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Scottish Government

The Scottish Government (Scottish Gaelic: Riaghaltas na h-Alba; Scots: Scots Govrenment) is the executive in Scotland for areas of public policy which are not reserved. The government was established in 1999 as the Scottish Executive under the Scotland Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Scotland in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on Scottish devolution. Following increasing use of the name "government" in place of "executive" during the first decade of the 21st century, its name was formally changed in law to Scottish Government by the Scotland Act 2012.

The Scottish Cabinet is the group of ministers who are collectively responsible for all Scottish Government policy. While parliament is in session, the cabinet meets weekly. Normally meetings are held on Tuesday afternoons in Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister. The cabinet consists of the cabinet secretaries, excluding the Scottish Law Officers (the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General). The Lord Advocate attends meetings of the cabinet only when requested by the first minister, and he is not formally a member.

Scottish Government also includes a civil service that supports the Scottish ministers. According to 2012 reports, there are 16,000 civil servants working in core Scottish Government directorates and agencies. The civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster (rather than devolved to Holyrood): Scottish Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than British government.

The permanent secretary is the most senior Scottish civil servant, leads the strategic board, and supports the first minister and cabinet. The current permanent secretary is Leslie Evans, who assumed the post in July 2015.

The permanent secretary is a member of Her Majesty's Civil Service, and therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries management group of the Civil Service and is answerable to the most senior civil servant in Britain, the Cabinet Secretary (not to be confused with Scottish Government cabinet secretaries), for his or her professional conduct. He or she remains, however, at the direction of the Scottish ministers.

The strategic board is composed of the permanent secretary, the six directors-general, two chief advisers (scientific and economic) and four non-executive directors. The board is responsible for providing support to the government through the permanent secretary, and is the executive of the Scottish civil service.

To deliver its work, there are 9 executive agencies established by ministers as part of government departments, or as departments in their own right, to carry out a discrete area of work. These include, for example, the Scottish Prison Service and Transport Scotland. Executive agencies are staffed by civil servants.

There are two non-ministerial departments that form part of the Scottish administration, and therefore the devolved administration, but answer directly to the Scottish Parliament rather than to ministers: these are the General Register Office for Scotland and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The Scottish Government is also responsible for a large number of non-departmental public bodies. These include executive NDPBs (e.g. Scottish Enterprise); advisory NDPBs (e.g. the Scottish Law Commission); tribunals (e.g. the Children's Panel and Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland); and nationalised industries (e.g. Scottish Water). These are staffed by public servants, rather than civil servants.

The Scottish Government is also responsible for some other public bodies that are not classed as non-departmental public bodies, such as NHS Boards, Visiting Committees for Scottish Penal Establishments or HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland.

Scottish politicians, including the Labour first minister, had often referred to the executive as the "government" and this trend increased following the 2007 election, when the SNP took office and Labour were in opposition for the first time. On 2 September 2007, the SNP minority government announced that the Scottish Executive was to be retitled as the "Scottish Government".