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Bill English, Jonathan Coleman

21 June, 2012

Legislation reforms to improve public services

The Government intends to introduce a package of legislative changes to help the public sector achieve better results for New Zealanders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman say.

As indicated in the Budget last month, the Government has started consulting other parties on changes to the State Sector, Public Finance and Crown Entities Acts as part of its Better Public Services reforms.

“The Government is committed to building a more innovative, efficient public sector that delivers better results for New Zealanders,” Mr English says.

“These changes will help agencies organise themselves around achieving results and delivering services to New Zealanders, rather than working along narrow departmental lines.”

Dr Coleman says the changes will give the public sector more flexibility to innovate.

“New Zealand’s State sector has many strengths, but we want to change key aspects of the governing legislation to make it more responsive to change.

“As well as enhancing collaboration, these changes will strengthen leadership and ensure departments can leverage economies of scale,” Dr Coleman says.

The proposed changes provide a wider range of public sector management tools to support and encourage:

  • Government agencies collaborating more and organising themselves around results.
  • Government agencies sharing functions and services, purchasing goods and services, and developing systems together in order to leverage the scale and expertise of the State sector.
  • Greater financial and reporting flexibility and the provision of more meaningful performance information to Parliament.
  • Stronger leadership at the system, sector and departmental level to achieve the desired change in the performance of the State sector.

The Government intends to consult other political parties over the next few weeks and to introduce legislation later this year.

More information on the Government’s Better Public Services reforms can be found at: www.ssc.govt.nz/better-public-services

Fact sheet – Better Public Services legislation changes

The proposed changes to the State Sector Act 1988 will:

  • Strengthen the State Services Commissioner’s role in leading the State services.
  • Extend chief executives’ responsibilities to consider the collective interests of government and longer-term sustainability, rather than focusing on single departments or agencies.
  • Add a new organisational arrangement – Departmental Agencies - to the options available for delivering public services. These operational agencies would be set up within a department to carry out a specific function and their chief executive will report directly to a minister.
  • Improve governance across the system.
  • Ensure the State Sector Act is modern, flexible and generally fit for purpose.

The proposed changes to the Public Finance Act 1989 will:

  • Clarify chief executives’ responsibilities for strategic financial management and financial stewardship.
  • Improve financial flexibility to support innovation and different ways of working within government.
  • Provide more meaningful information to Parliament about what the government is spending and achieving.
  • Encourage more strategic reporting on future intentions, and reduce related compliance costs.
  • Specify the governance regime for Public Finance Act Schedule 4 companies.

The proposed changes to the Crown Entities Act 2004 will:

  • Support sector-wide leadership by strengthening the alignment of Crown entities.
  • Support leadership of particular functions across entities by expanding the scope for the use of whole-of-government directions.
  • Simplify, streamline, and improve planning and reporting provisions.
  • Formalise the role of the monitoring department and the Minister of State Services’ ability to request information.
  • Improve the operation of the legislation.
  • Bill English
  • Jonathan Coleman
  • Deputy Prime Minister
  • State Services