In the United Kingdom, a non-departmental public body (NDPB)—often referred to as a quango—is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to certain types of public bodies. They are not an integral part of a government department and carry out their work at arm's length from Ministers, although Ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.
The term includes the four types of NDPB (executive, advisory, tribunal and Independent Monitoring Boards) but excludes public corporations, National Health Service (NHS) bodies and public broadcasting authorities (BBC and S4C).
In 2010 the UK's Conservative-Liberal coalition published a review of NDPBs recommending closure or merger of nearly two hundred bodies, and the transfer of others to the private sector.. This process is colloquially termed the "bonfire of the quangos".
Types of body
There are four main types of body.
These bodies consist of boards which advise ministers on particular policy areas. They are often supported by a small secretariat from the parent department and any expenditure is paid for by that department.
These bodies usually deliver a particular public service and are overseen by a board rather than ministers. Appointments are made by ministers following the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. They employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets.
These bodies have jurisdiction in an area of the law. They are co-ordinated by the Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, and supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, itself a NDPB sponsored by the Ministry of Justice.
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