Importance of context

5 In practice, machinery of government decision making rarely follows a scientific path that leads inexorably to a clear conclusion. As former State Services Commissioner D K Hunn expressed it in 1997:

"Machinery of government changes do not tend to happen merely because of the existence of an abstract set of design criteria. Context is crucial. They tend to occur in response to perceived problems or inadequacies. Criteria may have a significant affect on the ultimate design, but other considerations will also be relevant such as political judgements about the suitability of different organisational forms, or practical considerations about the relative ease with which changes can be made".

6 For example, a political party's pre-election campaign may include a commitment to establish a new agency to carry out a particular role. The government may have decided it wants more control over an agency, or that an agency's objectives or functions should expand or be restricted, or that better coordination is needed between agencies without changing their form or functions; and so on. The advice must fit the context and nature of the issue.

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