The two final candidates to be head of the civil service are individuals who both have links to the Renewable Heat Incentive, the News Letter understands.
Stormont’s top mandarin, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, is to retire at the end of next month, having served in the top Stormont Castle post since 2011.
The first round of interviews to succeed him have already taken place and it is understood that the two final candidates are David Sterling and Andrew McCormick.
Both men served as permanent secretary (the most senior official in a department) of the old Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) during the period in which there were serious problems with the RHI scheme.
Mr Sterling was there from the start of the scheme until 2014, at which point Mr McCormick took over. Both men have already appeared before the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee in recent months as part of its inquiry into the scheme.
Mr McCormick is now permanent secretary of the Department for the Economy, while Mr Sterling is the top official at the Department of Finance.
It is understood that both men will be interviewed by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as part of the appointment process.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office said: “We do not comment on live recruitment competitions. Information relating to the process is contained with the NICS Recruitment Policy and Procedures Manual.”