Machinery of government refers to the structures of government and how they work.

The Public Service Act provides for a range of new organisational arrangements which can be used within the Public Service, in addition to the department and departmental agency models. These models provide new ways to take a joined up approach to respond to complex cross-agency problems or respond to priorities needing stronger visibility and accountability. Guidance for these new models can be found under the ‘Organisational Forms’ tab.

Existing guidance on machinery of government still applies, and will be updated in due course to include the new models where relevant, and ensure terminology is consistent with that in the Public Service Act.


Machinery of government refers to the governance and structures of government and how they work. It includes the changing set of organisations within government, their functions and governance arrangements, and how they work together to deliver results for Ministers and the public. Traditionally, changes to the machinery of government have been understood as structural changes (requiring legislation or Orders in Council to affect). In this guidance we are taking a wider view of the term and now include system-design changes that are non-structural in nature as well.

The Public Service Commissioner is responsible for reviewing the governance and structures of government and providing advice on proposed changes. Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission should be consulted on all proposed machinery of government/system-design changes early in the process.

The following guidance and information has been developed by Te Kawa Mataaho to assist public servants and other employees in the state services navigate the process of developing advice on machinery of government and implementing change.

Contact us at with any comments, questions, suggestions or if you’d like to be kept informed of any updates.

Introduction to Machinery of Government Process Guides Shared Problems Organisational Forms New Zealand's State sector - the organisations Machinery of Government Resources

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