30 December 2010

The Washington Post reports that staff in agencies like the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission,  recruited by banks and law firms, are doubling their salaries.  Their skills are in demand.  Will these prospects affect the way officials do their job? What is the private sector getting for its money?

Conflict of interest rules relating to future employment are much more rigorous in US agencies than in New Zealand, eg former officials are barred from cases they worked on while in government. Generally, they may not work in areas of their public service specialty for two years, and for 12 months may not represent clients before their former agency.

There has been no public or political concern about revolving doors in New Zealand. The current view is that limiting employment opportunities is an unacceptable constraint in almost all circumstances. There is one statutory limitation and that is on the registration as an immigration agent of a former immigration officer.  Unconcern for the implications of officials privatising their public service skills distinguishes New Zealand from almost all other OECD member states. This can be seen in the data gathered in 2010 OECD research.