The First and Deputy First Ministers have sent a letter to MLAs outlining the procedure for electing a future Justice Minister.
The development comes as the Secretary of State Shaun Woodward told an audience in the US that the devolution of policing and justice remains on track despite the “sometimes perplexing rhetoric” of Northern Ireland's politicians.
Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness yesterday sent out the correspondence to Assembly members which states that both main parties have agreed not to nominate a candidate for the role, but have said the occupant must secure cross-community support in a vote at the Assembly.
That marks out the non-aligned Alliance party as the clear favourite to take the portfolio.
Mr Woodward said he was confident that the transfer of law and order powers from Westminster and other outstanding pieces of the peace process jigsaw could be put in place.
Sinn Fein and the DUP are embroiled in a bitter spat over the issue.
But addressing an audience at Harvard University, Mr Woodward said: “We stand now on the edge of completing devolution.
“I know that sometimes the rhetoric can be perplexing but I urge everyone to listen carefully both to what is said and what is not said.
“The road to completing devolution, despite the occasional loud rhetoric, also is one of progress,” he added.