Overview of the proposals

Factsheet 1 Overview of the proposals (227KB | PDF)

New Zealand’s Public Service has an enviable international reputation for responsiveness to government, effectiveness for New Zealanders and integrity. The recently released Kiwis Count Survey reinforces this reputation, with 2018 results showing New Zealanders have increasing trust in, and satisfaction with, their public services. These reforms will build on the high performance base of the Public Service, with the overall aim of delivering better outcomes and services for New Zealanders.

Changes are also aimed at creating a modern, agile and adaptive Public Service, and affirming the constitutional role of the Public Service in supporting New Zealand’s democratic form of government.

The key enablers to this are public service culture and behaviour; an updated framework for employment; effective leadership; and a greater range of options for configuring fit-for-purpose public service organisations. Alongside these enablers there is recognition of the Public Service’s role in supporting the Crown in its relationships with Māori.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

The Government has decided to repeal and replace the State Sector Act 1988 with a new Public Service Act. This new Act will include provisions in five areas that will help the Public Service join up services around New Zealanders’ needs and secure public trust

and confidence so it remains well placed to serve New Zealand in the future. The five areas are:

  • A unified Public Service
  • Strengthening the Crown’s relationships with Māori
  • Employment and workforce
  • Leadership
  • Organisations

The Public Service Bill has now been introduced to Parliament. The public are able to make submissions through the select committee process. Read more about this on Parliament’s website.

Along with the system-level Public Service reform, there is also work to improve how public service agencies organise themselves in the regions.

See Factsheet 7 for details.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

Why do we need to replace the State Sector Act 1988?

The Act is more than 30 years old and has been amended 13 times. Times have changed and there are areas where the Public Service can do better. The Act needs to reflect the requirements on the Public Service today and into the future.

How will New Zealanders benefit from the changes in the new legislation?

The Public Service works for the government that New Zealanders elect and New Zealanders depend on the Public Service for a wide range of services. A public service which works better will, over time, be of more benefit to New Zealanders.

How will these reforms be achieved?

There are two main levers to bring about change:

  • Legislation – replacing the State Sector Act 1988 with a new Public Service Act
  • Non-legislative – a change programme driven by the State Services Commissioner (this will change to Public Service Commissioner) and chief executives of the Public Service.

These reforms will also complement changes in the way the Government manages public finances that started with the Wellbeing Budget approach.

Is there an appetite for change?

Yes. Consultation feedback showed strong support for the overall direction of the reforms. These changes are about improving on the high base from which the Public Service operates to enable it to make the biggest possible difference to New Zealanders’ wellbeing.

When will the Bill come into effect and the changes take place?

The Bill is expected to be enacted before the end of 2020. Some of the changes will come into effect immediately, but many provisions are enabling; they will provide the tools and instruments to meet current and future requirements. This means implementation can be phased in over time to bring about change in a managed way, instead of resulting in sudden large- scale change in the system.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC website.

A unified Public Service

Factsheet 2 A unified Public Service (224KB | PDF)

A unified Public Service that acts as a single team, with a spirit of service to the community, will lead to more joined-up and better services for all New Zealanders.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

Proposed law changes will:

  • help create a unified Public Service with a common purpose, upholding foundational principles and displaying affirmed values
  • make appropriate officials (eg, chief executives) responsible for upholding the principles
  • acknowledge ‘a spirit of service’ as fundamental to the Public Service
  • reaffirm the term ‘the Public Service’ to include Crown agents (for the purposes above).

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for public servants

New legislation will affirm and clarify the common purpose, and bedrock principles and values for all public servants. This will capture why the Public Service exists and how it fits into New Zealand’s system of government, the five foundational Public Service principles, and ideal behaviours that support the integrity of the public service.

Strengthening the shared identity of public servants is aimed at bringing them closer together in the goal of serving New Zealanders, regardless of which agency they work in.

