Cross-agency experience
Amber Bill from Department of Conservation and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet standing in front of sculpture in Vietnam and wearing sunglasses

Career Boards are a way for chief executives to provide senior leaders with cross-agency development through brokering roles across the system.

Amber Bill is a Career Board cohort member who has been a Director at the Department of Conservation since 2017. Earlier this year, she took up the role of Head of System Assurance and Continuous Improvement, COVID-19 Group, at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“Having the support of the Career Board and the brokering process really made me feel valued by, and connected to, the Public Service as a whole.”

Secondments like this allow for connection between agencies, as well as the development of our people.

“It’s impressive to see agencies working together so collaboratively on a shared outcome. While in my case this is the COVID-19 response and recovery, there are principles and lessons learned from this response for the wider Public Service in terms of working together to a shared outcome, within a framework of clear accountabilities and contributing to one another’s strengths.”

Workforce development

For the workforce development area, the Act emphasises the need to work as a single system, combined with specific mechanisms, such as workforce policy statements, which ensure common approaches to workforce and employment issues across the Public Service. Ultimately, these will work to provide a greater element of ‘interoperability’ in the workforce. Over time, this will build the framework for a future workforce mobility system that enables ease of movement, cross-system career development and the retention of people within the Service.   

We discussed earlier the Workforce Mobility Hub in connection with the COVID-19 response. The hub’s priority has been (and remains) delivering brokering services for critical COVID-19 workforce resourcing, primarily but not exclusively for the Ministry of Health. However, in March 2021, the hub broadened its service to also focus on:

  • supporting transitioning workforces, including:
    • cross-system (re)employment of people impacted by redundancy in their home agency; and
    • the development of models that support surging workforces
  • designing, building and piloting a digital workforce mobility system; leveraging the existing system-wide jobs.govt.nz recruitment platform to create a Public Service internal deployment opportunities and jobs board.

The hub is a leading example of the kind of agile, unified and inclusive approach that the Act enables and encourages. An important start has been made over the 2020 year, and work to expand the hub’s services will continue to be a priority for the next few years.

During the year, we released the first Government Workforce Policy Statement, under the Public Service Act, setting out the Government’s expectations for public sector employment relations. The Workforce Policy Statement sets expectations around a unified Public Service workforce, emphasising the need to work collaboratively with unions and other groups, create an inclusive environment for all workers and support the Government’s fiscal strategy. The Workforce Policy Statement outlines expectations of what these priorities mean in regard to negotiating employment agreements and employment relations generally.

As highlighted above, an important development is the extension of our system leadership role by way of a stronger involvement with Crown entities. Governance of Crown entities, either by boards or individuals, is key to overseeing and confirming appropriate Crown entity service delivery.

Since February 2020, we have been coordinating the Monitoring, Appointments and Governance Network (MAGNet), a cross-agency network of officials who provide Ministers with advice on Crown entity performance and on appointments to boards and other public bodies. Since February 2020, MAGNet membership has grown from 98 to 158. We have established an ongoing programme of joint work that focuses on sharing information and good practices to enable both system-wide and departmental improvements. Examples include: assessing and lifting regulatory performance, determining core competencies for board members, using a skills matrix to assess board make-up and needs and system changes to lift diversity on boards. Feedback indicates that officials find the events helpful to build knowledge and skills and to initiate collaborative approaches.

The Commissioner leads the PSLT that was developed, within the statutory mandate provided by the Act, to work as a collective leadership group for the Public Service. All existing chief executives were appointed to the PSLT on the passage of the Act into law. The PSLT has been central to progressing the COVID-19 recovery, as outlined earlier in this report and to the implementation of the Act.

A range of cross-Service leads operate on particular aspects of the Public Service, including critical aspects of reform. To date, these have included functional leads and heads of profession. Major current developments include: the work to establish shared Public Service work and collaboration spaces in the Wellington region and the ongoing development of integrated service delivery initiatives, through the Government Chief Digital Officer and the Digital Public Service branch located in the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Act created new tools to strengthen system leadership providing the ability for the Commissioner to designate a public service chief executive as a system leader to lead and co-ordinate best practice in a particular subject matter area across the Public Service. The first system leader to be designated by the Commissioner under the new Act has responsibility for our work under the Joined-Up Government in the Regions programme. The role is performed by the Chief Executive, Ministry of Social Development, Debbie Power.

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