CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSIONERS
STATEMENT OF EVIDENCE
TO THE SENIOR SALARIES REVIEW BODY (SSRB)
1. In its letter of 13 August 2008 to Janet Paraskeva, the First Civil
Service Commissioner, the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) Secretariat
invited the Civil Service Commissioners to submit written evidence to SSRB
for its 2009 report.
2. Our Annual Report for 2007–08, which is available on our website
www.civilservicecommissioners.org , covers our general experience of
recruitment to the Senior Civil Service during the period and contains
information and statistics which we trust will be of interest to the Review Body.
A hard copy of the report is attached for ease of reference. As has been our
practice in recent years, we also provide this additional evidence.
3. Our evidence is a factual record of the 121 competitions for SCS posts
which we have chaired during the reporting period, together with our
observations which are based on this experience.
4. Our broad conclusions are:
? The levels of recruitment through open competition at pay bands
2 and 3 of the Senior Civil Service have remained high.
Commissioners’ chaired 105 such competitions this year
compared to 90 in 2006/7.
? The Civil Service is continuing to attract strong fields of
candidates for its top jobs, although we observed a slight
decrease in competitions that identified more than one
? The current remuneration arrangements do not appear to be a
barrier to attracting high quality candidates from the wider public
sector and the private sector.
5. As Commissioners, we contribute to the development of an effective
and impartial Civil Service and support its core values by assuring that
appointments into it are made on merit through fair and open competition and
by promoting the Civil Service Code and hearing appeals under it. When a
vacancy within the top pay bands of the Civil Service - pay band 2, pay band
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 1 October 2008
3 and Permanent Secretary (a total of around 600 posts) is opened to external
recruitment, we oversee the process for selection by chairing the recruitment
panel. Our approval is required before any such appointment can be made.
We also chair the recruitment boards for government communication posts in
pay band 1, and some other posts by invitation. Overall we chaired successful
open competitions for 105 posts in 2007/8.
6. It is for government departments, to decide whether or not to go to
open competition at pay band 2. The decision on a vacancy at pay band 3
and Permanent Secretary level is taken by the Senior Leadership Committee,
on which the First Commissioner sits. Departments also decide the
characteristics of the competition and the terms and conditions on offer,
including the level of remuneration to be awarded to the successful
candidates, seeking advice and, if necessary, approval from the Cabinet
7. As reported in our evidence last year, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Head of
the Home Civil Service, proposed that the Commissioners’ role in relation to
senior appointments should be extended. Sir Gus and the Senior Leadership
Committee agreed that the internal process for promoting the most senior civil
servants should be put on the same footing as that for external recruitment.
From June 2007 the Civil Service Commissioners have had involvement in
the process of selection for all of the Top 200 Civil Service posts, irrespective
of whether these competitions are open to candidates from outside the Civil
Service or not. During 2007-08 we chaired competitions for 8 appointments in
pay band 3 which were not open to external competition. (This is in addition to
the 105 competitions noted above.)
8. In July 2007 the Commissioners agreed with the Senior Leadership
Committee a ‘Top 200 Protocol’ which sets out the way in which appointments
to and in the Top 200 would be handled. The protocol articulates three
? appointments will generally be subject to competition, unless there is
an exceptional case of immediate business need or a lateral managed
move is desirable;
? appointments will go to open competition, unless the business
requirements are such that there is little prospect of recruiting someone
from outside the Civil Service;
? a Commissioner will be involved in or audit appointment decisions, as
The Commissioners are pleased that there has been agreed a clearly
articulated approach to filling jobs at the very top of the Civil Service. It was
agreed that the protocol will be subject to review after 12 months. This has not
yet happened as the Cabinet Office first wishes to conclude its current review
of its senior talent management policies.
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 2 October 2008
Significant developments during the year
9. The Government published the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill on 25
March 2008. The Commissioners have argued for some time that it is right
that the core values of the Civil Service and the principle of recruitment on
merit on the basis of fair and open competition should be placed on a
statutory footing. Although the Civil Service exists to serve the Government of
the day, it also exists to serve successive administrations with equal
commitment. To do this effectively, the Civil Service needs to be underpinned
by a set of enduring values - honesty, impartiality, integrity, objectivity and
selection on merit. There should be no capability to change those values
without the consent of Parliament.
