Executive agencies are established by Ministers as part of Scottish Government departments, or as departments in their own right, to carry out a discrete area of work. Agencies are staffed by civil servants.
Executive agencies were first established following Sir Robin Ibbs' (then head of the Efficiency Unit) "Next Steps" Report in 1988. The intention was that they would take responsibility for, and bring a new, more customer-focused approach to, individual executive (service delivery) functions within government. This would leave their parent departments to concentrate on policy development, although this boundary can be very blurred.