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The appointments process and Cabinet appointment papers

Issue date: 
Friday, 7 July 2017
Issue status: 
Published by: 
Version note: 

This publication is part of the CabGuide.


This section sets out the requirements and processes for considering appointments (the term “appointments” in this section covers both appointments and reappointments) made by Ministers, by the Governor-General on the advice of a Minister, or by the Governor-General in Executive Council, including:

  • matters to consider when identifying candidates for appointment, including remuneration, the appointment of public servants to statutory boards, and conflicts of interest
  • Ministerial and political consultation on appointments
  • guidelines for drafting appointments papers, including an appointments paper template, and the requirements for accompanying documentation
  • the procedure for making appointments after their consideration by Cabinet, including appointments made either by Ministers, the Governor-General outside of the Executive Council, or the Governor-General in Executive Council
  • advice on restraint in making significant appointments during the pre-election period.
Important: In general, all but the most minor public appointments made by the Minister, or by the Governor-General on the advice of the Minister, should first be considered by the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) (see paragraph 5.12(l) of the Cabinet Manual).

The information in this section should be read in conjunction with the State Services Commission’s Board Appointments and Induction Guidelines (the SSC Guidelines). The SSC Guidelines are for everyone following a government board appointment process and provide guidance on recruitment, appointment, removal from office, induction for appointees, and supporting board performance.

The following Cabinet Office circulars set out detailed Cabinet requirements with respect to:the level of remuneration for members of statutory and other Crown bodies:

The Treasury also provides guidance with respect to appointments to boards of Crown-owned companies and entities).

This Appointments Process Workflow (PDF 121 KB) diagram summarises the standard process for appointments, including Cabinet consideration.

Identifying candidates for appointments, including remuneration and conflicts of interest

Balanced representation

The government wants its commitment to equitable treatment for all of its citizens to be reflected in the appointments that it makes. Where the body concerned is serving a particular community of interest, individuals representing that community should be considered for appointment.

The government is particularly committed to appointing Maori, Pacific peoples, and women to government bodies to improve balance in representation. Cabinet has invited Ministers and chief executives to take personal responsibility for achieving balanced representation on the boards for which they are responsible.

Ministers preparing appointments papers are invited to seek nominations for vacancies on boards from the Minister for Maori Development, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, and the Minister for Women. Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry for Women have databases of suitable candidates that should be consulted, and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples is able to suggest suitable candidates.

Consumer Affairs’ within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has issued guidelines for consumer representation on boards, advisory bodies, departmental working parties, and companies. The guidelines apply to appointments where the mix of members includes lay or consumer representation, but not to appointments to Crown companies constituted under the Companies Act 1993 or to district health boards.

Further information about the nomination services that are available is set out in Cabinet Office circular CO (02) 16, Government Appointments: Increasing Diversity of Board Membership. Departments have been directed to explore alternative means of finding candidates where existing methods do not produce a suitable balance of candidates for Ministers and APH to consider.

Appointments papers are required to have a section entitled Representativeness of Appointment confirming that full consideration has been given to the need to achieve appropriate gender, age, geographical, and ethnic balance.

Appointment papers should also contain a statement along the following lines:

“I can confirm that an appropriate process has been followed in selecting the proposed appointee, in terms of the State Services Commission [or the Treasury] appointment guidelines. In summary, that process comprised [specify steps taken, e.g. consulting Treasury/Ministry for Women/Te Puni Kokiri databases, discussions with the Board chair, consulting specified stakeholders, public advertising, interviewing candidates, reviewing the candidate’s CV].

This process was appropriate because [e.g. the proposed appointee will chair the board of an important Crown entity with a $100 million budget and a comprehensive selection process was, therefore, warranted; or this vacancy arose suddenly because of the death of a board member, and an abridged appointment process was, therefore, necessary].”

Appointment of public servants to statutory boards

Cabinet has agreed that, as a general rule, Ministers should not appoint, or recommend for appointment, public servants to statutory boards. There may, however, be special circumstances that justify appointing a public servant to a board. For further information on this, see Cabinet Office circular CO (02) 5, Appointment of Public Servants to Statutory Boards.

Remuneration for appointees

The Cabinet Fees Framework recommends the process for setting or reviewing fees paid to appointees, recommends fee ranges, and sets Cabinet’s processes for exceptions to the Fees Framework (see Cabinet Office circular CO (12) 6, Fees Framework for Members Appointed to Bodies in which the Crown has an Interest).

The Fees Framework should be used in setting fees for all statutory bodies, non-statutory bodies, and committees in which the Crown has an interest, in particular bodies outside the jurisdiction of the Remuneration Authority or another fee setting authority.

The Fees Framework covers most Crown entities (including Crown agents, district health boards, autonomous Crown entities, and tertiary education institutions), trust boards, advisory bodies/committees to Ministers and chief executives, Royal commissions, commissions of inquiry and Ministerial inquiries, statutory tribunals, and some subsidiary bodies.

