About public bodies
Put simply a public body is generally an organisation which receives at least 50 percent of its funding from central government. Within this framework, some public bodies operate to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from Ministers and are not part of a Scottish Government Directorate. These specific bodies are generally referred to as Non Departmental Public Bodies and are managed by a Board whose members are appointed by the Minister. Public bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes and fall into one of the following classifications depending on their functions and relationship with Scottish Ministers and/or the Scottish Parliament:
- Executive Agencies - are constituent parts of Scottish Government with a stronger focus on operational management and direct delivery of public services. They are headed by a Chief Executive who together with the agency staff are civil servants.
- Executive NDPBs - have a national remit and carry out administrative, commercial, executive or regulatory functions at arm's length from Government. They are normally established by statute, Royal Charter or as companies limited by guarantee. Most NDPBs have boards appointed by Scottish Ministers which are subject to the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland (OCPAS).
- Advisory NDPBs - have a national remit and carry out advisory functions providing specialist advice to Ministers and others.
- Tribunals are responsible for tasks and advice relating to specialist areas of law, carry out judicial functions but are separate from the formal court system.
- Public Corporations are industrial or commercial enterprises under direct control of Ministers.
- National Health Service (NHS) Bodies provide management, technical or advisory services within the NHS.
- Non-Ministerial Departments - are headed by a statutory officer holder and operate at arm's length from Government.
Information on the contact details, staffing, chief executive name and salary and levels of Scottish Government funding of public bodies is available from the National Public Bodies Directory.
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There are also a number of public bodies in Scotland that are associated with the UK government. To find out more about them and how you can get involved, click here.