Executive agency


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 legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model has been applied in several other countries.

Size and scopeEdit

Agencies[1] include well-known organisations such as His Majesty's Prison Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The annual budget for each agency, allocated by HM Treasury, ranges from a few million pounds for the smallest agencies to £700m for the Court Service.[citation needed] Virtually all government departments have at least one agency.

Issues and reportsEdit

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. A later 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 critics of the government,[who?] describing agencies as "unaccountable quangos".[citation needed]

List by departmentEdit

Cabinet OfficeEdit

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategyEdit

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and CommunitiesEdit

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & SportEdit

Department for EducationEdit

Department for Environment, Food & Rural AffairsEdit

Department for TransportEdit

Department of Health and Social CareEdit

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development OfficeEdit

HM TreasuryEdit

Ministry of DefenceEdit

Ministry of JusticeEdit

Other countriesEdit

Several other countries have an executive agency model.

In the United States, the Clinton administration imported the model under the name "performance-based organizations."[3]

In Canada, executive agencies were adopted on a limited basis under the name "special operating agencies."[4] One example is the Translation Bureau under Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Executive agencies were also established in Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Tanzania.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Executive Agencies". GOV.UK. Cabinet Office. 28 October 2009. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010 – via The National Archives.
  2. ^ "Building Digital UK". GOV.UK. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  3. ^ Roberts, Alasdair. Performance-Based Organizations: Assessing the Gore Plan. Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, No. 6, pp. 465-478, December 1997.
  4. ^ 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

External linksEdit

  • Economic Research Council online database of all UK Quangos 1998-2006, archived in 2007
  • 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 (archived in 2008)