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International 'After the Reforms' Conference


29 January 2008

Were the ‘80s reforms a break with the past? Or just a scene from Yes Minister?

Researchers, public servants and commentators from more than 30 countries will gather in Wellington next month for the most comprehensive review yet of the 1980s’ public sector ‘revolution’.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, the New Zealand public sector was radically and rapidly reformed. This conference will be an opportunity to reflect on the lessons from the reforms, and current governance challenges facing New Zealand and other countries,” says conference organiser, former diplomat and Transport Secretary, Alastair Bisley.

The After the Reforms conference, from February 28 to 29, will enable academics and practitioners to debate lessons from the radical rethinking of New Zealand public management.

It is being jointly hosted by Victoria University’s School of Government and the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand.

“At a time of opposition party probes into the size of the public sector and of questions about the dismissal and employment of public servants, these are important public issues. The symposium will put New Zealand’s experience into context, while bringing together supporters and critics of the reforms – and their subsequent modifications,” says Bisley.

Opening speaker, Dr Graham Scott, was a leading figure in the design of the New Zealand public model as Treasury Secretary from 1986 to 1993.

“Dr Scott worked with politicians from both major parties as they sought to break the mould of a bureaucratic public service system managed through inputs. After working as a New Zealand-based consultant in other countries, he is uniquely placed to compare current performance with the hopes of reform,” says Bisley.

The commentary will be led by:

- Dr Peter Shergold, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia. He topped the Australia Financial Review’s 2007 list of covert power wielders in Australia.

- Professor Geert Bouckaert, European Group of Public Administration president. He is a prolific researcher based near Brussels, who specialises in benchmarking how national differences affect the organisation and performance of public services.

Other highlights include:

- A range of New Zealand perspectives from the heads of the three central agencies – Treasury, the State Services Commission and the Prime Minister’s Department – and the Auditor General.

- Debate on the new century’s issues, including Victoria University Professor of E-government Miriam Lips on the impact of the IT revolution.

- Debate on local government led by David Shand, who headed the inquiry into local government rates, and is a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.


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