Ensuring public appointments are fair and open

We regulate and monitor the system used to appoint board members for many public bodies that play an important part in Scottish life. The Scottish Ministers make these appointments and the selection process is run on their behalf by Scottish Government officials. The Commissioner and her team play a key role in ensuring appointments are made on merit, using methods that are fair and open, and reflect the diversity of Scottish society today.

Regulating public appointments

Right people, right roles

We provide guidance on good practice in recruitment and selection.

It’s intended to help selection panels design appointment rounds that are welcoming and accessible to people from all backgrounds, and that identify the right people for the right roles.


Running an appointment round

Applying for an appointment

The Scottish Government has a dedicated Public Appointments website for people to find out more, search for vacancies, and apply. The application process will vary from organisation to organisation, but they will all be run in accordance with the Code of Practice developed and monitored by the Ethical Standards Commissioner and her team.

How to apply

Recent good practice case studies

View all case studies

Scottish Housing Regulator - good practice in planning and publicity - 2017

This report summarises the planning phase for this appointment round and highlights a particularly innovative approach to attraction. The body used its Twitter feed to highlight the opportunities and the body and the Scottish Government ran two early evening open events so that people could find out more about the roles available and how to apply.

sportscotland - good practice in planning and publicity - 2017

This report summarises an exercise in planning and attraction. A particularly innovative feature of the round appeared to lead to the attraction of a higher than average number of younger applicants. This was the use of video clips of existing board members talking about their role and the role and culture of the board.

Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland - good practice in planning and assessment for a chair - 2017

A mix of methods were used including simulated activities with high levels of validity leading to a successful outcome.

MACS - good practice in planning and publicity - 2017

This report summarises an exercise in planning and attraction. It is the third time that an appointment round for this body has been used as a good practice case study. Approaches used in this case were very innovative and particularly accessible.

Reflecting the diversity of Scottish society

The most successful boards are made up of people from all walks of life – with a blend of skills, knowledge, experience, personal qualities and perspectives. To achieve this, all positions on public body boards must be accessible to people from across the communities they serve – regardless of age, gender, disability, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. 

As part of her role to promote diversity within public body appointments, the Ethical Standards Commissioner has published Diversity Delivers – a strategy for enhancing equality of opportunity within Scotland’s public appointment process. We help Scottish Government officials implement the recommendations in the strategy, and engage in outreach activity to encourage successful applications from people in under-represented groups.

Promoting diversity


If you think someone in public office has not behaved properly, you may be able to complain to the Ethical Standards Commissioner. The Commissioner and her team investigate complaints against MSPs, local authority councillors or board members of public bodies when they’ve breached a code of conduct which applies to them. We also look into how people are appointed to the boards of regulated public bodies, and investigate complaints about lobbyists. You can even complain about us – or the Commissioner – if you don’t think we’ve followed proper procedure.

Make a complaint