This will include Crown agents, many of which are already providing core public services in areas like health, education, transport and housing. They already give effect to government policy and often need to work closely with other Public Service agencies.

Joined-up core Public Service delivery agencies will help drive the cultural shift to build a unified Public Service, able to quickly mobilise across the sector to tackle specific issues that improve living standards and New Zealanders’ wellbeing.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

What is the common purpose of the Public Service?

There are several components, including:

  • to enable the government of the day to develop and implement their policies
  • to support constitutional and democratic government
  • to deliver high-quality and efficient public services
  • to support the government to pursue the long-term public interest
  • to facilitate active citizenship.

What are the five public service principles?

The five principles are: political neutrality, free and frank advice to Ministers, merit-based appointment, open government and stewardship.

What are the values?

The five values are: impartial, accountable, ethical, respectful, and responsive.

What is the difference between principles and values?

The principles are fundamental features of the way in which the Public Service operates, inherited through New Zealand’s Westminster system of government.

The values describe necessary behaviours of public servants to maintain the integrity of the Public Service.

Why put a common purpose, principles and values for the Public Service into law?

It preserves them and underscores how important they are. Providing a stronger understanding of what is expected is aimed at influencing public servant behaviours.

Who is responsible for upholding the principles?

Public Service chief executives and boards of Crown agents will ensure the principles are followed in their agencies. The Public Service Commissioner will issue guidance on what the principles and values mean for public servants.

What happens if someone breaches a value?

The Public Service Commissioner’s guidance on the values would be binding on public servants as terms of their employment. Behaviours inconsistent with the guidance would be addressed through employment management processes.

Why are Crown agents now included in the Public Service?

Of the Crown entities, Crown agents are closest to government. They give effect to government policy, include core public facing service delivery, and often need to work closely with current Public Service departments to deliver public services. It makes sense for all Crown agents and Public Service agencies to be unified under a common purpose, values, and principles.

What does this mean for Crown agents?

It is proposed that Crown agents be bound by the same purpose, principles and values as other public service departments. Including Crown agents in the public service for this purpose will also help to strengthen the shared identity between public services.

Which organisations are in the Crown agents’ group?

There are 46. They include all 20 district health boards, ACC, Housing New Zealand, New Zealand Transport Agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tertiary Education Commission, and PHARMAC.

Will the legal status or decision-making powers of Crown agents change?

No. This is about strengthening the shared identity and underlying behavioural foundations of all public servants – regardless of where they work. It’s aimed at bringing them closer together in the goal of serving New Zealanders.

When are these new provisions expected to be law?

It’s expected these provisions will come into law by the end of 2020, subject to the legislative process.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please go to the SSC website.

Te Ao Tūmatanui–Strengthening the Māori Crown Relationship

Factsheet 3 Te Ao Tūmatanui–Strengthening the Māori Crown Relationship (223KB | PDF)

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

The Government is committed to improving services and outcomes for Māori and strengthening the Crown’s relationship with Māori.

The new legislation will contain a standalone clause that the role of the Public Service includes supporting the Crown in its relationships with Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

To this end, the new Act will have explicit provisions which put responsibilities on:

  • Public Service leaders for developing and maintaining the capability of the Public Service to engage with Māori and to understand Māori perspectives
  • the Commissioner, when developing and implementing the leadership strategy, to recognise the aims, aspirations and employment requirements of Māori, and the need for greater involvement of Māori in the Public Service.

The new Act will also carry over the current requirements on Public Service employers to operate an employment policy that recognises the aims, aspirations and employment requirements of Māori, and the need for greater involvement of Māori in the public service.

The Commissioner and chief executives will be accountable to the appropriate Minister for upholding their responsibilities to support the Māori Crown relationship.

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for public servants

The reform aims to strengthen the Public Service to better support the Government’s commitment to a stronger Māori Crown relationship.