10. From 1 April 2008, the Commissioners’ Recruitment Code was
amended to require departments and agencies to include details about the
complaints procedure in literature made available to prospective applicants.
Departments were also required to incorporate a special ‘Regulated by the
Civil Service Commissioners’ logo in advertisements and information packs.
The new logo has been introduced to highlight our role as regulators of
recruitment into the Civil Service. We trust that it will quickly become a
recognised and easily understood part of Civil Service recruitment advertising.
Recruitment to the Senior Civil Service from 1 April 2007 to 31 March
11. Levels of recruitment have remained high this year. Our Annual Report
shows a total of 105 appointments through open competition to the Senior
Civil Service which required the Commissioners’ approval, compared with 90
in 2006-07,111 in 2005-06 and 91 in 2004-05.
12. The Commissioners' marking structure for assessing candidates’
performance at interview is as follows:
A = an outstanding candidate;
B = a very good candidate;
B/C = clearly above the minimum acceptable level;
C = acceptable;
D = near-miss;
E = clearly not acceptable.
(Only those awarded a mark of A, B, B/C or C are above the line and
therefore can be considered appointable. Occasionally, a mark of A-,
B+ and B- may be awarded in order to differentiate candidates within
the A and B bands.)
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 3 October 2008
Appointments at SLC level
13. The Senior Leadership Committee continues to advise the Head of the
Home Civil Service on appointments at pay band 3 and above. The First Civil
Service Commissioner sits on the Committee.
14. During the period of the report, 29 positions at SLC level were filled
following open competition. This is a significant increase on last year when
there were 17 such appointments. All the recommended candidates were
Appointments below SLC level
15. There were 76 senior appointees below SLC level during 2007-08.
16. In addition to the competitions noted above, there were eight
competitions which Commissioners chaired at pay band 2 that failed to
produce an appointable candidate.
Numbers and markings
17. In total we chaired competitions for 123 posts this year (105 successful
open competitions for SCS, 8 SCS open competitions where there was no
successful candidate, 8 internal SCS competitions under the Top 200 Protocol
and two non-SCS competitions by special invitation). We were able to
recommend candidates for appointment in 115 of these competitions.
18. For SLC appointees, 83% were marked either ‘A’ or ‘B’. This is very close to the 82% who received A or B markings last year, but the A markings
were up noticeably from 6% last year to 14% this year. Table 1 shows the
marks awarded to the successful candidates for SLC posts for the year
compared with the position in the previous three reporting years.
SLC Appointee Markings: Open competitions Year A B B/C C Total 2004-05 4 (21%) 14 (74%) 1 (6%) 0 19 2005-06 3 (15%) 12 (60%) 4 (20%) 1 (5%) 20 2006-07 1 (6%) 13 (76%) 2 (12%) 1 (6%) 17 2007-08 4 (14%) 20 (69%) 4 (14%) 1 (3%) 29
19. For non-SLC appointees, 72% were marked either ‘A’ or ‘B’. This compares to 75% last year and there was a slight decline in the A markings
from 15% last year to 11% this year. Table 2 shows the marks we awarded to
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 4 October 2008
appointees below SLC this year compared with the three previous reporting
Non SLC-Appointee Markings
Year A B B/C C Total
2004-05 5 (7%) 45 (63%) 14 (20%) 8 (11%) 72
2005-06 12 (13%) 53 (58%) 13 (15%) 13 (15%) 91
2006-07 11 (15%) 44 (60%) 10 (14%) 8 (11%) 73
2007-08 8 (11%) 46 (61%) 11 (14%) 11 (14%) 76
Size of fields
20. In general, there were good quality fields in terms of size for most of
the competitions that the Commissioners chaired. There were few
competitions when the initial field was not at least in double figures and in one
case it was in treble figures. In the small number of instances where there
was a field in single figures, the job was usually of very specialist nature and
the narrowness of the field was anticipated in advance.
