The Public Service is set up so each chief executive answers to their own Minister and focuses on the priorities set for them and their department.
There are smart, experienced people working at senior levels across the Public Service, but the system requires them to only focus on the issues their own department is responsible for.
The law could better support a more collaborative approach by creating different leadership arrangements:
Chief Executive Team – formally coming together to work across the system for the benefit of New Zealanders, while remaining responsible for their own departments.
Senior Leaders Service – mobilised to share their knowledge and skills.
Profession and Functional Leaders – heading up system wide capabilities.
Public Service Commissioner, Chief Executives and Senior Leaders.
A Commissioner with the support of a Deputy or as a Chief Commissioner working alongside one or two other Commissioners, would be responsible for setting the scene for the entire Public Service; driving public servants to work together, delivering better services and outcomes for New Zealand.
Chief Executives would be asked to do more on top of their current roles and be more accountable for a wider range of priorities outside their own department’s focus. Executives would bring all their skills and leadership to the most complex issues New Zealand faces.
There are nearly 1,000 people considered senior leaders across the Public Service. What if these highly qualified and experienced people could share their skills and experience across the Public Service and work together, sharing knowledge and understanding to better respond to the needs of New Zealanders?
The leaders of professions like finance and human resources, could be empowered to do more for the system.
What this means for New Zealanders:
A more consistent experience of a more professional Public Service. Difficult issues are tackled better.
Previously, multiple departments have tried to fix housing issues – the Ministry of Social Development, Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The Government recently established a new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to lead the Government’s housing agenda – but developing thriving communities is about more than just housing, and needs input from departments with a range of urban development responsibilities from transport, resource management and infrastructure, to local government.
What if Chief Executives from all those departments, dealing with urban development issues, formed an Executive Board, and with shared funding they were required to come up with a plan of action to get things right for the customer at the centre?
This would provide invaluable support to the Kiwibuild programme to deliver communities for New Zealanders, as well as homes.