01 August 2022

An agency or Public Service leader with a natural responsibility in an area of government performance leads the system with support and commitment from PSLT.

The basics

  • When to use this tool

    • An agency with a clear/natural responsibility for improving a specific area of government performance
    • Either representing a demographic group or function of government
    • Giving an agency or group power to direct other agencies is not an appropriate solution (discharge role through influence, transparency and so on)
  • How to agree goals/outcomes

    • Plan proposed by CEs to PSLT
    • PSLT (revise and) collectively agree to plan
  • Governance model required

    • PSLT to agree the mandate of the role and be updated on progress where necessary
    • PSLT to hold each other collectively responsible for agreed actions/behaviour
  • Ministerial relationships required

    • May have no ministerial relationship
    • Where this does exist, leader to balance direct accountability to own minister with collective agreements with PSLT
  • Incentives required

    • PSLT to set clear expectations for actions/behaviour
    • Voluntary guidelines and best practice set by leader
    • Standards proposed by leader and agreed by  PSLT
    • Recognising good practice (at PSLT or elsewhere)
    • Focus on performance information as a lever – reporting to PSLT, to ministers, and/or to the public.
    • Recognition for CEs
  • How to manage the funding

    Any combination of:

    • Leader to fund own activities from baseline/own appropriation
    • Club funding where required for collective-good activity
    • System fund or dedicated appropriation for cross-agency work

About this model

Functional leadership is a mechanism to secure economies or efficiencies across departments, improve services or service delivery, develop expertise and capability across the Public Service, and ensure business continuity. Functional leaders can include ‘heads of profession’, who lead the development of a profession or occupational group within the Public Service, such as legal or finance.