Head of Northern Ireland civil service to stand down

By on 15/09/2016 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Sir Malcolm MiKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), Permanent Secretary of the Executive Office and Secretary to the Northern Ireland Executive

Northern Ireland’s most senior civil servant, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, is to stand down from his post at the beginning of 2017.

McKibbin has been head of the Northern Ireland civil service since 2011 with overall responsibility for the province’s 22,000 civil servants and the work of its nine government departments.

During his time in office, McKibbin has overseen what has been described as the most radical change programme in the Northern Ireland civil service since the 1970s. This has seen a scaling back in the number of government departments and a reduction in the civil service headcount from 27,000 down to current levels.

Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, said: “Over the past five years, Sir Malcolm has been instrumental in helping to lead and reshape the Northern Ireland civil service and his leadership has displayed the best attributes of our public servants.

“He oversaw the reduction in the number of government departments from 12 to nine, reduced the size of the civil service by 17% through the Voluntary Exit Scheme, saw major growth in online public services and helped the executive move towards an outcome-focused programme for government.”

In 2015 he was also closely involved in brokering the so-called Fresh Start Agreement that was necessitated after a series of political disputes threatened to destabilise Northern Ireland’s devolved administration.

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said: “As head of the civil service, Malcolm has led by example and served ministers and the entire executive with integrity and impartiality. He provided sound and constructive advice to ministers and over the last few years, was heavily involved in the various political talks between the executive parties, including those which resulted in both the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements.”

Prior to his appointment to head of the Northern Ireland civil service in October 2011, McKibbin spent four years as permanent secretary in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and a year as permanent secretary in the Department for Regional Development.

In a statement on his departure, McKibbin said: “Against a challenging backdrop of increasing demand and finite resources, it has been an honour and a privilege to successfully lead the Civil Service through its most radical reform programme in over 40 years, so that today it is well placed to meet the challenges of the future. It has been an amazing experience and I have enjoyed wonderful support from all my colleagues.”

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About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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