UPDATE - State Sector Legislation

The Public Service Legislation Bill was presented to Parliament last week, and submissions are now open.

The timeframe is very challenging for thoughtful debate, with submissions closing on 31 January, but this is a very important piece of legislation and it is vital that the views of public service professionals are heard.

IPANZ will be putting in a submission, so please email us with any views that you would like us to consider and incorporate into our submission - Shenagh@ipanz.org.nz If there is a lot of interest in this, we will arrange a discussion in mid January if possible - though we know that many of you will still be on leave until after Wellington Anniversary weekend!

The legislation will have a big impact on public sector professionals, so it is worth building your knowledge and understanding of it, so that you can actively contribute to its implementation.

Kind regards

Shenagh Gleisner


The latest issue of Policy Quarterly is focussed on the reforms and contains a set of papers from a range of authors. So to help you get across the issues, we have picked out some pertinent points from some of the papers to share with you, and we encourage you to take a deeper dive into any of these papers that interest you when you have the time:

Public service legislation and public service reform

Peter Hughes writes the opening article in this special edition of the Policy Quarterly. He celebrates the current high performance of the public service in relation to integrity, effectiveness and transparency, and the many examples of spirit of service shown every day. He focuses upon how the new legislation should bring organisational flexibility and system leadership, putting the force of law behind our responsibilities in relation to Maori, and strengthening arrangements for cross- sector coordination. These are just a few of the changes envisaged.

Weber Vs Wairua : Towards a more human bureaucracy in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

The authors suggest that the incorporation of some core Māori concepts such as ‘wairua’ could transform the public sector. Wairua may be difficult to define, but it is known through the senses. Wisdom, connectedness, ethical integrity, putting people at the centre, and spirituality all come to mind when you talk of ‘wairua’.

Just last week someone said to me “we need to hear with Māori ears, see with Māori eyes and feel with a Māori heart”. I imagined how different the public sector would be if Māori values were deeply understood and embedded into the system.

From Mandarin to valet public service? State sector reform and problems of managerialism in the New Zealand public service?

There are some themes in this paper which I have heard in recent months as I have been talking widely with others in the public sector. I have heard the perception of the devaluation and decrease of deep sectoral or subject expertise. People feel that this creates the potential danger of weakening the strength of free and frank advice. In-depth knowledge and deep understanding of the sector can enhance the quality of advice to the Minister.

Maybe this is something that can be explored – it is too important to dismiss and merits laying out the evidence.

Does public accountability even matter if the public sector is performing well?

The essence of this article can be summed up by saying that public agencies may be too focused on publishing measures that matter to them rather than what matters to the public. Underlying this is the criticism that we do not present information that is accessible to the New Zealanders we serve. Furthermore, the author asserts there is no point in a well-performing system if it lacks integrity and ethical value. Trustworthiness, competence, reliability and honesty matter to the public. In other words this article raises the most important question of legitimacy in the eyes of the public, as well as accountability, and above all trust.