ARCHIVE: Types of delivery partners
This guidance is aimed at anyone interested in finding out more about Defra's delivery partners.
This guidance explains the characteristics which define a public body.
Executive agencies are well-defined business units that carry out services or functions, with a clear focus on delivering specific outputs within a framework of accountability to ministers. They can be set up or disbanded without legislation, and they are organisationally independent from the department. However, they are shown in Defra’s accounts. Legally, they act on behalf of the secretary of state and are indistinguishable from Defra itself. Their chief executives also perform the role of accounting officers, which means they are responsible for the money spent by their organisations. Staff employed by agencies are civil servants.
Defra’s corporate responsibilities
Defra has clear responsibilities in relationship to executive agencies but these split between the risks and responsibilities of corporate ownership and those of corporate customer interests. Defra recognises that these roles along with their risks and responsibilities may sometimes conflict with each other and has taken action to clearly differentiate the roles of corporate owner and corporate customer. Corporate owners and corporate customer roles are the responsibility of senior individual civil servants in Defra.
Non-departmental public bodies
A non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a body which plays a role in the processes of national government, but is not a government department or part of one. Accordingly, it operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from ministers. All NDPBs must follow the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) code of practice when making board member appointments.
There are three types of NDPB within Defra: executive, advisory and tribunal:
Executive NDPBs are established by statute and carry out administrative, regulatory and commercial functions. They employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets. All executive NDPBs are subject to external audit.
Advisory NDPBs provide independent and expert advice to ministers on particular topics of interest. Generally speaking, they are set up administratively by ministers, without the need for legislation. They do not usually have staff, but are provided with administrative support by their sponsoring department. They do not usually have a budget of their own, as their costs are met from out of the department’s expenditure.
Tribunal NDPBs have jurisdiction in a specialised field of law. They are usually supported by staff from their sponsoring department and do not have their own budgets.
Other types of delivery partner
Public corporations undertake or deliver a public service in a given industry. They have substantial day-to-day operating independence and therefore have specific arrangements in place for the financial control and accountability of public funds. They are governed by a board. Some public corporations, which are not self financing, receive a subsidy or grant. Public corporations should follow the OCPA code of practice when making appointments to the board.
Task forces, ad-hoc advisory groups and reviews
In contrast to NDPBs, which have a long-term activity to carry out, task forces, ad-hoc advisory groups and reviews have a short-term focus and when their work comes to an end, they are disbanded. These groups are usually created to give expert advice to the government on a specific issue and are usually expected to remain in operation for less than two years. Their recommendations are often taken forward by other parts of government.
Defra recently undertook a review of these bodies to:
- ensure that it has the right set of non-executive bodies in place to help it meet its strategic priorities
- look at opportunities to improve efficiency in and simplify the advisory body landscape
- look at how advice is commissioned and delivered and best practice
- assess whether support arrangements for these bodies can be improved and made more cost effective.
Review of Defra’s
non-executive bodies is available (amended version of the document
first made available in February 2007) (PDF, 250 KB). The Review
makes a number of recommendations including good practice recommendations
which require action by both Defra and the bodies. Defra is working
on how best to take these forward, and to ensure fit with
Defra’s Renew Programme.
These are bodies which do not fit within the categories defined above.
- Procedures for classifying a new body
- List of the Defra public bodies (PDF, 1.4 MB)
- Governance structures
- Defra's delivery landscape map
If you require additional information on planning and management issues, and do not have access to the Defra intranet, please contact the Delivery Relationship Team.
Cabinet Office - How to classify a body (PDF 450 KB)
Page last modified:
24 June 2009
Page published: 8 May 2006