Guidelines for drafting appointment papers

The process for Cabinet consideration of appointments

The collective interest of the government is best served if the whole of Cabinet participates in the making of appointments.  In general, all but the most minor appointments made by Ministers, or by the Governor-General on the advice of a Minister, should first be considered by the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) (see paragraph 5.12(l) of the Cabinet Manual).  Even where an appointment is the responsibility of a particular Minister, it is important that it is raised with colleagues to ensure the widest possible input into the appointment process.

Once a Minister has identified their preferred candidate for an appointment, the Minister advises Cabinet of their intention through a paper submitted to APH. 

Drafting a paper to APH is one of the final steps in the appointment process.  The groundwork for the appointment should have been completed before the APH paper is written.  General guidance on procedures for making appointments to statutory and other bodies, other than Crown companies, can be found in the State Services Commission (SSC) publication entitled Board Appointments and Induction Guidelines, available at  General guidance on appointments to Crown companies can be found in the website of the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (COMU) in the Treasury:  By following the guidelines from the start of the appointment process, departments can ensure that the preparation of the APH paper will be straightforward.  The appointments process will also be guided by the requirements of relevant empowering legislation, trust deeds or terms of reference for the body.

APH papers should:

  • present, succinctly and accurately, all the information Ministers need to consider the proposed appointment properly; and
  • explain what process has been followed for the proposed appointment.

The next sections set out the required content of APH papers and the accompanying documents that should be attached to the paper.  The requirements for APH papers reflect the principles and practices set by Cabinet, and must be adhered to.

The timetable for APH meetings is available on the Cabinet and Cabinet Committees Workspace on the Public Sector Intranet (link only available to people with access to the PSI).  The deadline for submitting papers to APH is usually 10.00am the Thursday before the meeting.  As with most other proposals put to Cabinet, the matter is first considered by a Cabinet committee and then by Cabinet.  Officials do not usually attend meetings of the APH.

A summary of the Cabinet process for Cabinet papers on appointments

In some cases it will not be possible to complete the appointment groundwork before the APH submission is prepared, for example, if it is not possible or appropriate to contact the proposed appointee before Ministers consider the appointment.  In such cases, the paper should state that the appointment is contingent on the satisfactory resolution of any outstanding issues.  This is explained in more detail in the section on appointments that are contingent on obtaining further information.

The content of Cabinet papers regarding appointments

Papers prepared for APH should broadly follow the basic format for Cabinet and Cabinet committee papers.  The paper should address the various issues listed below and should usually be no longer than four pages, excluding attachments.  The State Services Commission's Board Appointments and Induction Guidelines provide detailed guidance on many of these issues with respect to appointments to statutory and other bodies, other than Crown entities.

  • Proposal - to appoint an individual or individuals to the board of an organisation for a specific term. 
  • Background information - the legislative provisions or government decisions that give rise to appointments to the particular organisation; who makes the appointment; the size of the board or organisation; the minimum and/or maximum number of members prescribed; any other relevant statutory or other consideration; any recent consideration by the committee or recent appointment that might affect the decision; whether the proposed appointee has been nominated by an organisation pursuant to a statute.
  • Comment on the reasons for the proposal - why the appointment is necessary; whether it is a replacement for a person whose term has expired (and if so, who); whether it involves the appointment of an additional member to the board; whether it is a reappointment and if so, how many terms the candidate has already served.
  • Description of the position - what the position involves; the qualifications required for the position (particularly qualifications required by statute in terms of the board's composition); time commitment associated with the appointment.
  • Minister's certification that an appropriate appointment process has been followed - see detailed guidance, including a suggested form of wording for inclusion in the paper.
  • Proposed appointee's qualifications for the position - the professional qualifications, relevant experience and personal attributes that make the proposed appointee suitable for the position, identifying any qualifications that meet statutory requirements and including any previous experience on statutory boards, and/or current government positions held by the proposed appointee (see also the section on accompanying documentation about the requirement to attach the CAB 50 CV form).
  • Commencement and expiry dates of the proposed term of the appointment.
  • How the proposed appointment will affect the composition of the board - how the appointment would enhance the achievement of a balance of skills and experience on the particular board.
  • A statement from the Minister confirming that full consideration has been given to the need to achieve appropriate gender, age, geographical and ethnic balance - this is to go under the heading "Representativeness of Appointment".
  • Minister's certification concerning conflicts of interest - a statement concerning conflicts of interest (includes a suggested form of wording for inclusion in the paper).
  • Any outstanding information that is required before the appointment can be made.
  • Any other matters affecting the suitability of the proposed appointee - other appointments held by the person in question; if a reappointment is involved, whether more than a second term is proposed; public perception issues; criminal convictions and so on.
  • Fees payable and whether this is a change - the classification of the body to which the appointment is being made; the level of fees payable to the proposed appointee; whether the fee is within the parameters of the fees framework; if not, the basis for going outside the terms of the framework and whether SSC and the Minister of State Services has been consulted.  For additional guidance, see Fees Framework for Members Appointed to Bodies in which the Crown has an Interest [Cabinet Office circular CO (12) 6] (for Crown bodies except Crown companies), or COMU's Crown Company Directors' Fees and Reimbursement Guidelines (for Crown companies).
  • Account of the consultation undertaken:
  • Whether there are publicity requirements or timing constraints.
  • Recommendations - specify whether the appointment is made by the Minister, or recommended by the Minister to the Governor-General, or made by the Minister on the recommendation of others, and so on. The recommendation must reflect the relevant statutory provision, with wording along the following lines:

