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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.
Size and scope
Agencies range from Her Majesty's Prison Service to 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.
Issues and reports
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 whole 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 agency model has been a success. Since 1988 agencies have transformed the landscape of government and the responsive and effectiveness of services delivered by Government."
- "Some agencies have, however, become disconnected from their departments ... The gulf between policy and delivery is considered by most to have widened."
The latter point is usually made more forcefully by Government critics, describing agencies as "unaccountable quangos".
List by department
- Innovate UK
- Companies House
- HM Land Registry
- Insolvency Service
- Intellectual Property Office
- Met Office
- National Measurement and Regulation Office
- Skills Funding Agency
- UK Space Agency
- Defence Electronics and Components Agency
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
- Animal and Plant Health Agency
- Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
- Rural Payments Agency
- Veterinary Medicines Directorate
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
- HM Courts and Tribunals Service
- Legal Aid Agency
- National Offender Management Service
- Office of the Public Guardian
- The National Archives
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency
- Vehicle Certification Agency
- Government Internal Audit Agency
- UK Debt Management Office
Several other countries have an executive agency model.
Executive agencies were also established in Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Tanzania.
- Trading fund
- Agency of the European Union
- Government-owned corporation
- Departments of the United Kingdom Government
- Non-departmental public body
- Independent agencies of the United States government
- United States federal executive departments
- Cabinet Office - UK Government executive agencies (Archived Page, retrieved 29 August 2014)
- "Who we are". http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/. National Savings and Investments. Retrieved 7 November 2014. External link in
- Department of Health - Executive agencies (Archived webpage, retrieved 29 August 2014)
- Roberts, Alasdair. Performance-Based Organizations: Assessing the Gore Plan. Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, No. 6, pp. 465-478, December 1997.
- Roberts, Alasdair. Public Works and Government Services: Beautiful Theory Meets Ugly Reality. HOW OTTAWA SPENDS, G. Swimmer, ed., pp. 171-203 Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1996
- Economic Research Council online database of all UK Quangos 1998-2006
- 2002 Government report into the agencies model entitled "Better Government Services – Executive agencies in the 21st century" published by The Prime Minister's Office of Public Services Reform. Contains a list of agencies. (PDF)
- Civil Service (from the UK Government Web Archive)