The Auckland Policy Office

The Auckland Policy Office's purpose

As well as acting as a central government hub, the Auckland Policy Office is geared towards building a better understanding of the needs of Auckland and its communities.
The Auckland Policy Office (APO) has a key role in keeping agencies aware of the issues and opportunities emerging in Auckland and understanding how best to respond to them.
The APO supports the State Services Commission’s ambition to help government agencies provide better, more joined up services to New Zealanders.  We are striving to make sure people get what they need, when they need it as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Building a stronger government presence in Auckland

The pace of change and growth in Auckland poses issues and opportunities not just for the city, but for all New Zealanders. Auckland’s rapid growth, its growing diversity and developments such as the establishment of the combined Auckland Council have combined to heighten the need for stronger central government leadership in our largest city.

Facilitating cross-agency policy initiatives

Our vision is for the APO to become the central hub for government policy and strategic engagement in Auckland. The APO is well positioned to assist agencies needing to collaborate across government, with Auckland Council and other key Auckland stakeholders on policy and service design initiatives.

Building talent and leadership in Auckland

The APO is focused on helping build a pipeline of State services leaders better able to reflect and serve New Zealand’s diverse communities.
The Auckland Policy Office is committed to providing opportunities for Auckland and non-Auckland based State services staff to gain valuable experience in a policy and service design environment.

Engaging with Auckland stakeholders

The work of the Auckland Policy Office is vital for effective engagement between central government, the Auckland Council and other stakeholders.

Auckland Facts

  • Over 90,000 people in Auckland work in services provided through central Government and primarily funded out of taxation – over half of these people work in health and education. 
  • Central Government is the biggest employer in Auckland and many of Auckland’s government agencies are amongst the largest enterprises in the country.
  • More than a third of New Zealand’s population resides in Auckland and nearly half of that population was born overseas.

State Services Performance in Auckland

“Review of Central Government Policy, Implementation, Strategy and Leadership Effectiveness in Auckland”

Doug McKay – past CE of Auckland Council - was commissioned by a subgroup of the Urban Chief Executives’ Group to provide a comprehensive view of State services’ performance in Auckland (the McKay Report).  His report was released in late 2014 and was widely discussed within Auckland and among State services chief executives nationally.  State services chief executives are fully supportive of the thrust of McKay’s recommendations.  Good progress is being made in addressing the issues raised in the report.

The McKay Report recommended that the Auckland Policy Office should “serve three functions:

  • First, it is a location for departments that wish to have a policy presence in Auckland.  It provides those departments with a community in which to share and coordinate policy. It serves this function well and should look to grow it by welcoming additional agencies.
  • Second, it is a facility for government, where ministers and officials can meet with Auckland, connections can be fostered and government can connect. This function could be enhanced with more ability to host and support projects and facilitate new ways of working.
  • Third, provide a system-wide view of Auckland for central government and be an enabler for collaboration, shared data and evidence, escalation, evaluation, risk management and a facilitator of connections across government and Auckland.”

Related documents

Our response to the McKay Report.

The State Services Commission responded to the conclusions and recommendations of Doug McKay’s report in a number of ways.

Strengthening State services leadership in Auckland

  • The growing size, diversity and importance of Auckland to New Zealand has major implications for the work of the State services in our largest city.
  • The complexity and inter-dependence of the issues facing Auckland means that Government needs access to analysis and advice which is comprehensive, systematic, and which spans traditional portfolio and agency boundaries.
  • Reflecting these points each department has designated a senior leader responsible for focusing on Auckland.  Consequently an Auckland leadership group has been established.
  • The SSC Deputy Commissioner, Auckland, has been appointed to help lead the development of State services in Auckland that are:
    • aligned for delivery within Auckland
    • addressing challenges specific to Auckland
    • taking opportunities for Auckland and New Zealand’s economy.
  • The Auckland Career Board has been established and will identify and develop leadership talent in Auckland.
  • The Auckland Policy Office will offer ‘Auckland experience’ to State services agencies which are increasingly looking to locate policy and other leaders in Auckland.
  • An Auckland strategic ‘road map’ identifying system wide priorities in our largest city has been developed.

Strengthening partnerships with Auckland – working in new ways

  • The Auckland Transport Alignment Project, a partnership between Government and Auckland Council, is embracing a new approach to identifying and resolving critical issues in Transport.
  • Government is engaging with the Auckland Council to support an Auckland Unitary Plan which enables more action on housing need.
  • The co-design laboratory in Manukau, a partnership between central and local government with community leaders involved in its governance, is an example of stronger partnership.
  • The Deputy Commissioner, Auckland, works to develop information exchange and strategic dialogue with Auckland stakeholders including the Auckland Council.
  • The Auckland Policy Office is strengthening connections and partnerships between State services agencies in Auckland, and between the State services and Auckland stakeholders.
  • Government agencies are engaging with the Auckland Plan refresh to increase alignment between Council and government goals.

Responding to the needs of Auckland

  • Policies and service delivery is increasingly being tailored to specific Auckland communities to increase the chances of success. The Minister of State Services and the State Services Commission are leading work to investigate the scope for a more deliberate approach to the development and implementation of place based policies in South Auckland.
  • The government is acting on housing needs by developing its undercapitalised land in Auckland through Housing New Zealand and the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, and is also seeking new social housing through the Ministry of Social Development.
  • The Auckland Social Sector Leaders Group is trialling a number of initiatives developed by front line staff, reflecting the needs of South Auckland’s communities.
  • For many government priorities success overall depends on success in Auckland. A number of government agencies have adopted a matrix model for their operations which enables a focus on, and leadership in, Auckland.
  • This will require a strong base of data, information, evidence and analysis on Auckland issues.

Evolving the Auckland Policy Office

  • The Auckland Policy Office will be vital for achieving these aims in Auckland.
  • The Auckland Policy Office is in the process of evolving from a group of co-located agency staff into a single office working together on key priorities.
  • The number of agencies participating in the Auckland Policy Office will increase.

State Service Commission’s Response - SSC’s action plan to address issues raised by Doug McKay in the Review of Central Government Policy, Implementation, Strategy and Leadership Effectiveness in Auckland [hyperlink to PDF] 

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