Appointment process for the Director, Government Communications Security Bureau
In recognition of the public interest in this matter, this page provides information about the 2011 appointment of Ian Fletcher as Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). Documents associated with the process are listed for download. Where information is not being disclosed, it is subject to an obligation of confidence or there is a need to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
The basis for the appointment
The appointment of the Director of the GCSB is made by the Governor-General under section 9 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003. This appointment is recommended by the Prime Minister. As noted in paragraph 3.24 of the Cabinet Manual, the Commissioner has a role in managing the appointment process for a range of other chief executives and senior officers in the executive branch of the State Services, beyond those for which the Commissioner has responsibility for under the State Sector Act. This is separate from most Public Service chief executives, who are appointed by the State Services Commissioner (the Commissioner) under the State Sector Act 1988.
The selection process
The Commissioner managed the selection process for the Director of GCSB role at the Prime Minister's request.
On 11 April 2011, the Prime Minister approved the position description as a basis for selecting a suitable candidate for appointment as Director of the GCSB.
The position was advertised on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 and Saturday, 14 May 2011, in the major daily newspapers in Auckland and Wellington, and electronically on New Zealand Government Jobs Online and the State Services Commission websites. Applications closed on Monday 30 May 2011. Applicants received the position description and a guide for applications.
The Commissioner engaged a recruitment and assessment consultant to assist him with the selection process. A briefing was provided to the recruitment consultant by SSC staff on the requirements for the position.
Eight applications were received by the close of applications, and the recruitment consultant approached three other possible candidates. The recruitment consultant evaluated the candidates who applied for the position against the criteria that are specified in the position description. The Commissioner asked the consultant to interview seven long-listed candidates. The recruitment consultant prepared a report on the long-listed candidates. The long-listing meeting was held on 7 June 2011, and included the Commissioner, the Acting Deputy State Services Commissioner, Helene Quilter, and recruitment consultants.
Four long-listed applicants that did not proceed to the next stage were advised of this on 9 June 2011. One further potential candidate did not seek to proceed to the next stage.
On 14 June 2011, Prime Minister agreed that the following members sit on the selection panel, as proposed by the Commissioner: Mr (now Sir) Maarten Wevers, Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Mr John McKinnon, Chief Executive and Secretary of Defence, Ministry of Defence; and Ms Helene Quilter, Acting Deputy State Services Commissioner (now Secretary of Defence). The Prime Minister was invited to suggest additional members of the panel but declined to do so. This is analogous to the usual chief executive appointment process under the State Sector Act. In the case of those appointments, section 35(4)(c) of that Act requires that such panels include 1 or more persons appointed by the Commissioner after consultation with the appropriate Minister(s).
On 23 June 2011, the recruitment consultant met with the Commissioner and Ms Quilter to review the long-listed candidates and identified a potential short-list of four candidates. It was agreed that the Commissioner would meet with the Prime Minister to make a decision on whether all or any of the candidates would proceed to the next stage.
The recruitment consultant contacted the potential short-list following this meeting. He advised these applicants that the Commissioner would discuss their candidacy with the Prime Minister, and that it would be the Prime Minister's decision whether or not they would proceed to the next stage. The recruitment consultant also advised these applicants of potential dates for assessment and the selection panel if their application proceeded.
On 6 July 2011, the Commissioner reported to the Prime Minister on the potential short-list of four candidates. The Commissioner advised the Prime Minister that he had concerns whether any of the candidates could undertake the role at the level of performance expected, given the context facing the GCSB. As the Prime Minister has indicated, it was agreed not to proceed further with the consideration of any of these candidates.
Given the priority of providing GCSB with a permanent director, the focus of discussion between the Prime Minister and Commissioner was on identifying further candidates during the current appointment process. However, if not successful, it was understood that the position would need to be re-advertised in early 2012.
As the Prime Minister has indicated, following the meeting with the Commissioner he contacted Mr Fletcher to advise him of the vacancy. Mr Wevers then advised the Commissioner of Mr Fletcher's possible interest in the position.
Following Mr Wevers' phone call, Mr Fletcher was provided with information on the position, to assess if he was interested. The Commissioner and Mr Fletcher had several conversations in mid-July 2011, initially following up on Mr Fletcher's call to Mr Wevers and then discussing subsequent queries that Mr Fletcher had about the position. On 22 July 2011, Mr Fletcher confirmed that he wished to be considered for the position.
