Public Service Bill introduced to Parliament

In mid November, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins introduced the Public Service Bill marking the beginning of a legislative process that will continue until mid-next year. 

According to the State Services Commission announcement, the Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed and replaced with a new Public Service Act.

“The current Act has reached the limit of what it can achieve,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The State Sector Act 1988 was designed for its time, and since then there have been major social, economic and technological changes, many of them on a global scale.  

“It is no longer possible for a single agency to fix the really big and complex problems New Zealand faces today.

“While the current Act has provided some benefits to efficiency and effectiveness at the agency level, it can no longer support the way modern public services need to be delivered,” Chris Hipkins said.

The new Act:

  • provides a more flexible set of options for how the Public Service can organise itself to better respond to specific priorities and to deliver services in a more convenient way   
  • allows public servants to move between agencies more easily
  • strengthens leadership across the Public Service and, in particular, provides for system and future focussed leadership
  • supports the Crown in its commitment to and relationship with Māori, and
  • clearly establishes the purpose, principles, and values of an apolitical Public Service, as well as its role in government formation.

Under the changes, boards, made up of chief executives from relevant government agencies, could be established to tackle the most pressing issues. These boards, or joint ventures, would be accountable to a single Minister and receive direct budget appropriations. Public servants from across the system will be deployed as required.

“The Bill builds on successes of the past, is more citizen focussed and future proofs the public service,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Long-held principles and values of the public service – political neutrality, free and frank advice, and merit-based appointments – will be embedded into the new Act.

“These changes will ensure the public service operates with integrity and continues to earn the trust, confidence and respect of New Zealanders,” Chris Hipkins said.

You can make a submission on the Public Service Bill to the select committee. Read more here.

Public servants have the same rights and freedoms as other New Zealanders, can make submissions on the Bill and appear as witnesses before the committee. If you want to make a submission, you need to be clear you are acting in a private capacity and generally should not comment on policy areas directly related to your agency role. Read more here.

The deadline for submissions to the Public Service Legislation Bill is Friday 31 January 2020. If you are thinking about making a submission, we encourage you to provide your insights about the shape of the public sector over the next 30 years.

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