Quasi-department form with its own director appointed by a departmental CE or chief executive appointed by the Public Service Commissioner — support services are provided by a host department.

The basics

  • When to use this tool

    • Desire to establish a direct line of ministerial accountability, without fragmentation of a new department and/or arm’s-length nature of a crown entity
    • Relatively stable policy settings that are cohesive within a clearly defined area or
    • Activity readily defined and measurable, and severable from the functions or services of the host department
  • How to agree goals/outcomes

    • Budget process (appropriations)
    • Ministerial priorities
    • Cabinet may agree purpose of agency through establishment process
  • Governance model required

    One of:

    • Business unit
    • Branded business unit
    • Departmental agency with direct line of accountability to responsible minister
    • Functional chief executive
  • Ministerial relationships required

    • Appropriate/portfolio minister for departmental agency or business unit or functional chief executive
  • Incentives required

    • Annual reporting and audit
    • Ministerial accountability
    • Recognition for CEs
  • How to manage the funding

    • Appropriation for business unit or DA (usually administered by host department – may use letter of ministerial delegation to clarify accountabilities)
    • Functional CE agrees resourcing with host CE

About this model

A semi-structural integration solution typically takes the form of either a business unit or departmental agency. The key distinction between the 2 forms is that under the departmental agency model there is a deemed delegation which in effect transfers the responsibilities that would normally be held by the host department chief executive to the departmental agency’s chief executive. The departmental agency’s CE is then directly accountable to a minister (who may be different than the host department’s one) and has control over the relevant resources to support them.

A business unit is led by a director whose line of contact and accountability to a minister goes through the CE of the host department. The director is employed by the CE of the host department, who has discretion over their delegations to the director. A departmental agency thus has greater legal autonomy from the host department than a business unit.

Both forms can be used to support the consolidation of functions currently located in separate agencies or Crown entities. The colocation or transfer of relevant resources from other departments to bring the activity together in one place under one leadership should support focus on the issue and enable more aligned and coordinated activity.

The limitations of using a departmental agency or business unit as the solution to shared problems are similar to those of structural integration. By assigning the shared problem to a department agency or business unit and moving resources into it, that agency or unit then needs to coordinate as it is unlikely that the entirety of functions related to the problem can be consolidated.

Supplementary guidance note — departmental agencies 

Supplementary guidance note — functional chief executives

Case Study: Social Wellbeing Agency (departmental agency)

The Social Wellbeing Agency was launched on 1 July 2017 with responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the Government’s social investment approach.

The SWA is designed to work with agencies and non-governmental organisations to help them take a life-time view of individuals and their needs by bringing together functions and resources into one agency form. Prior to the SWA this capability was fragmented across a number of agencies.

The SWA has brought together functions that previously resided in:

  • Sector Strategy in Ministry of Social Development
  • Social Investment Unit in The Treasury
  • Superu (formerly Families Commission)

Consolidating these capabilities within a departmental agency with a clear role in leading social wellbeing, a mandate from the responsible minister, and a critical mass of policy and analytic expertise is intended to support joined-up social policy in priority areas for government.

The other role of the SWA is as a support and secretariat function for the Social Wellbeing Board (SWB). This role sees the SWA taking direction and providing advice through the Board.

The SWA is hosted by Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission to strengthen the perception of independence and a social sector neutral view.

Home — Social Wellbeing Agency