This e-update pulls on some of the principles and values that underpin our Public Service system – articles touch on the separation (independence) of certain functions, transparency, public consultation and trust.
Working in public service is special (you are making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders) – but brings with it certain requirements and obligations. IPANZ will explore and debate these matters for and with you.
Kay Booth, Executive Director
New Statistics Legislation Raises Some Interesting Points
Who would have thought that a Bill about statistics would cut to fundamentals of the Public Service?
Recent critique of the Data and Statistics Bill by the likes of Sir Geoffrey Palmer and ex-Government Statistician (and previous IPANZ President) Len Cook revolved around key features of our Public Service, in particular independence. In this case the independence of the Government Statistician to prepare official statistics was under the spotlight, including whether the Government Statistician should be able to delegate their data-gathering powers to other agency chief executives.
There are a host of statutory independent functions within the Public Service (indeed, the wider State Sector) – such as those vested in the Government Statistician, Valuer-General, and the Commissioner of Police – where certain powers are vested in individual public servants independent of the Minister.
This discussion about the principle of statutory independence of certain functions highlights the intricacies of the Public Service system. IPANZ will further explain this matter in a future issue of the Public Sector journal and shine the light on other characteristics of our system that warrant explanation.
For the record, the Data and Statistics Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 8 August.
If you wish to understand more about this debate, a good place to start is here:
Why Are We Suspicious of Centralisation?
Dr Simon Chapple (Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies) was interviewed on Radio New Zealand on issues of centralisation of recent public policy solutions evident in Three waters, health reforms and polytechnics.
"I think we're seeing two forms of centralisation," says Chapple. "One is centralised solutions, but we're also seeing highly centralised processes that led to these solutions. Basically, the political arm of government is coming to the table with a solution to a problem they've identified. And that centralisation means that they've been particularly poor at looking at ranges of plausible alternatives to the particular services they've chosen.”
"But also, they've not been particularly good at a process of consulting the public with an open mind. And I think that's the reason we're seeing public disquiet or pushback."
For a summary and a link to the full podcast:
Trust and Confidence in the New Zealand Public Service - Some Statistics
Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has released some statistics.
Its latest ‘Kiwis Count’ survey results (June quarter 2022) shows:
- Ongoing stability in both trust in the public sector brand and experience of trust in the public sector.
- 81% of New Zealanders trust public services based on their personal experience.
- Trust in the public service brand is 62%, which is up slightly from the March 2022 quarter and remains above pre-Covid levels.
The OECD also measures citizen confidence in the public service. The Commission reports that:
- New Zealand comes out well in the recent OECD report 'Building Trust to Reinforce Democracy'.
- New Zealand sits above the OECD average and alongside countries in the top bracket – Finland, Ireland, Iceland and Latvia.
You can read more here
Complaints, OIAs and Proactive Information Release
Buried in the Governance and Administration Select committee report recently was the observation that both MPs Offices and the Ombudsman were receiving dramatically more complaints. Further, that the latter was dealing with more people of “uneven temperament“ post-Covid.
In response to questions, the Ombudsman gave sage advice that’s a timely reminder about OIAs and transparency:
- The Government needs to help people understand why things are happening.
- A good way to do this is through proactively publishing information on what is being done and why.
- This transparency would help build trust in government agencies and local government.
- Ministers should be very clear about their expectations for CEOs regarding transparency and OIA compliance - this would significantly improve public sector responsiveness.
- Releasing information under an OIA as soon as practical, rather than waiting until the last allowable day, would be very helpful.
Information sourced from Trans-Tasman (4 August 2022)
Learn more about H2R here
Modern Slavery: Government, Business and Worker Perspectives - 15 September 2022, AUCKLAND
After a long COVID enforced break, the Auckland IPANZ New Professionals Team are back and have a new event planned in Tāmaki Makaurau. MartinJenkins is hosting a Q&A Panel Discussion with a range of experts to discuss the challenges and solutions to modern slavery. The event will provide unique insights into how the perspectives of civil society, government and business come together to solve pressing global problems.
This event involves a Q&A Panel Discussion with opportunities to engage with the panellists and ask questions, followed by drinks and nibbles. The panellists are experts in the response to modern slavery and will provide the perspectives of key stakeholders.
Read more and register here
SAVE THE DATE - A Vision for the Future Public Service - 27 September 2022, 12.00-1.00pm, WELLINGTON
We are planning a panel event for public servants, featuring the Leaders of, or Public Service spokespersons, from the political parties not currently in Government.
This event is designed to provide an opportunity for current non-governing political parties represented in Parliament, to share with public servants, their vision for the future of the public service, in anticipation of next year’s General Election.
Confirmed speakers include: Jan Logie, Green Party spokesperson for the Public Service; David Seymour, Leader of the ACT Party; and Simeon Brown, National Party spokesperson for the Public Service. We are working to secure a spokesperson for Te Pati Māori - we will keep you posted and let you know when you can register to attend!
Learn more about The Johnson Group here
WHAT WE'RE READING
Handy Guidance on Some Public Service Processes
I recently came across Allen + Clarke’s quick guides for the public service on topics from regulatory stewardship to effective public consultation. Downloadable PDFs offer high-level practical guidance and are free to download from - https://www.allenandclarke.co.nz/resources
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