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Making a Complaint to the Commissioner for Public Appointments

This document describes the process of submitting a complaint to the Commissioner.  This is not a policy document and the actual procedure relied on by the Commissioner and his staff may vary on a case-by-case basis.

The Commissioner has the authority to consider complaints about public appointments.

This authority comes from section 4.4 of the Governance Code on Public Appointments:

The Commissioner should consider complaints made about a public appointments process.  Complaints should be raised with the appointing department in the first instance, which is responsible for having effective complaints handling procedures, for making applicants aware of their right to complaint and for referring them to the Commissioner’s complaints procedures.  If, after investigation by the department, the complainant remains dissatisfied, they may bring their complaint to the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

A copy of the Governance Code is available at the following web address:

Anyone may complain to the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The Commissioner will normally be able to consider a complaint if:

  1. It relates to a specific public appointment;
  2. You have clearly identified part of the Governance Code that you believe was breached in relation to that appointment;
  3. The allegation of a breach is supported by some evidence; 
  4. A complaint has already been made to the relevant Government Department.

The Commissioner cannot consider complaints relating to:

  1. Disagreements about the outcome of a public appointments campaign; 
  2. Any issue which arises before a role is advertised;
  3. Any issue which arises outside an appointment or reappointment process;
  4. The actions of any person who does not play a formal role in the process;
  5. The removal of any person from a public appointment;
  6. Matters which should be dealt with by another authority (e.g. the Police).

If you are aware of an issue that meets these requirements, you may decide to submit a formal written complaint by email to:

A member of the Commissioner’s staff will perform an Initial Assessment of your complaint, to understand whether the Commissioner has the authority to deal with it.  As part of this process, they may ask you to answer questions about your complaint, or provide additional information in support of it.

If they decide the Commissioner doesn’t have the authority to deal with your complaint, they will inform you of their decision.

If they decide the Commissioner does have the authority to deal with it, it will normally go forward to him to consider.

There may also be instances where the Commissioner has the authority to consider a complaint, but decides to appoint someone else to deal with it on his behalf.

The Initial Assessment may take a considerable period of time to complete.  If you would like an update on your complaint at any time, please email:

If the Commissioner, or someone acting on his behalf, can deal with your complaint, he will look into your allegation.

In a minority of cases, a formal inquiry will need to be commissioned, which may be led by an independent Investigating Officer. It is possible that you will be asked to appear as a witness in the inquiry, and to present evidence to the Commissioner or Investigating Officer.

Once the Commissioner has made a decision in your case, he will present his findings in a Decision Notice, published on his website.

You may choose to withdraw your complaint at any time.  If you withdraw your complaint, there is no restriction on you resubmitting it at a later date, provided you are still within the 12 month period since the alleged breach.

Decisions made by the Commissioner and his staff are final.  There is no route of appeal.