Head of Civil Service to leave his post

Date published: 14 September 2016

The Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, is to step down from his post at the end of January.


Appointed in 2011, Sir Malcolm has led the Civil Service through its most radical change programme since the 1970’s.

An open external competition will commence shortly to find his successor.

First Minister, the Rt Hon Arlene Foster said: “Over the past five years, Sir Malcolm has been instrumental in helping to lead and reshape the Northern Ireland Civil Service and his leadership has displayed the best attributes of our public servants.

 “He oversaw the reduction in the number of government departments from 12 to nine, reduced the size of the Civil Service by 17% through the Voluntary Exit Scheme, saw major growth in online public services and helped the Executive move towards an outcome focused Programme for Government.

 “I thank Sir Malcolm for his public service and dedication to us and wish him and his family well for the future.”

 The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said:  “As Head of the Civil Service, Malcolm has led by example and served Ministers and the entire Executive with integrity and impartiality.

“He provided sound and constructive advice to Ministers and over the last few years, was heavily involved in the various political talks between the Executive parties, including those which resulted in both the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements.

 “I thank and wish Malcolm every success in whatever he chooses to do next.”

Sir Malcolm McKibbin said: “The role of the Northern Ireland Civil Service is to support Ministers, develop their policies, implement the Executive’s Programme for Government and deliver the best possible public services. 

“Against a challenging backdrop of increasing demand and finite resources, it has been an honour and a privilege to successfully lead the Civil Service through its most radical reform programme in over 40 years so that today, it is well placed to meet the challenges of the future. It has been an amazing experience and I have enjoyed wonderful support from all my colleagues.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Before his appointment as head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Malcolm served as Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2007-2010 and was Permanent Secretary of the Department for Regional Development from 2010-2011.
  2. He was appointed Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service in October 2011.
  3. He studied at Southampton University and graduated in 1978 with an honours degree in Civil Engineering and joined the Department of the Environment. He is a Charted Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineering.
  4. Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. A photograph of Sir Malcolm McKibbin is available via The Executive Office website.

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