This final section proposes that the legislative changes in this document should be introduced by way of a new Aotearoa New Zealand Public Service Act rather than by way of amendments to the existing State Sector Act.
Reviewing the State Sector Act offers an opportunity to establish the expectations of the Public Service in legislation, including explicit values and principles, and new ways of working across departments. Our aim is to enable a Public Service imbued with the spirit of service, where Public Servants identify as part of a unified New Zealand-wide Public Service, and have the capability to work across boundaries to deliver better outcomes and services for New Zealanders.
We need to decide whether the necessary changes are best introduced via amendments to the existing Act for by way of an entirely new piece of legislation.
One reason to favour the latter course is the amount of change involved in the proposals that are made in this paper, and which may increase in extent as a result of the consultation and policy processes. The large volume of change needed suggests it would be more efficient to start with a blank sheet and construct a new Bill, rather than engage in an extensive and highly complex amendment exercise.
More important, however, is the symbolic and signalling effect of a new Act. We are aiming to communicate and inculcate principles, values, and ways of working which have not been emphasised as much as they need to be in recent decades. The impact of the legislative change will be greatly amplified if it comes in the form of entirely new legislation; a new Act for a new Public Service.
Rather than amending the existing State Sector Act, we have concluded that the best way to ensure New Zealanders have the Public Service they need is to develop a new Act.
A new Act needs a new title. We propose to have a straightforward, meaningful title that will resonate easily with Public Servants and the public and elected officials we serve.
Proposed title of the Act
The title of the new Act should be the: Aotearoa New Zealand Public Service Act
Purpose of the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Service Act
The existing statute, the State Sector Act 1988, has as its purpose to promote and uphold a series of attributes of the State sector system, including spirit of service, political neutrality and stewardship. This purpose statement cascades into lists of activities that make up the role (section 4A) and principal functions (section 6) of the State Services Commissioner.
Shortcomings of this cascading approach have been recognised since the lists of attributes and activities were added to the State Sector Act in 2013, including; duplication of purpose and operational provisions, lack of alignment between certain provisions, and the omission of other relevant factors.
As an alternative we propose that a simple purpose statement for the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Service Act that explicitly establishes the Public Service as an institution. The purpose statement will say what the Act will provide for, but will not incorporate (and therefore duplicate) operational provisions.
Proposed purpose of the Act
The purpose of this Act is to –
a) provide for the New Zealand Public Service
b) define its purpose
c) entrench the principles that underpin it as an institution
d) instil the core values that guide New Zealand public servants
e) provide for effective leadership.