Skip to main content

In some circumstances, it can currently take up to 4.5 months to conduct an initial assessment for some complaints, particularly if they are complex. We are doing everything we can to reduce this time. You can find average timescales for each stage of complaint handling across all types of complaints here.

How we investigate complaints about public appointments

Ministers and officials are expected to follow the Code of Practice when appointing people to the boards of public bodies. We can investigate if you think this hasn’t happened. We can only investigate where the appointment is to a regulated public body.

You can contact us by telephone, email or regular post to make your complaint. 

We’ll check whether your complaint relates to one of the regulated bodies. We’ll then assess whether the complaint is about a breach of the Code of Practice

If your complaint is not about a regulated body or a breach of the Code of Practice, then we cannot investigate, and we’ll explain this to you. We’ll let you know if we think another agency may be able to help and provide you with more information. 

If we think you have a valid complaint about a public appointment, then we’ll make sure that:

  • you’ve already complained to the Scottish Government and
  • you remain unhappy with the Scottish Government’s response.

We ask you to complain to the Scottish Government first to allow them to resolve any issues directly with you. If you have not yet complained to the Scottish Government, we can assist you to do so.

Where you have complained and remain unhappy, we’ll move to the next stage of the complaints process. We’ll do this within three working days.

We will agree a statement of complaint with you. This sets out what your concerns are and why you believe the Code of Practice has been breached. We will discuss this with you by telephone or in writing until we have an agreed statement of complaint. The statement will also let you know what the Commissioner can and will do on your behalf and what the outcomes of our investigation may be. For example, where there has been a serious breach, the Commissioner may report the matter to the Scottish Parliament.

We aim to agree the statement within 20 working days.

Once we’ve agreed your statement, we will write to the Scottish Government to let them know that we are investigating. We will:

  • set out your complaint as agreed
  • list the issues for them to respond to
  • ask for copies of all materials and correspondence relevant to your complaint and
  • set a deadline for the response, which will usually be 20 working days.  

If we think that the complaint relates to a serious breach of the Code we will also write to the head of the Scottish Government, the Permanent Secretary about it. 

Once we’ve received the information requested, we’ll conduct the investigation.  If the investigation takes more than 20 working days to complete, we will write to you to explain why. We’ll also keep you updated on progress at least every 20 working days until the investigation is completed.

Once the investigation is completed, we will write to you and to the Scottish Government with the Commissioner’s findings. These letters will detail the Commissioner’s conclusions and the reasons behind them. They will also include any actions that we intend to take, and/or recommendations for the Scottish Government.

Depending on the result of the investigation, the Commissioner may also make a report to the Scottish Parliament. We will let you know if that is going to happen. These reports are usually publicly available. We won’t publish your identity. 

If you aren’t happy with the Commissioner’s decision and/or the way that we handled the investigation you can complain to us. 

In these cases, you should know that we will not enter into lengthy discussions about the outcome of the investigation nor reopen it unless there is relevant new evidence. We will clarify any points you raise about the outcome and respond to any questions about the way we handled your complaint.

If you are still unhappy, we will let you know what to do next. You can complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman about how we handled your complaint or how we have treated you. However, the Ombudsman cannot overturn the Commissioner’s decision about your original complaint.