Agencies form a CE group, agree on the problem or opportunity and what each agency needs to do about it (using own decision rights in a coordinated way), supported if needed by pooling relevant agency resources.

The basics

  • When to use this tool

    • Voluntary solutions have proven inadequate to solve the problem (for example, a greater level of coordination required)
    • The problem is sufficiently important that it warrants bringing CEs together
    • The problem can be defined as a specific result or service for a customer group
    • CEs are willing to take shared responsibility for the problem
  • How to agree goals/outcomes

    • Collectively agree to a few priority results (be selective)
    • Agree to be collectively responsible for progress
    • Agree performance measures to track progress
    • Agree performance targets for mature measures to set ambition/urgency
    • Confirm results and measures/ targets with ministers
  • Governance model required

    • Collaborative governance
    • CE group for setting strategy, signalling agency commitment
    • Limit membership in CE group to critical few
    • Chair chosen from within CE group
    • Working groups at other levels
    • Jointly resource secretariat/policy function which could be co-located
    • Groups below CE level to have clear and consistent delegated decision rights
  • Ministerial relationships required

    • Group to provide shared advice to ministers on agreed areas of joint responsibility
    • Recommend that ministers form informal ministerial group for discussing trade-offs
  • Incentives required

    • Collective responsibility for priority results
    • Reporting to ministers
    • Recognition for CEs
  • How to manage the funding

    Any combination of:

    • Joint resourcing (staffing) of shared functions
    • Individual agencies commit to specific activities and fund from baseline
    • Agencies each contribute agreed funding amount
    • Agencies pool underspends

About this model

Cross agency boards provide a mechanism for collective leadership. These are appropriate where a shared outcome requires cross-agency planning and resourcing and aligned but separate delivery. This model is used where the problem can be restricted to a few key agencies that agree to take on shared responsibility. This model will often have multiple levels of governance arrangements to support the collaboration of agencies.

This model is self-organising. The chief executives will often form a board which collectively agrees the goals, results and performance measures to track progress. The board will commonly be supported by working groups at other levels of the organisations and a jointly resourced secretariat. Similarly, the board may be mirrored by an informal ministerial group that can support the cross-agency working. The diagram below provides an illustration of the levels of governance possible.

Three columns, Agency 1, Agency 2 and Agency 3, are all labelled 'Implantation'.  Across all 3 are 4 boxes, each representing a role/group. The bottom represents 'Operational/technical groups', followed by 'Shared secretariat', followed by Chief Executive Board', followed by 'Ministerial group (informal)'. There is an arrow with 2 ends between 'Ministerial group (informal)' and 'Chief Executive Board'.

Where problems can be reasonably tightly defined and the number of agencies restricted to a critical few, this model can support collective action through more formal arrangements. Agreeing a series of performance targets and measures and the provision of shared advice acts as a mechanism to support ongoing commitment and focus from CEs and agencies. For the benefits of this model to be realised, the commitment to common results must be shared throughout agencies otherwise progress may be impeded.

The shared responsibility taken on by CEs in this model creates reliance on others over whom individual leaders have no direct control and a limited ability to impose sanctions or rewards. The horizontal accountabilities created by coordination and collaboration that co-exist with traditional vertical accountabilities can result in complexities that need to be managed. Informal ministerial groupings can help to resolve these trade-offs between vertical and horizontal accountability.

Case Study: Justice Sector Board

The Justice Sector Leadership Board is made up of:

  • Secretary for Justice (chair)
  • Commissioner, NZ Police
  • Chief Executive, Department of Corrections
  • Chief Executive, Oranga Tamariki
  • Chief Executive, Serious Fraud Office
  • Solicitor-General, Crown Law Office.

The Leadership Board is responsible for ensuring the sector achieves its collective goals. It coordinates major change programmes and oversees planning to improve services, reduce harm and the number of people in the criminal justice system, maintain institutions and manage investment. It was founded on a shared understanding of the sector as operating as a ‘pipeline’ which individuals move down – this clear and linear interdependence helped to secure commitment to cross-agency working.


The Leadership Board operates using cascading levels of governance at ministerial, CE and deputy CE levels, with the ‘core’ operational agencies focused on the pipeline (Justice, Police, Corrections and Oranga Tamariki) meeting more frequently than the full group including Serious Fraud Office and Crown Law.

The Leadership Board operates under a terms of reference which set out:

  • board purpose and vision
  • membership
  • objectives
  • board accountabilities
  • chair and board members
  • how the board was supported
  • meetings
  • and communication principles.

The board is collectively responsible for the overall performance of the sector. The board does not cut across the line accountabilities of the board members to their ministers, or make decisions that would override their authority over their respective agencies.

Board members are responsible for delivering initiatives to achieve targets set by the board, for ensuring that their individual agency’s decisions support the board’s overall ambition, and that their agency’s performance doesn’t impact negatively on the performance of the sector. Board members are also responsible for modelling, promoting and developing a collaborative way of working among themselves and between sector agencies.

The governance mechanism is supported by the Justice Sector Directorate in the Ministry of Justice. This team performs a range of policy, data analysis and measurement functions to advise leaders on strategic and investment decisions for the justice sector.


There was a joint funding arrangement to support the board. The Justice Sector Fund (JSF) was created in April 2012. It was a way for the justice sector to share savings and gave them financial flexibility to invest in areas that deliver better results to New Zealanders. Through the JSF they were able to use the money saved by an agency to fund another agency’s initiatives to reduce crime and reoffending.

The Justice Sector Fund arrangement has been superseded by the sector/cluster approach now taken to the Budget. 

A secretariat in the Ministry of Justice also manages the distribution of the Proceeds of Crime Fund to projects right across government that address:

  • organised crime harm and drug-related harm
  • test innovative solutions to complex issues relating to crime-related harm
  • enable agencies to build an evidence-based case of what works in addressing crime-related harm, including both prevention and remediation of harm to raise the wellbeing and resilience of communities affected by drugs and crime.

About the justice sector — New Zealand Ministry of Justice

Justice, Estimates by Sector, 19 May 2022 — Budget 2022