2 October 2012

Last week State Services Commission outlined how it will coordinate building a pipeline for promising senior leaders and future Public Service chief executives. More information about the programme is to be published this month and next.

There is an acknowledgment that the leadership development provisions in the State Sector Act 1988 were not a success. The programme anticipates the change in emphasis in the State Sector Amendment Bill which will give the State Services Commissioner responsibility  “…for creating and implementing a strategy for the development of senior leaders in the Public Service…”  The Bill proposes a flexible deployment of senior leaders with SSC designating positions in departments as key positions which must be filled by agreement between the relevant departmental chief executive and the State Services Commissioner.  A chief executive’s independence in matters relating to appointments would be subject to this requirement pertaining to key positions.

The SSC framework for senior leader career development involves a leadership success profile. The profile model identifies leaderful capacity being the delivery of results – through transformation, vision, people and self.

The ”self” portion of the leadership success profile includes an Integrity element… it is just a bit confusing in its specification.   The structure is engineered around providing better Public Service leaders but refers to State sector standards. The aspiration is that State sector integrity standards are maintained.  Is this intentionally broader than the State Services standards, which the State Services Commissioner has set as Head of the State Services and which even have a less demanding application to the non Public Service parts of the State Services?  If so this implicitly prioritises the status of the Cabinet Manual integrity prescription and integrity guidance issued by the Office of the Auditor General, both of which address a wider audience than the State Services.  This could be considered a matter of insignificance because the Cabinet Manual incorporates the language of the Commissioner’s standards. What is probable is that it is just a language slip with SSC not using the precision expected when the owner of the machinery of government refers to State sector and State Services.

Cabinet Manual prescription, under the Principles of public service  (lower case p and s) is that “…Employees in the state sector must act with a spirit of service to the community and meet high standards of integrity and conduct in everything they do. In particular, employees must be fair, impartial, responsible, and trustworthy….”