01 August 2022

Services and related funding transferred from one agency with policy responsibility to another with related services that could be better done in combination.

The basics

  • When to use this tool

    • Customers find existing arrangements difficult (pain points)
    • Federation would provide critical mass for economic and capable delivery
    • Federation would make it easier for customers
    • Service can be easily separated and transferred from one agency to another
  • How to agree goals/outcomes

    Any of:

    • Entrepreneurial staff encouraged to propose opportunities
    • Pain points research to determine problem areas
    • Priorities/sequence agreed by PSLT
  • Governance model required

    • Lead agency appointed for delivering service (test and learn)
    • Service level agreements with other agencies
    • May require an interdepartmental venture to hold shared assets
  • Ministerial relationships required

    • Separate reporting to separate ministers
  • Incentives required

    • Reporting of pain points
    • Reporting progress/successes to PSLT
    • Reporting progress/successes to ministers
  • How to manage the funding

    • Funding transferred to lead agency

About this model

This model might be used where some, but not all, of the resources for achieving a particular goal can be identified and held separately, and when the goal to be achieved requires access to capabilities and/or assets from the other party (or parties) in the partnership. It could be used for policy, planning or delivery.

The ‘federated services’ model involves the transfer of relevant resources and accountability to a single lead department.

The lead chief executive is formally accountable to a minister in relation to a shared goal that crosses departmental boundaries. Under this model, usually the majority of the core resources and capabilities required to achieve the shared goal are already held by the lead department, or are transferred to it by contributing departments — there is no pooling or cross-agency ownership of resources. If cross-agency ownership of resources or assets was considered necessary, a interdepartmental venture would be required. Depending on the nature and extent of the transfer of resources and responsibilities, contributing department chief executives may retain only residual accountability. The lead department ensures the continued alignment of the contributing agencies with the shared goal.

Each of the contributing departments may have core services (for example specialist health services) which are too difficult to quantify and transfer, but that need to be accessed by the lead department in order to deliver on the shared goal. A range of governance mechanisms (for example boards of chief executives) and agreements (for example, memoranda of understanding) are used to secure access to resources needed by the lead department.

However, because this model transfers responsibility and effort to a single agency, this can reduce buy-in and commitment from other departments. This is a particular problem for cross-agency work that requires the sustained efforts of more than one department.

Case study: SmartStart

SmartStart was developed based on the understanding that any one life event is likely to require connecting multiple agencies seamlessly to deliver a great customer experience. It alleviates identified customer pain points around dealing with government services and entitlements when having a child and puts the customer at the centre, where essential transactions related to having a baby can be done in one place, anywhere and anytime.

It was developed through a multi-agency initiative delivered by Department of Internal Affairs, Inland Revenue, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Health with advice and support from Plunket NZ and the New Zealand College of Midwives.

SmartStart acts as a federated service as it enables new parents to update their benefit with Ministry of Social Development, request an Inland Revenue number for their baby and update their Working for Families application, all from the birth registration process. The information is collected through the SmartStart interface by DIA and, if requested by the parent, shared with a range of other agencies to complete transactions.

Home — SmartStart

Further reading

The Joint Border Management System has developed a Trade Single Window that takes a similar form to SmartStart.

Joint Border Management System — New Zealand Customs Service