  • Our relationship with Māori is based on collaborative approaches that are mutually beneficial.
  • We can expect to see greater understanding and incorporation of te ao Māori woven into the work and ethos of public service, including:
    • te ao Māori concepts, knowledge, values and perspectives
    • te reo Māori (Māori language)
    • tikanga Māori (protocols and customs)
    • te Tiriti/the Treaty and understanding how it applies day to day
  • We all have a collective responsibility for a culturally competent Public Service that delivers with and for Māori and is committed to support Māori leadership and Māori in decision-making roles in the Public Service.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

What changes will public servants need to make in their routine work because of the reference in the Act to Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

Guidance will be issued for public servants about what it means to support the Crown in its relationships with Māori. This might touch on how public servants should consider Treaty implications in their day-to-day work, and how engagement with Māori should be approached.

Does this new clause require a big shift in thinking and practice for the Public Service?

There are pockets of good practice across the Public Service – however we need to do a lot more to strengthen the Māori Crown Relationship and ultimately improve outcomes for Māori.

How will public servants be supported to make these changes?

Public Service chief executives will determine what their agency needs, and provide support for each other through the Public Service Leadership Team to implement these practices. The Public Service Commission will provide leadership and guidance to support a wide capability lift. Te Arawhiti also has specific responsibilities to strengthen public sector capability to support the Māori Crown relationship.

Who is responsible for making sure public servants can deliver these expectations?

The Public Service Commissioner and public service chief executives will be responsible to the appropriate Ministers for delivering on these expectations.

Does the stand-alone clause apply to Crown agents and the boards of the Crown agent?

No. However, many Crown agents already recognise special relationships with Māori/iwi. For example, district health boards have specific obligations and responsibilities set out in their governing legislation.

How does this work with the Maihi Karauna work already underway?

The reforms complement the work of the Maihi Karauna because they go beyond language revitalisation and more broadly set out expectations for strengthening Māori capability of the Public Service.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC website.

Employment and Workforce

Factsheet 4 Employment and Workforce (220KB | PDF)

New employment and workforce provisions will help develop the Public Service workforce of the future. The changes also support the aim to build a unified Public Service that delivers citizen-centred services and improved wellbeing for New Zealanders.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

Provisions in the Public Service Bill cover:

  • employees being appointed to the Public Service, at the same time as being employed by departmental chief executives
  • broadening the Public Service Commissioner’s delegation powers for collective agreement negotiations, including pay equity
  • State sector-wide government workforce policy statements that set out government expectations, for example in pay equity, diversity, development, and the portability of service-related entitlements
  • improving inclusiveness and workforce diversity by explicitly recognising its value, making chief executives responsible to promote appropriate workplace policies and practices, and assigning the Commissioner to lead, support and report on inclusivity and diversity
  • portability of annual leave entitlements to aid career mobility across departments.

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for public servants

This is about making the Public Service a more attractive and inclusive place to work, with things such as:

  • fostering a common shared identity as public servants
  • recognising the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace
  • supporting the sector to address pay equity and other cross-sector workforce issues
  • enabling cross-public service negotiation of terms and conditions of employment
  • easier career mobility between departments through portability of annual leave.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

What does being appointed to the Public Service mean?

The intention is to encourage public servants to identify not just as employees of their agency but as part of a much bigger, unified Public Service. However, public servants will continue to be employed in their departments by their chief executive.

How does being appointed to the Public Service affect someone’s employment in individual agencies?

It doesn’t affect any individual employment processes. The agency chief executive will still employ individual staff and will continue to have all the obligations, rights, and powers that go with being the employer.

Will there be any change to my rights in negotiations?

No. The Employment Relations Act sets out the rights of employers, unions, and employees to negotiate on employment matters. The new Public Service Act would not change these rights.

Will there be common terms and conditions across the Public Service?

The new Public Service Act would enable common terms and conditions of employment to be negotiated, where all parties agree this is a good idea.

Will there be changes to leave provisions?

The new Public Service Act will include a change to ensure that accumulated statutory leave – including annual leave – can go with public servants when they move from one department to another.

