Chief Executive of the council
Since June 2014 every local authority has a chief executive (formerly called a county or city manager) who is employed to manage their local authority. Some local authorities share a chief executive.
The chief executive performs the executive functions of the city council, county council or city and county council. He or she supervises, co-ordinates, manages and pays the employees and officers of the council. He or she also makes contracts on behalf of the council and affixes the official seal of the council on documents. The law (Local Government Act 2001 as amended by Section 54 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014) clearly states that “For every county, city and city and county there shall be a chief executive to be known as ‘the Chief Executive of.......’(followed by the name of the city council, county council or city and county council, as the case may be).”
Deputy chief executive
As well as the chief executive, some councils also have deputy chief executives. After consultation with the Cathaoirleach of the local authority, the chief executive may appoint a council employee as deputy chief executive to act on their behalf while they are on leave or absent.
In situations where the chief executive is temporarily unable to act and there is no deputy chief executive, Section 148 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended by the 2014 Act, allows the cathaoirleach or the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to appoint a council employee as deputy chief executive temporarily. This temporary appointment may be terminated at any time.
Chief executives are recruited through a competitive recruitment process organised by the Public Appointments Service. Where a position of chief executive becomes vacant the Minister is required to appoint someone to the position temporarily until a permanent appointment to the position is made. Such a temporary appointment may be terminated by the Minister at any time.
Once appointed, the chief executive will remain in office for a term of 7 years (although this can also be extended by an additional 3 years). The retirement age for chief executives is 65.
If a council wishes to suspend or remove a chief executive, a resolution must be passed by the council. At least three-quarters of the councillors must vote for the resolution. The Minister then sanctions the removal of the chief executive.
Delegation of the chief executive’s functions
It is normal practice that the chief executive of a local authority delegates some functions to other staff in the local authority. The elected council must be notified of any delegated functions. However, the chief executive still remains responsible for the acts of the delegate and can take back (that is, revoke) a responsibility that has been delegated. The chief executive has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the local authority operates smoothly and for carrying into effect policy decisions of the elected council.
Where to apply
The Public Appointments Service