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Building A Stronger Public Accountability System For New Zealanders

Our discussion paper Building a stronger public accountability system for New Zealanders was presented to the House of Representatives today.

This discussion paper builds on our 2019 paper about New Zealand’s public accountability system and explores in more depth how well it is working in practice. People who worked in the public sector told us that, although the system had strengths, it was not working as well as it could. In many ways, the public accountability system has become disconnected from the public. It is seen by many as compliance-driven and provides little useful information about what is important to Parliament and the public.

There are reforms under way that might change that. These reforms include an increased focus on supporting well-being, new mechanisms that the public sector can use to address complex societal challenges, and new requirements to improve how public organisations work with Māori and to reinforce service to the communities they serve. Improved public accountability should be fundamental to any public sector reform.

The public sector needs to better communicate to Parliament and the public what it does, why it does it, and how it contributes to outcomes that are important for all New Zealanders. More transparency and improved reporting would be helpful. However, to provide effective public accountability, public organisations need to understand what is important to Parliament and the public.

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