IPANZ E-Update - 18 July 2023


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Kay Booth, Executive Director


Can departments better respond to external reviews?

A strong reaction from the Chief Ombudsman highlights a key issue for the public service – implementing findings from reviews by monitoring agencies. In this case, the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections says the Department does not have "mature and robust organisation-wide processes to track, monitor, assure and close recommendations". The Department is clearly working on improvements.

The frustration felt by the Chief Ombudsman must be echoed by others – when they find little has changed from earlier reviews and end up repeating recommendations which they had been told were being actioned. Why is this happening? Can it improve so more trust can be built in the public service?

Ideas for public servants about working with communities

It is worth looking at this timely document written by Inspiring Communities.

This is a plea, expressed so often, that communities would like to see evidence of a change in mindset and actions from the public service. Just a few examples:

  • Public servants tend to underestimate the capability, capacity, and resourcefulness of communities.
  • Public policy could have much greater impact if it focused on creating the conditions for community-led responses rather than creating and choosing solutions for communities.
  • By repositioning policy workers as conduits and facilitators, conditions for ethical and trusting relationships can be created.

Here is some independent commentary, reported in Newsroom

Engaging with the debate about diminishing social cohesion

As the paper on social cohesion from Koi Tū (The Centre for Informed Futures) says: “New Zealand’s status as a cohesive high-trust nation is being strained by political, economic and environmental pressures, exacerbated by technological disruptors”. When social cohesion is threatened, people get anxious or angry with frustration heightened. This is not helped by the purveyors of misinformation.

Ideas to improve social cohesion include the following:

  • Introduce more systematically innovative democratic techniques for consultation – both digital and participatory.
  • Improve parliamentary processes.
  • Join the global conversation on how to manage AI.

An alternative view is expressed by Rob Campbell who says: “disintegration of trust in the old order is an essential prerequisite to substantive change in how human societies work”. He argues that the diminution of trust is real and rational and that some sort of new institutional arrangements and approach are needed

The impact of ministerial advisors on contestability of advice

A succinct piece from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) summarising research on ministerial advisors. The key point made at the outset is that ministerial advisors can be like a shadow bureaucracy but exempt from political impartiality. Advisors can subtly influence the way in which advice is framed, reducing robust consideration of all options. This can result in constraint on the contestability of ideas. Policy decision-making is at its best when a full range of options are debated. Ministerial advisors do, at times, bring in the views of interest groups who may not otherwise be heard but, at other times, act in a way to close off potential paths forward.

A four-day working week on the bargaining table in Australia

You may have read about increased productivity from a four-day working week. This article suggests there are some questions yet to be answered, for example:

  • Are the research results reliable? 
  • Are the claimed 20% productivity gains accurate?
  • Has it been trialled for long enough to be valid?
  • Can it really apply to all sectors and all types of work?

This last point is important. The trials have been mainly done in office-based services, so public-facing customer work, manufacturing and much public sector work may not produce the widely claimed productivity and well-being gains.


Thursday 27 July, Auckland, 7.15am: New Professionals: Meet the Chiefs with Peter Reidy – Chief Executive of KiwiRail - Join the IPANZ New Professionals Leadership Team for a light breakfast and the opportunity to meet with Peter Reidy – Chief Executive of KiwiRail. Register here.

    Tuesday 1 August, Wellington, 12.00pm: Ian Axford Fellows in Public Policy report-back seminar - Fulbright New Zealand and the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand, bring you this year’s two Ian Axford Fellows. Register here to hear them present an overview of their research projects and key learnings. 

      • Rachel Wolbers - “Next Steps for the Christchurch Call to Action”
      • Sam Mulopulos - “Supply Chain Resiliency: A comparative Analysis of Policy Solutions in New Zealand and the United States”

      Wednesday 2 August, Wellington, 7.00am: Women in Leadership Breakfast

      Register here for an inspiring session with the Honourable Beth McGrath, Deloitte Global Government & Public Services Leader, where she will give her perspectives on the challenges, opportunities and trends of women working in leadership.

      Thursday 3 August, Wellington, 5.15pm: A global perspective on government and public sector trends 

      This session will provide an opportunity to hear the Honourable Beth McGrath’s, Deloitte Global Government & Public Services Leader, perspectives on key global government and public sector trends, development, challenges, and opportunities. Register here to join the discussion

      Wednesday 9 August, 5.30pm: Election Season in the Public Sector: Navigating the Pre- and Post- Election Period - Join the IPANZ New Professionals for an evening discussion with three esteemed guests, focusing on the caretaker convention. This timely discussion is aimed to help new public sector workers develop their understanding of the role of the public service in the pre- and post-election period. This event is being hosted in Wellington, with a live stream feed into Auckland where you will also be able to join the discussion, ask questions and network.

      Wednesday 16 August, Online, 12.00pm: Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing Index webinar - Improving workplace wellbeing will improve not only workplace satisfaction and effectiveness, it will improve people’s lives. While a wellbeing culture ranks as a top priority for employees, Skills Consulting Group research has found this area to have the largest gaps between employee expectations and the reality.

      So, how do we bridge this gap? Join us for this online webinar where Skills Consulting Group takes us through the findings of their Work Wellbeing Index and shows us where to focus. Register here


      Fees free NZ Certificate in Project Management (Level 4) - offer from Skills Consulting Group

      Skills Consulting Group are offering Fees Free enrolment to their NZ Certificate in Project Management (Level 4) to anyone who enrols prior to 31 July 2023.

      This qualification is a great chance for those who are working “in a project not on a project”. It is designed for those who are involved in the implementation of a project such as a change management process, business improvement process or a piece of work that has a beginning, a middle and an end. They are typically involved in the execution of the project but not necessarily the strategic management.

      Upon completion, graduates of this qualification will be able to: (1) support a project through its life cycle through the selection and application of project management knowledge, tools, and techniques; (2) lead aspects of a project under broad guidance; (3) behave professionally and ethically and in a socially and culturally responsible manner; and (4) apply personal and interpersonal skills to support the performance of the project.

      If you are interested and would like more information please contact: paul.figliola@scgnz.org

      Institutional Memory Survey

      IPANZ is supporting international research on the effects of organisational memory loss within the public services of New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Led by researchers at the University of Queensland, this international collaborative research project is asking New Zealand public servants to complete a survey that measures relationships between staff turnover, institutional memory and organisational performance. The survey takes 5 minutes – the survey link is below. More information can be provided by via the University of Queensland's lead researcher: alastair.stark@uq.edu.au

      If you work for a public service department/ministry, departmental agency or interdepartmental executive board then please participate.

      All survey responses are anonymised, stored securely in the University of Queensland's digital repository and will only exist for the duration of the research project. Researchers will report on their study findings through IPANZ.

      Clink here to complete the survey about institutional memory loss.

      Applications are closing soon for Allen + Clarke’s Pro Bono Programme. Applying takes just 20 minutes and could secure you up to 250 hours of free support.


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