As it became clear that the selection panel would be convened to consider a candidate, the recruitment consultant advised each of the four candidates discussed at the meeting with the Prime Minister that their individual candidacy was unsuccessful and that the selection panel would be considering other candidate or candidates.
The Commissioner convened the selection panel on 26 July 2011, drawing on a list of proposed interview questions. The panel agreed unanimously that Mr Fletcher demonstrated a good understanding of the challenges he would face in the role, that he has the intellectual capability to learn the requirements of the position, and that he would adjust to leading a government department quickly.
Mr Fletcher also completed an assessment process prior to the interview. As is usual practice, the selection panel received Mr Fletcher's assessment report before the interview and took into account advice by the psychologist that had been involved in the assessment.
When Mr Fletcher came to New Zealand for his interview, he also met Mr Simon Murdoch, Acting Director at GCSB, Dr Warren Tucker, Director, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and Mr Roy Ferguson, Director, Intelligence Coordination Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Once a candidate reaches the selection panel interview stage, it is usual for the candidate to receive general briefings on the agency and its context from both SSC and agency sources.
On 3 August 2011, the Commissioner had a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister to provide an update following the interview panel - advising the results of the selection panel review, and that referee and qualification checks would be undertaken. The Commissioner also recalls ringing the Prime Minister prior to submitting the appointment documentation referred to below to brief him on the outcome of the referee checks and also to discuss the appointment documentation that he would receive.
On 8 August 2011, the Commissioner met with Ms Quilter to discuss checking with Mr Fletcher’s referees. Ms Quilter undertook these checks on 9-15 August 2011. Checks were also undertaken to confirm Mr Fletcher's qualifications.
The Prime Minister's association with Mr Fletcher
As the Commissioner has said publicly, he recalls the Prime Minister telling him at a meeting in 2009 that he knew Mr Fletcher. During this meeting the Commissioner was discussing his general approach to the recruitment of chief executives. The Commissioner's recollection is that the Prime Minister advised him that he knew Mr Fletcher from school in Christchurch, and that he had met Mr Fletcher infrequently since then. The Commissioner already knew this information, as he had met Mr Fletcher earlier in 2009 and Mr Fletcher had disclosed his knowledge of the Prime Minister at that point.
Making the appointment
On 18 August 2011, the Commissioner sent a letter to the Prime Minister setting out his advice regarding the appointment of Ian Fletcher, and providing a proposed Cabinet paper on the appointment. On the Commissioner's advice, the Prime Minister decided that Mr Fletcher met the requirements of the position and was suitable for appointment.
On 22 August 2011, the Prime Minister submitted to Cabinet the paper noting his proposed recommendation. The Minister of State Services signed the Cabinet paper on the Prime Minister's behalf on 19 August 2011.
The Prime Minister then wrote to Governor-General Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO recommending the appointment of Mr Fletcher.
On 7 September 2011, the Commissioner wrote to Mr Fletcher confirming his appointment and setting out next steps for his security clearance, terms and conditions, and declaration of interests.
On 8 September 2011, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Mr Fletcher. The announcement is available from http://beehive.govt.nz/release/new-gcsb-director-appointed.
On 8 December 2011, the Commissioner wrote to the Prime Minister providing documentation for his consideration and signature regarding the appointment of Mr Fletcher and his conditions of appointment.
On 11 December 2011, the Prime Minister wrote to Mr Fletcher providing his warrant and setting out his conditions of appointment.
As part of this letter, Mr Fletcher was asked to declare any interests that he or members of his immediate family have that may conflict with those of the Crown. He responded that neither he nor his family had interests that may conflict with those of the Crown.
Mr Fletcher's conditions of appointment included provision for relocation expenses, to be covered by the GCSB.
The overall cost for consultancies and other fees associated with this process was $59,252.62 (including GST). As is usual for such appointments, this amount was cost-recovered by SSC from the GCSB.
The following documents associated with the appointment of Ian Fletcher as Director, GCSB are available. Where information has been withheld pursuant to the Official Information Act 1982, the relevant section of that Act is indicated.
Media statements made by the State Services Commissioner are available at these links:
- Statement on the Appointment of GCSB Director (28 March 2013)
- Further statement from Iain Rennie regarding GCSB appointment (3 April 2013)