These provisions would come into force at a later date, after the review of the Holidays Act 2003 has been completed.

Would redundancy entitlements change?

No. Options stay the same as they are now.

Can public servants be compulsorily moved to a new job in a different department?

No. Public servants continue to be employed in their specific departments and any move to a new job requires their agreement.

What impact will the pay equity provision have on me?

Pay equity changes will make sure that pay equity claims in the Public Service are handled systematically. Currently the content of settlements, including any changes to remuneration, are decided in the settlement of each particular claim.

Why are the Public Service Commissioner’s delegation powers for collective agreement negotiations being broadened to include things like pay equity?

It’s important to address pay equity across the Public Service to help guide consistent and positive outcomes. The Commissioner needs to be able to monitor and influence the way in which negotiations for pay equity settlements progress to meet Government expectations of an orderly process. The Government needs to know and plan for any pay equity implications.

What changes will be made to agency workplaces because of the diversity and inclusion provisions?

Chief executives will have a responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They will be expected to build an inclusive workplace culture that attracts and promotes diversity. This will need to include removal of barriers to current recruitment and development practices to ensure all people have fair and equal access to employment opportunities and career progression.

Diverse workforce and inclusive practices help the Public Service to be responsive and engage more effectively with the communities it serves. It will be able to deliver more innovative and meaningful programmes that have a greater impact.

Will public servants have individual or standardised contracts?

This is something that will be negotiated between employers and employees.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC website.

Leadership of the Public Service

Factsheet 5 Leadership of the Public Service (227KB | PDF)

Strong system-focused Public Service leadership is needed to improve outcomes for all New Zealanders. It also supports future-proofing the New Zealand Public Service, helping reaffirm and preserve the key elements that have helped win its strong international reputation for integrity, effectiveness and responsiveness.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

New legislative provisions to support this system- focused leadership include:

  • establishing a Public Service Leadership Team (PSLT) of chief executives. This will work as an executive team to support a unified Public Service. It will be led by the Public Service Commissioner
  • strengthening leadership of the centre through the Public Service Commission
  • a leadership strategy that develops a strong group of senior leaders who can lead and move across boundaries and take a broad range of experience and skills into chief executive roles in the future. This will develop the role of the existing Public Service Leaders Group
  • creating functional chief executives and other mechanisms to lead system improvement.

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for public servants

The Public Service will shift from a strong focus on agency leadership to also targeting system leadership. This is about culture and behaviour first, rather than rigid systems and processes.

Chief executives have already started to lead together for the system. This will be formalised as the new Public Service Leadership Team and will help public servants build on this collective way of working.

Existing functional lead roles will be given more consistent mandates for leading across the system. System leads will be able to be appointed based on functional experience and expertise.

The leadership strategy will support the exchange of ideas and help solve system-wide issues beyond agency boundaries. This will also create a broader range of Public Service leadership opportunities. There will be transparent mechanisms enabling senior leaders to identify development opportunities and move between roles, while upholding the principle of appointment on merit.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

Is there going to be a senior leaders’ service?

No. The legislation will not set out a structure or process change for the employment of senior leaders. Instead, the leadership strategy will be co-designed in partnership with chief executives and senior leaders.

What is the leadership strategy expected to cover?

It will address both the development of leadership capability and how to meet the needs of the system.

The Commissioner will be able to issue guidance to put the strategy into action, and chief executives will be required to make appointments and deploy leaders according to the strategy.

When will this strategy be in place?

We expect the Bill enacting this to come into force before the end of 2020. A formal strategy will not be launched until after that time. The strategy development began at the 2019 Public Service Leaders Summit.

Will senior leaders have a say on when they move across the system into another role?

Yes. The agreement of relevant chief executives and the individual concerned will be necessary.

What will be the structure of the Public Service Commission?

The Commission will be led by the Public Service Commissioner and at least one, but no more than two statutory Deputy Public Service Commissioners. The current model only provides for one statutory deputy.

