03 April 2013

The GCSB Director's appointment process involves the Governor-General

The State Services Commissioner, Mr Rennie, has assured the public that a panel chaired by him interviewed the successful candidate for Director of the GCSB, Mr Ian Fletcher, in July 2011. The Commissioner recommended Mr Fletcher to the Prime Minister (who is Minister responsible for the GCSB), and the Commissioner has assured us that "his candidacy was considered in the rigorous process all chief executive candidates are required to undergo.”
But the GCSB Act does not require the SSC to be involved at all in the appointment of its Director. Section 44 of the State Sector Act 1988 makes it clear that the normal processes under that Act for the recruitment and selection of state-sector chief executives do not apply to the appointment of the Director of the GCSB. Instead, section 9 of the GCSB Act 2003 states that the Director of the Bureau "is appointed by [and] holds office during the pleasure of the Governor-General." It may not be inappropriate that the PM should have been involved or consulted in the appointment, nor that the SSC should have assisted, but, under the law, the appointment is simply made by the Governor-General.
Normally, CE's are appointed by the Governor-General in Council, based on the recommendation of the State Services Commissioner. It sounds like this latter kind of "rigorous process" has been followed, even though the GCSB Act does not strictly require the involvement of the SSC.
But, to make things more interesting, the present Governor-General was himself the former Director of GCSB. According to his own website, "retiring from the NZDF in January 2011, he [Sir Jerry] was appointed as Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau." It was from that very post that he was elevated to his present office by the Queen, an appointment that is made on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. So, in effect, the Governor-General has appointed his own successor to a CE post that reports to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister recommended Sir Jerry as Governor-General, and then called on his old acquaintance, Mr Fletcher, to apply for the job that the Governor-General had recently vacated and that the Governor-General decides upon.
A "rigorous process"...?


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