The term Scottish Executive is used in two different, but closely-related senses: to denote the executive arm of Scotland's national legislature, ie. the government of Scottish Ministers, but also to denote the civil service supporting that government. In 2007 the incoming SNP administration changed the name to The Scottish Government.
The head office of the Executive is at St Andrew's House, on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Some departments are based in Leith, Pentland House in Gorgie and Chambers Street in central Edinburgh. The Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department is located in central Glasgow, and its European Office is located at Rond Point Schuman in Brussels, Belgium.
There are also several executive agencies which are part of the Scottish Executive, and which are also accountable to Scottish Ministers. These include: Historic Scotland, Communities Scotland, Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, National Archives of Scotland, Scottish Court Services, Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, Social Work Inspection Agency, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Transport Scotland, and the Scottish Prison Service. The full list may be found on the Wikipedia: List of Scottish Executive agencies page.
Public Relations and spin
PR Companies hired by the Scottish Executive
- Q. How many PR companies and public affairs agencies have been hired by the Scottish Executive in each of the last three years? For what purpose were these companies hired, how long were they employed and what was the value of the contracts.
- A. The Scottish Executive Marketing Unit put in place a contract for PR on the 1 August 2004. Prior to this, all PR work was sub contracted by the creative advertising agencies on the Scottish Executive Contract. The Marketing Unit has not hired Public Affairs agencies.
- The following PR companies have been hired by the Scottish Executive since the 1 August 2004 to promote the Scottish Executive public information campaigns. Payments from 1 August to 28 February 2005 are as follows:
PR Company Total paid by the Scottish Executive
- Barkers £103,711
- Citigate Smarts £53,094
- Consolidated Communications £189,127
- The Big Partnership £103,722 
Advertising & Research Agencies 2001 to 2004
- Barkers: £1,972,722.44 (2003/4). £3,251,708.84 (2002/3). £2,549,391.49 (2001/2)
- Faulds Advertising: £336,389.62 (2003/4). £2,350,429.87 (2002/3). £2,552,781.46 (2001/2)
- Union Advertising Agency: £1,362,058.49 (2003/4).
- Yellow M: £11,450.86 (2002/3). £154,340.01 (2001/2).
- Market Research UK: £79,171.53 (2003/4)
- MVA: £14,100.00 (2003/4)
- NFO: £81,122.02 (2003/4)
- Progressive Partnership: £13,504.87 (2003/4)
- TRBI: £8,029.96 (2003/4) 
Special Advisors to Donald Dewar, 1999-2000
The Herald reported :
- David Whitton: Head of strategic communications, in other words press adviser to the First Minister. Experienced newspaper and television journalist whom Mr Dewar says carries his full confidence. Was given a rocket by his boss yesterday and forced to issue a grovelling statement expressing regret and offering an unreserved retraction, later upgraded to full-scale apology as John Rafferty threatened to sue. Though bruised, still respected by most but not all of the Holyrood press pack.
- Brian Fitzpatrick: Head of the policy unit. An advocate who has found himself under attack by the SNP in Holyrood for allegedly saying of a fellow lawyer with whom he had a disagreement that he would never become a sheriff. This was seen by some as an abuse of power but Fitzpatrick denies the charge. Was tipped to take over from John Rafferty but so far disappointed. A close ally of Chancellor Gordon Brown and was an unsuccessful list candidate for Labour at the Scottish General Election.
- John MacLaren: Described by Mr Dewar as an experienced economist, he worked at the former Scottish Office before moving seamlessly to the Labour Party and then into the First Minister's inner circle. Familiar face who comes armed with sheaves of statistics to press conferences where Labour knocks down SNP economic arguments.
- Donald Maclennan: Professor who holds the Mactaggart chair of land economics and finance at Glasgow University. Joined the policy unit as a special adviser to Wendy Alexander on housing and social inclusion.
- Neil Gillam: Young son of prominent lawyer, assistant to David Whitton, came from PR background in the financial sector.
- Chris Winslow: Former chairman of Labour Scottish Students and very much a party insider. Friendly with John Reid's son Kevin, formerly of Beattie Media and Christina Marshall - daughter of MP David Marshall and ex-Beattie employee before becoming constituency secretary to Finance Minister Jack McConnell. These links meant his name came up during the Standards Committee inquiry into Lobbygate.
- Sam Ghibaldan: Advises Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace "across the range of the Executives work." He got to know Mr Wallace when he was seconded from Lib Dem HQ in London to help the Scotland FORward referendum campaign.
Special Advisers to Jack McConnell
Scottish Executive bodies and committees
- Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Executive
- Financial Services Advisory Board
- Management Group of the Scottish Executive
- Scottish Government Website About: PR companies hired by SE, accessed Nov 2008
- Scott Porter Research and Marketing Ltd Clients Accessed 6th May 2008
- The Scottish Government Advertising and Research Agencies Hired in the Last Three Years Accessed 13th September 2008
- Murray Ritchie And Robbie Dinwoodie 'Two down and seven to go, says Canavan' The Herald (Glasgow), January 27, 2000, Pg. 6