Written on 7 May 2019 by Peter Hughes

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It’s great to see New Zealand recently ranked second overall in 38 countries assessed on central civil service performance

We’ve maintained this position since the International Civil Service Effectiveness Index was piloted in 2017. This year, NZ is second behind the United Kingdom, and Canada ranks third overall.  So we’re more than holding our own on the global stage. 

The United Kingdom-developed initiative is the first comprehensive index of international indicators of civil service effectiveness. It aims to assess the performance of central civil services around the world, recognising the important role the Public Service plays in helping their countries to progress and prosper. 

NZ ranked first in integrity, capabilities and procurement. 

In particular, our overall score for integrity was well ahead of all other countries. We performed strongly in the six themes of corruption level perceptions, adherence to rules and procedures, work ethics, fairness and impartiality, striving to serve citizens and ministers, and processes in place to preserve integrity and prevent conflicts of interest. 

The index suggests NZ has positive lessons to share with countries that want to improve in these areas. It’s also a good indicator of where we can look to keep gaining ground, to give New Zealanders world-leading public services now, and in the future.

For senior Public Service leaders driving system-level and behavioural reforms, the index has fascinating data. But it’s important to assess these results alongside other evidence available to us.

For instance, the 2018 Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index ranked New Zealand second out of 180 countries and territories for having the lowest level of perceived public sector corruption. 

Closer to home, the 2018 Victoria University Institute for Governance and Policy Studies survey showed several meaningful improvements in New Zealanders’ trust in government since 2016. 

Separate reports like these are building a compelling story about how well our country is being served by the Public Service.

This is something we can all be proud of.

But data-based approaches will only tell us so much. We need to combine them with other insights into specific problems and solutions to expand our understanding of where we can do better.

Our latest Kiwis Count survey asking New Zealanders about their experiences and views of the Public Service will be released soon.  I look forward to sharing these results with you.

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