Joined-up, more convenient services in reach with Public Service reform plan

  • Hon Chris Hipkins
State Services

Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today launched a public consultation process ahead of the most significant reform of New Zealand’s Public Service in 30 years.

The proposed changes involve a major shift in the way the Public Service operates.

“The changes would drive two wider outcomes,” Chris Hipkins said.

“On a system wide level, the changes would see the Public Service operate as one, joined up system to tackle the big, complex challenges facing New Zealand. The Public Service would have more capability to wrap multiple services around the needs of citizens.

“Under the current model individual departments deliver services that they have sole accountability for. This doesn’t work as well when agencies need to be working collectively where citizens often must deal with a number of different agencies on a single issue.

“Much more convenient public services is also a major driver. The public rightly expects more seamless and easy to access services from Government, when too often the information and advice they get is siloed. The changes we are seeking would break down these barriers and put citizens at the centre of service delivery.”

“One example of how public services can be improved are during so-called ‘life events’.

“There are at least a dozen occasions in everybody’s lives that require major interactions with the government. The birth of a child, moving house, moving jobs, retirement, the death of a close family member are all examples of where having one single contact with government would be much better for citizens.”

The proposed reforms are now open to public discussion. Stakeholders and the public are encouraged to have their say and help reshape the country’s Public Service, Chris Hipkins said.

“The changes will make it easier for the Public Service to mobilise quickly around the priorities of the Government and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“Our aim is for New Zealand to have the world’s best public service. We want a public service that is compassionate, unified and motivated by a spirit of service to the community.”

Under the changes, the Public Service would be given a range of flexible organisational options to deliver better services and outcomes. Some of those options include:

  • Executive Board of chief executives: This would mean chief executives are jointly responsible for achieving complex government priorities
  • Joint Ventures: This would allow the Public Service to join up people and resources from different agencies to work on common issues
  • One stop shops: Bringing related services together at a single point.

The Government also proposed to include in legislation the purpose, principles and values of the Public Service, Chris Hipkins said.

“It’s a simple thing but spelling out the purpose, the principles and values will provide the foundations on which the Public Service operates which I believe will have a unifying effect. 

“It’s about ensuring the Public Service is imbued with a spirit of service, acts with integrity, and fulfils its constitutional role supporting Executive Government.”

Consultation ends on 12 October. A Bill is likely to be introduced in the middle of next year.

“It’s important New Zealanders have a say,” said Mr Hipkins. “It’s their public service.”

Official State Services Commission reports supporting the proposed reforms are here.