State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie tonight strongly refuted claims made in the media regarding the process to appoint Ian Fletcher to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Director position in 2011.

"Mr Fletcher is an outstanding public servant and this has been proven in Australia and the UK.  I am outraged that there has been baseless attacks on the credibility of Mr Fletcher's appointment," Mr Rennie said.

"Firstly those who applied in response to the advertisement were thoroughly considered. It is normal for recruitment consultants to make some initial selections of candidates for potential long and short lists based on their assessments. It is also normal for the State Services Commissioner to make judgements about which applicants, if any, should proceed to interview or to seek out additional candidates," Mr Rennie said.

"Interview panels established by SSC do not interview applicants unless it is believed that they could be suitable for appointment. This is a high bar. Sometimes only one candidate goes through to the panel interview stage as in this case."

"As was previously stated, a potential shortlist was prepared by a recruitment consultant but I advised the Prime Minister that, given the requirements of the job, that these candidates should not be considered further. Instead, further search should occur to identify a suitable candidate or candidates. "

"For this position, and I want to make this very clear, it was not essential to have a military or intelligence background. GCSB is a civilian agency, and the position description emphasised  the importance of leadership and change management expertise in this role. Leadership and change management expertise can be gained through experience in a variety of settings, as Mr Fletcher's background demonstrated," said Mr Rennie.

"Appointments to the position of Director of the GCSB is made on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, as the responsible Minister, to Cabinet."

"The selection panel was made up of people of high standing in the State services whose integrity is beyond question. The panel was aware that the Prime Minister and Mr Fletcher knew each other and had spoken on the telephone. This would not and did not influence the panel's decision or my recommendation to the Prime Minister."

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Media enquiries:  Lisa-Marie Richan, Director - Communications, SSC telephone  021 244 1361 

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