Recommendations

140 It is recommended that you:

1 note that the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) is a semi-autonomous body (SAB) attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) with two main areas of focus:

1.1 to protect and promote public health and safety through the administration of food related legislation, and

1.2 to facilitate access to markets for NZ food products and related products.

2 note that in establishing NZFSA as a SAB, Cabinet decided that NZFSA would provide advice directly to the Minister for Food Safety under delegation from, and independent of advice from, the Director-General of MAF

3 note that the SAB arrangement creates an inherent tension with the accountability framework that underpins the State Sector Act 1988 and the Public Finance Act 2004 because under these acts, it is the Director-General who is accountable for the performance of the Ministry, including NZFSA and accountable for the outputs funded from Vote: Food Safety notwithstanding that the performance of the functions have been delegated to the Executive Director of NZFSA

4 note that in light of these inherent tensions, the review has addressed:

4.1 the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining the current arrangements as a SAB attached to MAF

4.2 the viability of modifying some of the current arrangements, including possible separation of NZFSA from MAF and

4.3 any other changes that might be appropriate.

5 agree that the most appropriate structural option for NZFSA is retention as a SAB attached to MAF yes/no

6 note that the main reasons for supporting the continuation of the SAB model are the need to retain close links between NZFSA and MAF (including Biosecurity NZ) and the advantages that stem from the wide array of synergies that exist between the agencies. The links and synergies arise from:

6.1 the need for the agencies to maintain a consistent and principled approach to the regulatory regimes they administer and which are vital to NZ's trade interests

6.2 the reliance that NZFSA places on Biosecurity NZ for various assurances given to trading partners

6.3 the scientific and risk-based underpinnings to the work of the agencies that is then reflected in the composition of the staff of the agencies

6.4 the need for effective regulation to be based on a blend of technical and policy perspectives, and

6.5 the need for a seamless response in the event of biosecurity incursion or major risk to food safety

7 note that in order for the SAB model to work well, there is a higher than normal onus on the parties involved to make it work well

8 note that in the case of NZFSA, most of the formal requirements for the effective functioning of the SAB model are in place with the exception of a shared services agreement and note that it would be desirable for the Director-General and Executive Director to develop and agree such an agreement

9 note that to work well, the SAB model also requires a range of informal mechanisms to facilitate the relationship and, to this end, note that there is scope for the Director-General and Executive Director to explore further opportunities for:

9.1 further articulating and aligning values and cultures and reflecting these in key governance documents and policies

9.2 greater joint participation in industry meetings and fora

9.3 making better use of induction processes, and

9.4 co-location.

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