Sir Peter James Housden, KCB (born 1950) is Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government since July 2010.  He was previously Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
He was educated at Grove Comprehensive School, Market Drayton, Shropshire and at the University of Essex where he took a First in Social Science. After graduating in 1973, Peter Housden began his career as a comprehensive school teacher in Shropshire and worked as an education officer in three county LEAs before being appointed as Director of Education in Nottinghamshire in 1991. In 1994, Peter was appointed as Chief Executive and in his seven years in that post managed Nottinghamshire County Council through Local Government Review and a wide-ranging programme of modernisation. In September 2000 he was seconded to the Audit Commission for six months to lead their work on the NHS National Plan.
Housden joined the Department for Education and Skills in November 2001 as Director General for Schools. He had overall responsibility for all the Department's work in schools and in early years, and for current priorities on primary standards and secondary reform. He held this role until his appointment as Permanent Secretary of ODPM in 2005. 
Peter Housden is an associate fellow of Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick, and a Trustee of the Work Foundation. His publications include 'Local Statesman', an oral history of post-war local government in Nottinghamshire published by the Local Government Centre, Warwick University in 2000, and 'Bucking the Market: LEAs and Special Needs' (NASEN, 1993). He is also a Member of the Council of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
In his current role as Scotland's Permanent Secretary, Sir Peter is the senior Civil Servant in Scotland and leads more than 5000 civil servants working for the Scottish Government. In that role, his impartiality over Scottish Independence has been called into question.
Sir Peter is the principal policy adviser to Scotland's First Minister and Secretary to the Cabinet. He is also the Principal Accountable Officer for the Scottish Government, with personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of Government finance and for economic, efficient and effective use of all related resources.
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 2010.
- "Scotland's most senior civil servant 'intimidated bosses’ over referendum". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 September 2014.