8 November 2012


The Institute of Government has published its report on Transforming Whitehall Departments. The finding is that departments are “fragile, morale is at risk and leaders will need to work very differently if more cuts are to come”.


The assessment much of which may have equal application to New Zealand found that chief executives were struggling to balance the demands of reorganisation and ministerial priorities. Ironically, the focus is adjusted to “back office” functions, identifying the strategic role of HR, finance, internal communications and IT.

The importance of working together, which is core to Better Public Services programme in new Zealand, is emphasised. “…It is essential that leaders throughout Whitehall work together more effectively across departmental boundaries to find the best options for savings and new ways of working … With the danger of declining staff engagement, the onus is on leaders to ensure the motivation and capability is there to see them through…”

Three major risks identified in the report are fragile leadership, siloed departments, and falling staff engagement.

So nothing that would surprise a New Zealand public servant celebrating the centenary of the enactment of Public Service Act 1912. At last night’s IPANZ celebration, the Governor General, the Speaker and the State Services Commissioner all gave very well thought out and well received speeches about the intentions for and outcomes of the legislation. Each applauded the tradition of service, the contribution to the well being of New Zealand and the continuing integrity of the public service created by the 1912 Act.