What’s the purpose of the Public Service Leadership Team?

The Public Service Leadership Team (PSLT) is building on the progress made towards a more collective approach to system issues. The PSLT brings together public service chief executives and other senior leaders to focus on the interests of the whole system rather than those of a single agency. Providing for a PSLT in legislation is a way to embed this collective way of working and ensure that it is sustainable.

If chief executives are required to work collectively will this affect how they lead their agencies?

Agency chief executives will still have individual responsibilities and will continue to be focused on delivering results as agency leaders. The PSLT is about chief executives working together as part of the system and as a team to improve how the system operates.

Why do we need system leaders?

More integrated services for New Zealanders are possible through system leadership that focuses on improvements across the Public Service, such as improved digital and data systems. They will also support improving inter-operability across the Public Service in a way that benefits all agencies.

Who will functional chief executives be responsible to?

They will be responsible to the appropriate Minister for their functions. They will be appointed by the Public Service Commissioner.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC Website.

Organisations of the Public Service

Factsheet 6 Organisations of the Public Service (222KB | PDF)

The Public Service must be able to organise flexibly around the needs of New Zealanders without being unnecessarily constrained by administrative boundaries.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

The new system-design provisions allow for:

  • interdepartmental executive boards that support joined-up planning and budgeting and/or policy alignment on a complex cross-cutting issue
  • two different types of Public Service joint ventures - the interdepartmental venture, and the joint operational arrangement – that support joined- up, agile service delivery and joint resource management, including assets and staff
  • a more flexible departmental agency model.

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for public servants

There will be more formalised and flexible options for organisational arrangements to support Public Service agencies taking a truly collaborative, joined up approach to tackle some of the big challenges facing the country today.

  • Some of the most successful collaborative approaches undertaken to date, for example in the border security and the natural environment sectors, will be a normal way of working rather than the exception.
  • The ability to be truly collaborative will be supported rather than held back by system settings.

Collaborating agencies will be able to align strategy and planning activities operating in overlapping policy areas. This will harness the capabilities of individual agencies to collectively plan for and respond to complex cross-agency problems or priorities.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

Why is there a need to change the way the Public Service organises itself?

The current organisation of our Public Service into agencies that operate as separate firms works well for many tasks. However, it has struggled to respond effectively to complex issues that cross agency boundaries.

What can an interdepartmental venture or executive board do that can’t be done right now?

Currently, cross-agency working arrangements are voluntary and it’s often difficult to fund and sustain them over time. Interdepartmental ventures and executive boards provide formal structures to support collaborative working. For example, they will allow boards of chief executives to administer funding and employ public servants collectively, instead of one chief executive having to do so on behalf of a group.

What is the difference between an interdepartmental venture and an executive board?

An interdepartmental venture brings together the delivery of services from across a small number of agencies. An interdepartmental executive board provides collective strategic policy advice to Ministers for cross agency issues. It will also be able to administer funding and be supported by a unit independent of the individual chief executives’ agency.

Who appoints the board members of interdepartmental ventures?

The agencies involved in the venture are determined by Cabinet when it is established. Unlike with executive boards, interdepartmental venture boards are automatically comprised of the chief executives of the agencies included in the scope of the venture.

Who decides which chief executives govern executive boards?

Cabinet determines which agencies are included in the remit of the board. The Public Service Commissioner – as the employer of Public Service chief executives – then appoints chief executives from within this remit as board members, after consulting with Ministers.

Who will employ the staff in the executive boards and interdepartmental ventures?

The board of an interdepartmental venture will employ staff directly (in the same way the board of a Crown entity does). An interdepartmental executive board will act as the employer of staff, and those staff will be employed to a servicing agency (in a similar arrangement to the current departmental agency model).

What are the differences between the new flexible departmental agency model, and the one we currently have now?

