NICS offers up to £190,000 for new chief to lead post-cash-for-ash reforms

Boosted salary offered for Northern Ireland Civil Service head who must help ensure the NICS “has the confidence and trust” of the public
Photo: Kelvin Boyes for CSW

The Northern Ireland Civil Service is offering a boosted salary of up to £188,272 for its next head official, who will take over a major programme of civil service reforms that follow last year's inquiry into the cash-for-ash scandal.

The role comes with a salary of between £160,563 and £188,272 – and while the job ad said candidates can expect to start at the bottom end of that payscale, "a higher starting salary within the range may be available if they have exceptionally relevant skills/experience".

The successful candidate will succeed David Sterling as NICS head and permanent secretary of the Executive Office after he retires this summer. Sterling earned between £155,000 and £160,000 in 2018-19, according to the Executive Office's latest annual report.

They will also manage the implementation and operation of the Ireland/NI Protocol in the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU.

The reforms they will oversee follow an inquiry into the “cash-for-ash” scandal that brought extra scrutiny to the conduct of special advisers, ministers and civil servants. They include legislatigve changes coming into force next year and a new code of conduct for officials.

The probe into the botched Renewable Heat Incentive programme found records of official meetings were not kept; private email accounts were used to circumvent freedom of information legislation; and powerful spads played political roles while being paid as temporary civil servants.

The job pack acknowledges that as well as leading a major programme of reform, the head of the NICS must help to ensure the organisation “has the confidence and trust of a range of stakeholders and the wider NI community”.

Another of the “major challenges” the NICS faces in the coming years is to improve “the scope, responsiveness and user friendliness of services to a wide range of customers against a backdrop of financial constraints”.

The post is described as a “highly visible leadership role in a diverse organisation which operates in a constantly changing, complex, resource-constrained and highly political environment”.

“The postholder must demonstrate the vision and enthusiasm to lead the organisation in addressing these challenges,” the job pack said.

Applicants must have at least five years’ experience in senior management at board level with “evidence of effective, visible and inclusive leadership”.

They must also have a “track record of clear and sustained corporate and personal leadership in a very complex, diverse and sensitive political environment, demonstrating integrity and resilience under high levels of scrutiny and sustained pressure”.

And they must also be able to show they have developed, brokered and implemented corporate strategy to further the executive’s aims and deliver public services effectively “in a changing and challenging environment”.

“This evidence must also include demonstrable effective analysis and judgement of competing priorities with credibility and at pace,” the candidate pack added.

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