Quality of fields; appointable candidates
21. As noted above, the percentage of successful candidates that received
an A or B marking was very close to the figure for the preceding year; though
there was an increase in the percentage of candidates getting A markings for
SLC jobs. As reported above, 29 positions at SLC level were filled following
open competition. All the recommended candidates were appointed and in 15
competitions (52%) the panel was able to identify one or more reserves. It is
interesting to note that there appears to be a downward trend in competitions
identifying reserve candidates. Last year 11 competitions (65%) yielded
reserves; in 2005-06, it was 18 competitions (90%). There were 76 senior
appointees below SLC level. 34 (45%) of the fields were of high enough
quality to produce at least one appointable reserve candidate. The figure for
2006-07 was 44 from 73 appointments (60%); in 2005-06, 57 (63%) of
competitions yielded more than one appointable candidate.
22. The percentage of senior appointees we have approved from the wider
public and private sectors is very little changed from the figures we reported
last year. 41% this year came from the Civil Service compared to 40% last
year; in both this year and last year 37% of senior appointees came from the
private sector; this year 22% were from the public sector compared to 23%
last year. As we noted in last year’s evidence, there has been marked
consistency in these percentages over the past few years. Table 3 shows the
relevant figures for the last four reporting years.
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 5 October 2008
Sources of All Senior Appointees
Year Pay band Civil Service Private Sector Public Sector Year Total
SLC 4 10 5
Non-SLC 2004-05 91 (pb2) 34 26 12
Total 38 (42%) 36 (39%) 17 (19%)
SLC 10 4 6
Non-SLC 2005-06 111 (pb2) 32 35 24
Total 42 (38%) 39 (35%) 30 (27%)
SLC 8 6 3
Non-SLC 2006-07 90 (pb2) 28 27 18
Total 36 (40%) 33 (37%) 21 (23%)
SLC 11 12 6
Non-SLC 2007-08 105 (pb2) 32 27 17
Total 43 (41%) 39 (37%) 23 (22%)
Tables 4 and 5 break these figures down for SLC and non-SLC appointments.
Sources of SLC Appointees: Open Competitions
Year Civil Service Private Sector Public Sector Total
2004-05 4 (21%) 10 (53%) 5 (26%) 19
2005-06 10 (50%) 4 (20%) 6 (30%) 20
2006-07 8 (47%) 6 (35%) 3 (18%) 17
2007-08 11 (38%) 12 (41%) 6 (21%) 29
Sources of Non-SLC Appointees (pay band 2)
Year Civil Service Private Sector Public Sector Total
2004-05 34 (47%) 26 (37%) 12 (17%) 72
2005-06 32 (35%) 35 (39%) 24 (27%) 91
2006-07 28 (38%) 27 (37%) 18 (25%) 73
2007-08 32 (42%) 27 (36%) 17 (22%) 76
Payments above and below the advertised rate and disparity between
payments to civil service and private sector candidates
23. Last year we drew the Review Body’s attention to two issues: advertised salaries vs. actual salaries and the disparity in starting salaries
between appointees from Civil Service and non Civil Service sources. The
position we report this year is less polarised than last year.
24. We should start by reminding the Review Body that departments and
agencies normally negotiate the remuneration package with the successful
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 6 October 2008
candidate after the Commissioner’s involvement with the competition has ended. Our information on remuneration comes to us retrospectively.
25. Last year we reported on a number of instances of payments significantly higher than the advertised rate or top of the advertised range to candidates from the private sector (more than 10% above the top of the advertised rate or range). In one case this was as much as 100%. We also reported a number of instances where civil servant candidates were paid significantly under the advertised rate or bottom of the advertised range (more than 10% below the bottom of the advertised rate or range). This year the picture is more mixed. There continue to be instances of significant salary payments over or above the advertised rate or range. However this year some of the payments over the advertised rate or range went to candidates from the Civil Service. At the other end of the scale, some of the payments under the advertised rate or range went to candidates from the private sector.
26. There were no instances this year of payments more than 33% over the advertised rate. Last year there were two and the highest was +100%. As noted, last year all payments over the advertised rate went to non-civil servants. This is not true this year and there were a number of examples where civil servants negotiated salaries over the advertised rate. The number of instances of over-payment seems to be declining. Last year, of 90 appointments, 11 were overpayments of the advertised rate. This year, of 105 appointments, 7 were over the advertised rate.