The Treasury provides guidance outlining Shareholding Ministers’ expectations around the payment of directors’ fees and expenses in Crown companies, and is intended as a guide for the use of chairs, directors and managers.

Conflicts of interest

Ministers must certify for each appointment that any conflicts of interest that could reasonably have been identified have been identified and, where a conflict has been identified, propose an appropriate regime for dealing with it. Detailed guidance on the identification and management of conflicts of interest is contained in the SSC Guidelines and in the Treasury’s guidance.

Each appointments paper must contain:

EITHER [Conflicts of interest enquiries have been carried out]:

A statement stating:

“I can confirm that appropriate enquiries concerning conflicts of interest have been carried out, in accordance with the State Services Commission [or the Treasury] appointment guidelines, to identify any conflict of interest that could reasonably be identified, and:

Either: no conflicts of interest have been identified.

Or: the following conflict of interest has been identified [explain the nature of the conflict]. The following regime is proposed to deal with the conflict [specify].”

OR [Conflicts of interest enquiries have not yet been completed]:

A statement stating:

“Information concerning conflicts of interest is still outstanding because [explain why]. The appointment will not be finalised before appropriate enquiries concerning conflicts of interest have been carried out in accordance with the State Services Commission [or the Treasury] appointment guidelines. I will report to Cabinet on the outcome of these enquiries, either confirming that no conflicts of interest have been identified and that the appointment has been made or, if necessary, referring any conflict issue that has been identified to the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee or Cabinet for further discussion.”

Ministerial and political consultation on appointments

At the start of each year, the Cabinet Office advises Ministers of vacancies that will arise in the year ahead. Ministers who would like to find out more about a board or an impending vacancy, or would like to make a nomination, should contact the office of the responsible Minister. In general, the deadline for submitting nominations is two to three months before the date that the vacancy arises. The responsible Minister’s office will be able to advise exactly when nominations are due.

Ministers may also like to seek nominations from Ministerial and parliamentary colleagues. Officials should discuss this with the responsible Minister’s office. As indicated in the section above on identifying candidates for appointments, nominations can be sought from the Minister for Maori Development, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, the Minister for Women, and the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The Prime Minister must be consulted on major appointments before they are submitted to the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH). It is expected that the majority of government appointments will be discussed with the government caucus after consideration by APH and Cabinet. This should be reflected by ticking the appropriate consultation box when lodging an appointments paper in CabNet.

Guidance on consultation with the government caucus, support parties, and other parliamentary parties is set out in Cabinet Office circular CO (15) 1, National-led Administration: Consultation and Operating Arrangements.

Plenty of time should be allowed for consultation as part of the appointments process.

What is the procedure for making appointments after their consideration by Cabinet?

Once a Minister’s intention to make an appointment has been noted by APH, Cabinet, and the government caucus, the appointment needs to be made. The relevant Act, Cabinet minute, or board’s constitution will prescribe who will make the appointment. It will generally be:

  • the Minister or Shareholding Ministers; or
  • the Governor-General on the advice of a Minister; or
  • the Governor-General in Council.

While an Associate Minister may have delegated authority to deal with appointments in a particular area of work, the appointment (or the recommendation of the appointment to the Governor-General) must be made in the name of the Minister with authority under the relevant Act. The Associate Minister can, however, sign the documentation for the principal Minister (writing “for” next to the responsible Minister’s title at the time that the document is signed).

A notice in the New Zealand Gazette may also be required for an individual to be legally appointed. Check whether this is the case by reference to the relevant Act, Cabinet minute, or constitution of the body to which the appointment is being made. The publication of a notice in the Gazette is arranged by the department or the Minister’s office. For advice on the steps required, contact the Gazette Office in the Department of Internal Affairs.

All appointees to Crown bodies must receive letters of appointment upon appointment. Letters of appointment for Crown appointees should follow prescribed guidelines and be supplemented with additional material appropriate to the appointee.

The letter should be drafted by those responsible for running the appointment processes, and approved and signed by the appointing authority.

The letter should include the following information:

  • the designation of the position
  • the position description
  • the proper name of the board or office
  • the authority under which the appointment is made
  • the term of the appointment
  • termination procedures
  • legislation relevant to the board or office
  • training and development opportunities
  • how any potential conflicts of interests will be managed
  • the name of a contact person for further information
  • the fees and allowances relating to the appointment.

Unless already undertaken, the appointee must be requested to accept in writing the terms of the appointment, including confirmation of any identified conflicts of interest, and mechanisms put in place to manage the conflicts. Appointees should be asked to enter into confidentiality agreements where appropriate.

Further information will be provided to new board members by the chair of the board, which may include the composition of the body and its procedures, responsibilities to the chair and board colleagues, and relationships with the responsible Minister and Parliament. More detailed advice on induction information for appointees is set out in the SSC Guidelines and in the Treasury’s guidance.

Appointments made by a Minister or Shareholding Ministers

For appointments made by a Minister or Shareholding Ministers, the appointment is made by way of a letter from the Minister advising the individual of the appointment, and a Gazette notice, if required.

Refer to the following pages for more information

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 17 January 2017

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