observed by office holders.

The Commission establishes standards of probity, merit, equity and fairness to be observed in the appointment of people to positions in the organisations subject to its remit. The Commission discharges its responsibilities by

  • Publishing and maintaining Codes of Practice that set out the standards to be observed in relation to appointments in the public service

  • Auditing and evaluating recruitment policies and practices to safeguard the standards set out and to establish whether or not the Codes of Practice are being observed

  • Granting recruitment licences and revoking them where necessary

  • Issuing instructions and advice to licence holders

  • Establishing appropriate appeal procedures

  • Reporting to the Oireachtas and the government, and providing information to ministers on the operation of recruitment and selection processes

  • Carrying out its powers and duties under the Act

The Commission is responsible for protecting the public interest in relation to recruitment and selection matters. It uses its audit function to ensure that those operating its Codes of Practice are at all times committed to the principles set out.

The Commission contributes to the development of an effective and impartial public service by carrying out the duties required of it by the Act. It provides an assurance to the public that appointments are made on candidates’ merit. This means that office holders select
the best person for the job from those candidates available to ensure, as far as reasonably possible, that the duties of the job will be carried out as effectively as may be.

The Codes of Practice set out the Commission’s core recruitment and selection principles and inform their interpretation and application. The standards set out must be observed
by all those involved in the appointment processes under the Commission’s remit. This principle-based approach is intended to maintain and further enhance consistency, fairness, transparency, accountability and diversity in recruitment practices. As such, the Codes reflect the Commission’s responsibilities with regard to protecting the public interest.

The Codes provide office holders with a clear and concise guide to the approach they must take. This is to help recruiters ensure a fair, open and transparent appointment process that produces a high quality outcome and commands public confidence. The Codes are intended to contribute to the development of best practice in the field of recruitment and selectio

The Codes provide a flexible framework based on the Commission’s recruitment principles. The Commission recognises that office holders require flexibility to deal efficiently and effectively with the diverse range of appointments they make. Accordingly, the Codes allow office holders to adopt strategies and develop processes to implement the principles effectively. All appointments made under each Code must also comply with relevant employment, equality and human rights legislation.

Each Code also sets out the procedure in relation to requests for a review of selection and appointment processes and in cases of failure to comply with any provision of a Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice for Appointment to Positions in the Civil Service and Public Service applies to both external and internal appointments1 to

  • “Established” positions and “unestablished” positions in the Civil Service

  • Positions in An Garda Síochána up to and including inspector level

  • Positions in the Health Service Executive

  • Positions in any other public body to which the application of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 has been extended on foot of primary legislation or by order of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

  • Positions in local authorities to which the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act 1926 applies

This Code of Practice details the five core principles of probity, merit, best practice, fairness and transparency that should be applied to all recruitment processes (see Section 2). The Code was originally developed in 2004. It was subsequently reviewed and refined in 2007 and again in 2016 in response to observations from office holders and the general public.

This Code reflects a changing work and social environment, the different business needs that this has placed on those operating the Code, and the consequent necessity for flexibility, subject to the principles, in recruitment practices. The main body of the Code is arranged as follows...

Section 2: Definitions of each of the Code principles and examples of their interpretation and application in relation to the appointment process

Section 3: Details of how the audit function of the Commission operates

Section 4: Details of responsibility and accountability for the application of the principles

Section 5: Details of the obligations placed on candidates

Section 6: Details about investigations that may be carried out by the Commission in the case of interference with the process

Section 7: The procedure for processing requests for review made to an office holder

Section 8: The procedure to be followed by the office holder and by the Commission in reviewing allegations of failure to comply with the Code of Practice

Section 9: Unreasonable customer conduct and how it should be managed

Section 10: An outline of ministerial responsibilities

In addition, Appendix A offers further details on positions for which this Code is not applicable and Appendix B provides definitions of some specific terms used in this Code.

Section 13 of the Act states that the Commission may audit recruitment and selection policies and practices in order to evaluate and safeguard the standards established in its Codes of Practice. The audit function is a key mechanism in ensuring adherence to the principles set out in each Code of Practice. Audit programmes are carried out periodically to determine how the principles are being interpreted and applied. Audits may also focus on issues of particular interest or concern to the Commission (see Section 3).

Further advice and information regarding the content and interpretation of the Commission’s Codes of Practice are available from the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments.