Role details

Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland

Application deadline 12 February 2023


Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland
Sponsor department
Northern Ireland Office
Northern Ireland
Business, Finance & Skills
Commercial, Communication, Technology / Digital, Regulation
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
5 day(s) per week
£74912 to £84122 per annum
Length of term
Five years
Application deadline
11:59pm on 12 February 2023

Apply for this role

Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    18 January 2023

  2. Application deadline

    11:59pm on 12 February 2023

  3. Sifting date

    24 February 2023

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    10 March 2023

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

Person specification

Essential criteria

Candidates for this demanding role will need to demonstrate the following core competences:

  • Setting direction - an understanding of the political and public sector context in which the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland operates, able to set and prioritise strategic outcomes and deliver operational change, with a focus on improving service delivery and value for money;

  • Delivering results - ability to identify economic, market and customer issues, using these to promote innovative business models and commercial agreements that deliver greatest value;

  • Making effective decisions - ability to analyse complex strategic issues that cut across all aspects of the business and demonstrate sound judgement to minimise risks and achieve effective outcomes;

  • Communicating and collaborating - demonstrate excellent external and internal communication skills, with an ability to develop a strong collaborative culture during a period of organisational change.   

Role description


The position of Chief Electoral Officer will become vacant with effect from 1 April 2023. 

The role is a challenging but rewarding opportunity. It calls for an outstanding individual with good judgement, resilience and sensitivity; someone with a track record of achievement at board or senior executive level in the private or public sector; someone experienced in financial management and meeting challenging performance objectives. 

The successful applicant will be someone who can give strategic and operational direction to the work of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, provide strong leadership and build an inclusive organisation. Critically, the successful candidate must be able to command cross-community respect and confidence in Northern Ireland. 

Role description

The current responsibilities of the post include: 

  • Leading the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland through a period of significant electoral reform and ensuring that the office remains on a sustainable footing to deliver electoral services over the longer term;

  • Corporate accountability for ensuring that appropriate controls are in place and that resources are used efficiently and effectively, giving value for money;

  • Maintaining good working relationships with key stakeholders including the UK-wide Electoral Commission, political party representatives and district councils;

  • Acting as the Returning Officer for all elections and referendums and as the Petition Officer for recall petitions within Northern Ireland;

  • Maintaining the Register of Electors for Northern Ireland, including ensuring that the register is accurate and promoting registration across all sections of society;

  • Making recommendations to the Secretary of State in relation to the practical implementation of electoral legislation in Northern Ireland;

  • Minimising the scope for electoral fraud and abuse whilst maintaining public confidence in the impartial and independent electoral service;

  • Preparing polling station schemes that facilitate access for all electors; and

  • Acting as Assessor to the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner and the District Electoral Area Commissioner.

Organisation description

The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI) is the name given to the group of permanent (approximately 36 employees) and casual staff who support the Chief Electoral Officer in the performance of their duties.  It has no separate statutory existence or responsibilities.  It operates from a headquarters building in Belfast. 

Further information on the work of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland can be found at

Regulation of appointment

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s website.

Application and selection process

How to apply

Applications should be sent by email to:

The closing date for applications is 12 February 2023.

Please enclose with your application:

  • The completed application summary form, including your personal statement (of no more than two sides of A4) summarising your proven ability related to the person and job specifications. Your personal statement should provide specific and detailed examples to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria (including what you did to achieve a specific result);

  • Completed Equality & Diversity Monitoring Questionnaire; and

  • A full CV (including education and professional qualifications, career history, and relevant achievements and responsibilities).

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Panel members include:
  • Chris Flatt, Senior Northern Ireland Office Sponsor for the CEO (Panel Chair)
  • Deirdre Toner, Chair of Civil Service Commissioners for Northern Ireland (Senior Independent Panel Member)
  • Graham Shields, Former Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland (Independent Panel Member)

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake a Security Check (SC) prior to taking up the appointment.

Additional information for candidates

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. 

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.
The NIO will use your data in line with our privacy policy.

Contact details

Please refer to the Candidate Information Booklet for further information.