27. There also continue to be examples of successful candidates being paid under the advertised rate, or below the bottom of the advertised pay range. However, not all the under payments went to civil servants. Some public and private sector candidates also were paid under the advertised rate. However in most, but not all, of the instances where applicants from the private sector were paid under the advertised rate there were bonus arrangements in place. These bonuses would allow them to earn at least or over the advertised rate.
28. There seem to be more examples this year of instances where candidates were paid significantly under the advertised rate. Last year the largest noted under payment was -14%. This year there were four instances where the underpayment from the advertised rate was at or more than 15%. All these four instances of significant underpayment were to Civil Service candidates. One extreme example is cited in our annual report.
29. Tables 6 and 7 show the average starting salaries by source of appointees over the past four reporting periods. It is interesting to note that for pay band 3 appointees the average starting salary for Civil Service and public sector candidates has declined from the increased rates of last year. Private sector appointees at pay band 3 did not see an increase in starting salaries last year, but have moved forward this year. The figures for pay band two show a different picture. Here there has been a small increase in starting salaries for Civil Service and private sector candidates this year and a more noticeable increase for starting salaries for those joining from the public sector. Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 7 October 2008
While care should be taken in drawing any conclusions from the year on year
fluctuations observed here, it is interesting to note that the average starting
salary for a Civil Service candidate for pay band 3 is very close to the average
starting salary for private and public sector candidates for pay band 2.
30. It is also important to recognise that salary is one element of the
remuneration package, bonuses are another and pensions are a third. They
may combine in different configurations for candidates from different career
backgrounds to produce broadly similar overall financial outcomes.
Average pay band 3 Starting Salaries by Source Sector (?k)
Year Civil Service Private Sector Public Sector
2004-05 110.4 160.8 134.2
2005-06 122 166.8 156
2006-07 145.3 164.8 183
2007-08 135.3 172.9 160.8
Average pay band 2 Starting Salaries by Source Sector (?k)
Year Civil Service Private Sector Public Sector
2004-05 92 106.1 101.5
2005-06 100.9 111.5 112.6
2006-07 98.9 128.5 118.9
2007-08 102 130.6 131.8
31. Last year we noted an increased tendency for departments not to
include any salary figure or range in any of the information for candidates. The
same practice has continued this year and apparently increased. 16 of the
105 (15%) appointments this year had job information that was no more
specific on salary than ‘6 figure package’ or ‘substantial 6 figure sum’. Two
had no more detail than ‘salary package designed to attract world-class
candidates’. While there may be a small number of unusual posts where not
including salary details in recruitment information may be justified, in general
we believe that the openness of a competition is likely to be enhanced if
salary details are supplied in the information provided to candidates.
32. The Commissioners look forward to seeing the recommendations of
the Normington Review of pay and reward for the SCS.
Diversity of appointees
33. This year a higher percentage of jobs in pay band three and
Permanent Secretary level have gone to female candidates. The
Commissioners chaired appointment panels for two Permanent Secretary
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 8 October 2008
vacancies during the year and in both cases the successful candidate was a
Gender of SLC Appointees: Open competitions
2004-05 4 (21%) 15 (79%)
2005-06 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2006-07 4 (24%) 13 (76%)
2007-08 8 (28%) 21 (72%)
34. This year a lower percentage of the successful candidates for pay band
2 jobs chaired by the Commissioners were female compared to the previous
year. This is the second year that the percentage of successful female
candidates for pay band 2 jobs chaired by the Commissioners has reduced.
Gender of non-SLC Appointees (pay band 2)
2004-05 23 (32%) 49 (68%)
2005-06 29 (32%) 62 (68%)
2006-07 19 (26%) 54 (74%)
2007-08 17 (22%) 59 (78%)
35. The data collected on applicants in open competitions does not enable
us to comment with any reliability on the ethnicity of candidates or on the
percentage of candidates with disabilities.
Civil Service Commissioners
Evidence to SSRB from Civil Service Commissioners 9 October 2008