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An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive. Executive agencies are "machinery of government" devices distinct both from non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies (or "quangos"), each of which enjoy a real legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model was also applied in several other countries.
Agenciesinclude well-known organisations such as Her Majesty's Prison Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The annual budget for each agency, allocated by Her Majesty's Treasury ranges from a few million pounds for the smallest agencies to £700m for the Court Service. Virtually all government departments have at least one agency.
The initial success or otherwise of executive agencies was examined in the Sir Angus Fraser's Fraser Report of 1991. Its main goal was to identify what good practices had emerged from the new model and spread them to other agencies and departments. The report also recommended further powers be devolved from ministers to chief executives.
A series of reports and white papers examining governmental delivery were published throughout the 1990s, under both Conservative and Labour governments. During these the agency model became the standard model for delivering public services in the United Kingdom. By 1997 76% of civil servants were employed by an agency. The new Labour government in its first such report – the 1998 Next Steps Report endorsed the model introduced by its predecessor. The most recent review (in 2002, linked below) made two central conclusions (their emphasis):
The latter point is usually made more forcefully by Government critics, describing agencies as "unaccountable quangos".
Not already listed above:
Several other countries have an executive agency model.
In the United States, the Clinton administration imported the model, but with a modification of the name to "performance-based organizations."
In Canada, executive agencies were adopted on a limited basis under the name "special operating agencies."One example is the Translation Bureau under Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Executive agencies were also established in Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Tanzania.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (c.23) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications. It was introduced by the Tony Blair Labour government ostensibly to take account of technological change such as the growth of the Internet and strong encryption.
In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to public sector organisations that have a role in the process of national government but are not part of a government department. NDPBs carry out their work largely independently from ministers and are accountable to the public through the Parliament; however, ministers are responsible for the independence, effectiveness and efficiency of non-departmental public bodies in their portfolio.
The Home Office (HO), also known as the Home Department, is a ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for immigration, security, and law and order. As such, it is responsible for policing in England and Wales, fire and rescue services in England, visas and immigration, and the Security Service (MI5). It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs, counter-terrorism, and ID cards. It was formerly responsible for Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service, but these have been transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Cabinet minister responsible for the department is the Home Secretary, a post considered one of the Great Offices of State; it has been held since July 2019 by Priti Patel.
The government agencies in Sweden are state-controlled organizations that act independently to carry out the policies of the Government of Sweden. The ministries are relatively small and merely policy-making organizations, allowed to monitor the agencies and preparing decision and policy papers for the government as a collective body to decide upon.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is a department of the United Kingdom government, with responsibility for culture and sport in England, the building of a digital economy, and some aspects of the media throughout the UK, such as broadcasting and Internet.
The following list outlines the structure of the Government of Canada.
Public bodies of the Scottish Government are organisations that are funded by the Scottish Government. It is a tightly meshed network of executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies ("quangoes"); tribunals; and nationalised industries. Such public bodies are distinct from executive agencies of the Scottish Government, as unlike them they are not considered to be part of the Government and staff of public bodies are not civil servants, although executive agencies are listed in the Scottish Government's directory of national public bodies alongside other public bodies.
The Isle of Man Government is the government of the Isle of Man. The formal head of the Isle of Man Government is the Lieutenant Governor, the personal representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Lord of Mann. The executive head is the Chief Minister.
Welsh Government sponsored bodies (WGSBs) are non-departmental public bodies directly funded by the Welsh Government. Under the Government of Wales Act 1998 they were sponsored by the National Assembly for Wales and were known as Assembly Sponsored public bodies, and this was changed by the Schedule 3 of the Wales Act 2017 which amended the Government of Wales Act 2006.
The tribunal system of the United Kingdom is part of the national system of administrative justice with tribunals classed as non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales was established by section 1(1) of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2005. The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales brings together the jurisdictions of various offices he replaced, namely the Local Government Ombudsman for Wales, the Health Service Ombudsman for Wales, the Welsh Administration Ombudsman and the Social Housing Ombudsman for Wales.
The Standards Commission for Scotland is an independent body that has the purpose of advancing high ethical standards in public life. Its main tool is the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to devolved public bodies.
Ombudsmen in Australia are independent agencies who assist when a dispute arises between individuals and industry bodies or government agencies. Government ombudsman services are free to the public, like many other ombudsman and dispute resolution services, and are a means of resolving disputes outside of the court systems. Australia has an ombudsman assigned for each state; as well as an ombudsman for the Commonwealth of Australia. As laws differ between states just one process, or policy, cannot be used across the Commonwealth. All government bodies are within the jurisdiction of the ombudsman.
Following the 2010 United Kingdom general election, the UK Government announced plans to curb public spending through the abolition of a large number of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (quangos). On 23 May 2010, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveiled a £500million plan to reduce the budget deficit by abolishing or merging many quangos. This was styled in the national press as a "bonfire of the quangos", making reference to Girolamo Savonarola's religiously inspired Bonfire of the Vanities. The cuts and closures received criticism in some quarters, but was generally welcomed by the business community.