PUBLIC SECTOR: Audit Commission selects Douglas to direct comms

The Audit Commission has appointed former Transport for London (TfL) PR chief Colin Douglas as its first director of communications.

He is the first board-level PR head at the public spending watchdog and leads a 40-strong team. The position was created following a review overseen by Commission controller Sir Andrew Foster, who Douglas will report to when he joins in April.

One of Douglas's main tasks will be to drive though the Commission's stepping up of local and regional PR.

A Commission spokeswoman said: 'We want to focus on the end-users at a local level more - that is a key strategy for us.'

Working alongside Douglas on local-level communications issues will be Catherine Staite, recently appointed to the newly created role of head of user focus.

Local initiatives so far include the citizen-focused audits, which are being piloted in 14 areas, including Birmingham, Hampshire and Lewisham. These are expected to be rolled out nationwide and involve surveys and focus groups of residents.

Reporting to Douglas are Rachel Pile, Gail Scott-Spicer Ruth Davison and Tanya Hyams-Young, who head publications, marketing, the press office and e-comms respectively.

The Audit Commission post will be Douglas's first role since resigning from TfL, where he also held the title director of communications, after just six months.

He told PRWeek at the time that he was leaving for 'personal reasons' (PRWeek, 7 December 2001).

Prior to TfL, Douglas was director of communications at Sport England.

He has also worked for lobbying firm Citigate Westminster, where he was a director.

Before the creation of Douglas's post, PR was headed by Tim Whitaker, whose head of communications role was axed last year.

Whitaker remains at the Commission as a strategic PR adviser.

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