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Chief Executive Ministry of Social Development appointed

6 November, 2018

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has today announced the appointment of Debbie Power as Chief Executive, Ministry of Social Development.

“I am very pleased to appoint Ms Power to this role,” the Commissioner said.

“She is a highly respected leader in the Public Service who has a real passion for and belief in the role of the Ministry of Social Development to deliver services that make a real difference in the lives of all New Zealanders.”

Ms Power is currently the Statutory Deputy State Services Commissioner and Chief Executive, State Services Commission. She has held the role since August 2015. Ms Power has led the Commission through a complete change in the way it works, including embedding a new vision, mission, values, governance and leadership structures and the implementation of a new operating model. Ms Power was accountable for supporting the Commissioner with chief executive appointments, performance management and led work to restructure and simplify chief executive remuneration.

Ms Power started her public service career in the 1980s as a frontline case manager at the then Department of Social Welfare, now the Ministry of Social Development.

Ms Power, who holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration from Victoria University of Wellington, spent time at Job Centre Plus, part of the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions responsible for delivering working-age support services. She is a government appointed member of the Diversity Works Board and has held senior roles in the Ministry of Social Development, including the Deputy Chief Executive, Service Delivery and Deputy Chief Executive, Office of the Chief Executive.

The Ministry of Social Development has a significant role, on behalf of the Government, to deliver services that improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families. The chief executive leads a department of approximately 6900 staff and oversees an annual budget of about $25 billion.

“The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development is a big and important role,” said Mr Hughes.

“Ms Power is a seasoned public servant and a proven leader. She is compassionate and determined and able to engage staff around a sense of service and purpose. It is a privilege leading a Ministry that plays such an important role for New Zealanders, and I have no doubt her leadership will ensure that the Ministry delivers accessible, fair, and transparent services.”

Ms Power will take up the role on 4 February for five years. Current chief executive Brendan Boyle’s term ends on 1 January.


Ms Power has been the Statutory Deputy State Services Commissioner and Chief Executive of the State Services Commission since 2015.

From 2012 to 2015 Ms Power was Deputy Chief Executive, Service Delivery at the Ministry of Social Development. Prior to this role she was Deputy Chief Executive, Office of the Chief Executive at the Ministry of Social Development.

For three years, 2007 to 2010, she was Private Secretary for the Ministry of Social Development. She was also the Ministry’s Director Business Change, Work and Income.

From 2005 to 2006 she worked in the Efficiency Division at Job Centre Plus, which is the part of the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions that delivers working-age support services.

Ms Power holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration from Victoria University of Wellington and attended the Harvard Business School Leading Organisational Change and Renewal Programme.

She is a government appointed member of the Diversity Works Board.

Ms Power started her public service career as a frontline case manager in 1980 at the Department of Social Welfare (now the Ministry of Social Development).


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