1 May 2018: The Government announced in January 2018 that the Better Public Services programme would not continue in this form. These pages have been archived.

Why change anything?

The New Zealand public sector is highly regarded internationally. It consistently does well in measurements of our trust, integrity and general performance including:

But why settle for good when we could be great? We can and must do better.

The State Services of the future needs to operate much more as a system rather than a collection of fragmented individual agencies. The public and government expect government services to be designed and delivered around the needs of New Zealanders, not around organisational boundaries.

The State sector is competing for a work force whose talent is much more in demand today than 15 or 20 years ago from both private sector and international employers.

The long term fiscal outlook means the public sector - no matter who is in charge of the Treasury benches - has to be prudent and economical.

Transformation vision

The transformation has begun to meet these challenges. The State Services is concentrating on the issues that really matter for New Zealanders and is focussing money, people and information to where it is needed most.

In the next three to five years the State Services will:

  • function as a single system, rather than a collection of individual agencies
  • focus effort, people, skills and money where they are most effective to achieve the key results that New Zealanders need
  • be led by chief executives and senior leaders who are highly skilled in driving innovation within and across agencies, and in collaborating across the State Services, community, and private organisations to achieve collective impact.
  • have the capability and resilience to meet the tasks of the day, but to also flexibly adapt to the challenges of future change and opportunity
  • be highly capable in the use of technology to provide better services and increase efficiency
  • design services with and for the people who use them
  • transparently measure and report on the performance of agencies, sectors, and the whole system to identify weaknesses and drive further improvement.


To achieve this we need a broad programme of change across the whole State services. It's a three pronged approach.

Results - the State Services has to focus on the issues that really matter for New Zealanders and focus money, people and information where they are needed

Leadership - we need leaders of the State Services system, not of individual agencies - with much stronger management and leadership development

Stewardship - people working in the State Services are caretakers of this system, not owners. We must build much more capability and resilience into our State Services for the benefit of current and future New Zealanders


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