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British minister needs wider perspective of public sector

15 November 2012
British minister needs wider perspective of public sector reform

The Public Service Association says if a visiting British minister wants to pick up ideas for public service reform, he needs to be doing more than just talking to senior government officials and politicians.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is in New Zealand to look at ways Britain’s public sector can be more accountable and efficient.

PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott says while New Zealand does have a highly regarded public sector internationally due to its transparency and lack of corruption, it should not be held up as a world-leading model.

“On the surface we appear to have a robust accountability regime with endless reporting and monitoring, but if you take a deeper look it unravels into box-ticking and political face-saving. I think we have seen this with Pike River where there was a clear gap between being seen to be accountable and what was actually happening on the ground.”

She says political interference is also increasingly driving public sector accountability.

“It’s hard to think of a chief executive who has had to resign because his or her department has failed to achieve some important, over-arching goal or taking responsibility for major service failures. Resignations, when they occur, tend to be the result of political clashes.”

Brenda Pilott says in terms of efficiencies the British public should not be subjected to the New Zealand government’s do-more-with-less management of the public sector and moves towards more privatisation.

“Francis Maude needs to be aware of the effects of those policies on the public in terms of reduced services and the loss of capacity within the public service.

“I would urge him to meet with frontline public servants and go out and get a wider perspective, rather than being sold a theoretical picture of New Zealand’s public sector by senior government and departmental officials.”

The PSA would welcome an opportunity to meet with him during his visit.


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