The new model provides additional flexibility in three areas:

  • Whether the departmental agency needs to operate within the strategic framework of its host department or set its own strategic framework.
  • Whether it’s required to receive corporate service support from its host department.
  • Whether it can have control and responsibility for the financial management of assets.

It is also proposed to clarify the responsibility of the departmental agency chief executive for the relationship with individual departmental agency employees, and how relevant legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Privacy Act apply to departmental agencies.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC website.

The Public Service in the Regions

Factsheet 7 The Public Service in the Regions (212KB | PDF)

At a system wide level, we are working to change the Public Service so it operates as one joined-up system to tackle the big, complex challenges facing New Zealand.

The future direction of a modern and agile public service, as envisioned by the Public Service reforms, includes the work that public servants in the regions are already doing, and ensuring they can make the connections they need to improve their service provision.

Ngā whakataunga matua
Major decisions

The Public Service needs to work differently in the regions. How they will do that depends on upcoming reports focusing on:

  • Driving change through the designation of regional leaders to provide system leadership. They will have the mana and mandate for convening cross-agency decision making forums.
  • Setting principles to help determine organisational boundaries (agency jurisdictions) moving towards a common basis built around communities of interest, reflecting territorial authority boundaries in general.
  • Communicating Public Service focus areas through regional profiles and priorities for the whole Public Service. This will be developed with leaders within local government, iwi, business and community groups.
  • Developing shared property and IT models to support the operation of regional offices and the greater integration of services for communities.

Ka pēhea mō ngā kaimahi kāwanatanga
What it means for Public Servants

These system-level reforms will bring much-needed change to how the Public Service works in the regions, starting with the skills and social sectors. A stronger regional presence is also important for the Māori Crown relationship.

Public servants will be further supported and empowered to respond to what they see in their communities. These changes will also mean that the Public Service in the regions reflects the shift towards a more unified Public Service.

This will be an opportunity for public servants to identify the best way for these changes to be implemented, to support better service provision in the regions.

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu
Questions and answers

Are these changes part of the Public Service reforms legislation?

No. However, this work supports the shifts signalled by the Public Service Reform. It is about ensuring the Public Service is making the biggest possible difference to the wellbeing of New Zealanders; delivering services that are easy to access; joined up around their needs; and serving an ever more diverse and changing community. It is also about the cultural change of ensuring all public servants feel that they are part of one system, regardless of which agency they work for. There is a Cabinet mandate to undertake this work.

When will these changes happen?

In 2019, we started with the designation of regional leads and the principles to consider for future boundary changes. This will enable us to work with other regional leaders on the development of profiles, priorities and options to strengthen the work that is already occurring within different regions. This in turn will drive the sequence and detail of subsequent changes. There will be no changes to any boundaries at this stage.

How will organisational boundaries be changing?

Any proposals for future changes will be informed by consultation with relevant staff and communities. SSC is currently working with Land Information New Zealand to gather and analyse the current organisational boundaries of public service agencies. The maps will be used to compare boundaries with territorial authority boundaries and look at clusters of related agencies to understand where there are opportunities for improving sector connections. This may include options for changing organisational boundaries.

Will regional offices have to move?

There are no proposals to change the location of regional offices. We are focused on how to better enable agencies to work together and improve how they use existing resources.

However, over time the property locations for different agencies and offices do change. When we know that property changes are coming up for an agency we will work on maximising links to other agencies so that the community has better access to the services that matter to them.

What is a regional profile?

Profiles include what a region is about, eg, its key sectors, along with a summary of its key indicators.

Who will be involved in making these changes?

In the first instance these are changes that are occurring within public service agencies, led through the work of regional leaders, supported by a group of relevant chief executives. The Public Service regional leaders will represent community views from local government, iwi, businesses and community groups, as the work develops.

How will this affect the delivery of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)?

Existing PGF delivery is maintained, including the effective ongoing engagement with regional partners in delivering PGF objectives.

For more information on the Public Service reforms please visit the SSC website.

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