The Executive Office is keen to find an outsider to lead the Northern Ireland Civil Service and implement sweeping reforms, according to a senior Stormont source.
He was speaking after Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill failed to appoint anyone out of three internal candidates they interviewed for the position.
The source said that the salary for the job should be raised to attract the "fresh blood" needed to shake up the civil service.
"The salary that was offered simply wasn't high enough," he said. "It's one of the most powerful jobs in Northern Ireland but managing directors in the private sector are paid very significantly more.
"A package of £188,000 was being offered for a job with a £20bn budget and 23,000 staff. The director-general of the BBC is paid £525,000 for managing the same number of staff and a £5bn budget."
The source said that it was vital to bring in an outsider to reform the system. The civil service was more heavily criticised than politicians in the RHI report, he said. The source questioned its failure to deliver on "big infrastructure projects" when devolution was suspended.
Earlier this month, Boris Johnson appointed Simon Case as Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service.
The hiring of the 41-year-old - the youngest ever Cabinet Secretary in living memory and relative outsider - raised eyebrows.
It is understood that the three candidates interviewed by Mrs Foster and Ms O'Neill on Wednesday were Peter May, the permanent secretary at the Justice Department; Sue Gray, permanent secretary at the Department of Finance, and Richard Pengelly, permanent secretary at the Department of Health.
The Stormont source said it was unlikely that any of the three unsuccessful candidates would be appointed interim head of the civil service.
A spokesperson for The Executive Office said: "The First Minister and Deputy First Minister have not made an appointment following the recent competition for the head of the civil service. Next steps are currently being considered."
The former head of the civil service, David Sterling, announced his plan to retire last December. SDLP MLA Colin McGrath, who is chairman of Mrs Foster and Ms O'Neill's Assembly scrutiny committee, said it was "inconceivable" that the ministers had been unable to identify his replacement in 10 months.
"It is incredible, given the extended notice period, that we're now left in a situation where the joint First Ministers have been unable to appoint a replacement and the office of our most senior civil servant is vacant," he said.
"This speaks to total dysfunctionality. We're in the middle of a global pandemic, our economy is under severe pressure and we're facing the chaos of Brexit. This is a moment when we need government to operate efficiently and effectively. It is a serious concern that we will not have a head of the civil service to implement executive decisions quickly."
UUP leader Steve Aiken described the failure by Mrs Foster and Ms O'Neill to appoint someone to the position was "disquieting". He said: "That they have failed in one of the most important recruitment processes within government at the height of a global pandemic, when resolute and effective leadership is needed at the centre of government, demonstrates again the collective inadequacies of the current system."