NSW Government boards and committees provide leadership, direction and accountability across many areas of NSW Government activity. They are also a vital link between the community and the Government, helping to align citizens' needs and the Government's delivery of services.

Within NSW, there are approximately 400 centrally reported  government boards and committees, with a total of approximately 4,400 members. These boards and committees are diverse in terms of functions, form, size and operational processes. They include boards of government trading enterprises, marketing boards, regulatory boards, professional registration boards, Local Health District boards, trust boards and advisory councils and committees. For more information on the list of boards and committees that support the NSW Government, see the website: NSW Government Boards and Committees.

Being appointed to a board or required to support a board

Your role may require you to hold a position on a government board or to oversee the operations of a board in the role of Executive Officer.

The role of public sector employees on government boards

Public sector employees - including secretaries or agency heads, senior executives and other officers -  may be appointed to a government board:

  • as the Minister’s or Secretary’s nominee, by virtue of legislation or at the Minister’s discretion
  • by virtue of their office (known as an ex-officio appointment).

Public sector employees are generally not entitled to receive remuneration for board appointments.  

When public sector employees are members of government boards, it is important to determine and document the nature of their role as a government representative and their reporting relationship with the responsible Minister, or Secretary or agency head.  

If you are appointed to a government board in your capacity as a public servant,  you should be aware of the Government’s policy imperatives. When performing your role on the board, you should not present any personal opinion or position that is contrary to the Minister’s directives or the Government's policy agenda. 

The role of the Executive Officer

The Executive Officer provides administrative support to the government board. On policy and advisory committees, the Executive Officer may have a coordination, policy development or project management role. The board relies on the Executive Officer to follow correct procedure and to advise the board on public sector policies and procedures, accountability standards and legislative requirements.

As Executive Officer, responsibilities may include:

  • working with the Chair to develop agendas, manage meeting papers and prepare a range of documents to support the operation of the board or committee
  • circulating papers in advance of the meetings
  • taking the minutes of the meeting, which provide evidence of attendance and participation in discussion, as well as document the decision-making process
  • organising meeting facilities and other meeting logistics
  • liaising with members
  • liaising with other government agencies, including central agencies, to provide information to enable oversight of boards and committees across the sector.

If you undertake the role of Executive Officer, or manage someone who does, you will need to be familiar with how boards are created, remuneration arrangements for board members and board appointment procedures.

Establishment

Government boards can be established by legislation or by a decision of executive government, either through the Cabinet process or by individual ministers, secretaries or agency heads. The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) NSW Government Boards and Committee Guidelines (DPC guidelines) provide advice on establishing a new board and committee. The DPC Guidelines and associated information are available on the DPC website: Boards and Committees

Remuneration

The Public Service Commission developed the Classification and Remuneration Framework for NSW Government Boards and Committees (PSC framework) to guide decisions relating to the remuneration of NSW Government boards and committees. The PSC framework includes a classification structure (principles, criteria and levels by which to categorise different types of boards and committees) and a remuneration structure (fee levels for the different classifications).

For a new board or committee, the appointment process should not start until the Public Service Commissioner provides a classification and remuneration recommendation. The PSC Framework and associated guidelines and forms are available on the PSC website: NSW Government Boards and Committees.

Appointments

A strong appointment process helps to ensure that NSW Government boards and committees are effective and independent.

The DPC guidelines includes guidance about board and committee appointment procedures. In summary, ministers and government agencies must:

  • apply the Public Service Commissioner's Appointment Standards and document the appointment process they have followed for each appointment.
  • conduct appropriate probity checks on the recommended candidate before the appointment is approved
  • seek Cabinet approval for significant or high-level appointments
  • advise DPC of all appointments directly approved by a minister.

Criteria for Cabinet approval

NSW Cabinet must approve board appointments with the following PSC classification:

Group Description Levels
A Boards of Governance: Primary Entities All
B Boards of Governance: Secondary Entities All
C Advisory Boards, Councils and Committees 3,4,5 and 6
D Tribunals, Regulators, Selective Authorities and Quasi-Judicial Bodies 3,4 and  5
E Registration, Licensing and Accreditation Entities 3 and 4

A minister can approve any appointment that does not require Cabinet approval.

The legislation that establishes a NSW Government board may provide that some appointments also require the approval of the Governor, in addition to the Cabinet's or the Minister's approval. These appointment will be approved at an Executive Council meeting. For more information on executive council procedures, see the DPC website: Executive Council

General matters

Consult the DPC guidelines for more information on board governance arrangements, including maintaining standards of conduct and managing out-of-pocket expenses.