"The Minister of [xx] recommends that the committee note his/her intention to appoint (or to recommend that the Governor-General, or the Governor-General in Council, appoints) [xx] to the [xx] board for a term commencing on [xx] and expiring on [xx] (or for a term of [xx] years commencing on the date of appointment), to replace [xx], whose term has expired."

An annotated example of an appointment paper is available from the Examples section of the CabGuide.

Where a large number of appointments are proposed in one paper, it is often clearer to set this out in table format. For advice, contact the secretary of the APH committee (link only available to people with access to the Public Sector Intranet).

Certification that an appropriate process has been followed

Cabinet has decided that Ministers must certify for each appointment that an appropriate appointment process has been followed. This requirement recognises that the appointment process should be tailored to suit each appointment (within the terms of the SSC/COMU appointment guidelines). It also ensures, however, that the process used is transparent in each case and can be assessed by APH and/or Cabinet as a whole.

Each submission must therefore contain a statement along the following lines:

"I can confirm that an appropriate process has been followed in selecting the proposed appointee, in terms of the SSC [or COMU] appointment guidelines.

In summary, that process comprised [specify steps taken, for example, consulting the COMU/Ministry of Women's Affairs/Te Puni Kokiri databases, discussions with the Board chair, consulting stakeholders (specify which), public advertising, using search consultants, interviewing candidates, reviewing the candidate's CV, and so on].

This process was appropriate for this appointment because [for example, the proposed appointee will chair the board of an important Crown entity with a $100 million budget and a comprehensive selection process was therefore warranted; or this vacancy arose suddenly because of the death of a Board member and an abridged appointment process was therefore necessary]."

Commencement and expiry dates for appointments

It may be prudent to recommend that a term commence on "the date of appointment", in order to avoid any problems associated with the time taken to complete the appointment process (for example, consultation, notification in the Gazette, and so on).

Appointments should not be backdated. This is because individuals should not be put in the position of being liable for decisions or actions taken before they were appointed. In the case of reappointments, backdating may be appropriate if the statutory provisions so permit.

Conflicts of interest

Cabinet has decided that Ministers must:

  • certify for each appointment that any conflicts of interest that could reasonably have been identified have been identified; and
  • where a conflict of interest has been identified, propose an appropriate regime for dealing with it.

Detailed guidance on the identification and management of conflicts of interest is contained in the SSC/COMU appointment guidelines. Those responsible for managing an appointment process must ensure that they have undertaken thorough enquiries and have carried out a full analysis of potential conflicts of interest in accordance with the SSC/COMU appointment guidelines, before completing this section of the APH paper.

Each paper must contain:

EITHER a statement stating:

"I can confirm that appropriate enquiries concerning conflicts of interest have been carried out, in accordance with the SSC [or COMU] appointment guidelines, to identify any conflict of interest that could reasonably be identified and:

Either: no conflicts of interest have been identified.

Or: the following conflicts of interest have been identified [explain the nature of the conflict of interest]. The following regime is proposed to deal with the conflict [specify]."

OR a statement stating:

"Information concerning conflicts of interest is still outstanding because [explain why]. The appointment will not be finalised before appropriate enquiries concerning conflicts of interest have been carried out in accordance with the SSC [or COMU] appointment guidance. I will report back to Cabinet on the outcome of those enquiries, either confirming that no conflicts of interest have been identified and that the appointment has been made or, if necessary, referring any conflict issue that has been identified to APH or Cabinet for further discussion."

Appointments that are contingent on obtaining further information

In some cases, the APH paper may be lacking particular information that is required before an appointment can be finalised.  For example, perhaps it has not been possible or appropriate to contact the candidate to confirm his or her availability for the appointment.  In such cases, finalisation of the appointment will be provisional on appropriate enquiries being undertaken and the satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.  The Minister should report back to APH or to Cabinet on the outcome of those enquiries, if a problem arises, for example, if the appointment is not confirmed or a conflict of interest problem is identified.

Accompanying documentation

Every Cabinet paper recommending an appointment must attach:

  • a completed copy of the curriculum vitae form (CAB 50) for each individual (this should provide a comprehensive and accurate summary of the individual's CV - ensure that all sections are completed);
  • a form listing current membership details and a brief outline of the functions and responsibilities of the organisation (CAB 51) (ensure that all sections are completed); and
  • a CAB 100 form, indicating what consultation has taken place in respect of the appointment.

Cabinet Office forms are available under the Tools > Forms section of the CabGuide.

Before the paper is submitted to the Minister for signature, a careful check should be made to ensure that the information both in the attachments and paper is complete, accurate and consistent with other documentation.