The Capability Review Programme aims to lift the overall capability of the Public Service.  

The reviews take a forward-looking approach to support Public Service leaders to understand the direction they need to head in, the steps needed to get there, and challenges they may face along the way. This will ensure that the Public Service remains effective and responsive in an ever-changing context to meet the future needs of our communities. 

The Programme includes Agency Capability Reviews and System Capability Reviews. Agency Capability Reviews support an agency's ability to meet future objectives and challenges. System Capability Reviews take a broader lens to support groups of agencies and chief executives to work together across boundaries to deliver shared outcomes and work across common customers, clients, and businesses. 

By lifting agency and system capability, the Programme will prepare the Public Service with the right capability to meet future needs. The Capability Review Programme aims to:  

  • help senior leaders to lift the capability of their agencies and systems 
  • embed a culture of continuous improvement across the Public Service, and 
  • ensure agencies and systems are well-placed to deliver government priorities and outcomes for New Zealanders. 

The Capability Review Programme reflects and embeds the Public Service Act 2020, including a focus on the Māori-Crown relationship, system leadership and diversity and inclusion. It also supports progress to transform and modernise the Public Service, by supporting achievement of the seven areas for progress identified in Te Kahu Tuatini State of the Public Service (2022). 

Reviews will be undertaken by independent Lead Reviewers who have a strong understanding of the Public Service and knowledge of how agencies can build and maintain capability. 

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu Questions and Answers

  • How does the Capability Review Programme differ from the Performance Improvement Framework?

    The Capability Review Programme is an evolution of the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF). The PIF model was last updated in 2015 and expectations of the Public Service have continued to evolve since then. Previous evaluations of the PIF highlighted the value of reviews in supporting agencies to shape their strategic direction and grow capability over time – this is a key element we have prioritised in our development of the Capability Review Programme. 

    Capability Reviews draw on the best parts of the PIF, including using independent Lead Reviewers that support chief executives in defining the future direction for their agencies and the capability shifts required to prepare for the future. It also incorporates elements of the PIF model and these have been updated to reflect changes through the Public Service Act 2020.  

    The Capability Review Programme introduces a stronger focus on the direction and future readiness of agencies working together to deliver shared outcomes across common shared customers, clients and businesses. This focus is the basis for the introduction of the new System Capability Model and is supported through elements of the Agency Capability Model.

  • How does the Capability Review Programme support the changes introduced through the Public Service Act 2020?

    The Public Service Act 2020 sets out the framework for a modern, agile, leading-edge and unified Public Service. It builds on New Zealand’s long-standing reputation for having a world-class Public Service, with the overall aim of delivering better outcomes and services for all New Zealanders.

    The key shifts introduced by the Act focus on a unified public service, strengthening the Crown’s relationships with Māori, employment and workforce, leadership and organisational flexibility.

    Through Agency Capability Reviews, chief executives will gain insights in these areas to enhance organisational capability and deliver a high-performing and unified Public Service.

    The new System Capability Model is designed to support groups of agencies that are delivering shared outcomes and working across common customers, clients and businesses. It is intended as a tool that is able to support the new organisational forms enabled through the Public Service Act 2020.

  • Who are the Lead Reviewers?

    Each Review is led by two independent Lead Reviewers. They are selected from a panel of individuals with depth and experience in organisational management and public sector leadership. Choosing two Lead Reviewers who complement each other, bring the skills and experience that best respond to the agency’s context, and who can work well with the agency’s senior leadership is key to ensuring a useful and insightful review.    

    All members of the Panel are highly experienced reviewers, with extensive experience in the Public Service. Some have previously been involved with PIF reviews.

  • What is the benefit for the public?

    Effective and efficient public services require capable, high-performing agencies. Capability Reviews are designed to ensure that the Public Service is building and maintaining the right capabilities to respond to challenges and take advantage of opportunities now and in the future. This will ensure that services and functions remain effective and responsive in an ever-changing context to meet the future needs of our communities. Capability Reviews will provide chief executives with insights to shape the strategic direction and capability of their agencies.

  • How long will a review take?

    A typical Agency Capability Review will take around five months to complete. The process involves initiation, agency Self-Review, interviews, report drafting, and publication. The core part of the review for the agency takes approximately one month and includes Lead Reviewers undertaking interviews on-site and providing insights to senior leadership.

  • What are the benefits for agencies?

    Capability Reviews provide agency leaders with an independent, forward-looking view of an agency's ability to meet future objectives and challenges. They aim to facilitate discussions around an agency’s desired future state, highlight organisational capability gaps and identify opportunities to address them.  

    Reviews are an investment in long-term capability and an opportunity to focus on strengths and development areas in the context of the anticipated future operating environment. Reviews are conducted working closely with agencies to complement existing initiatives within agencies and provide an independent evidence base for further targeted change. The insights from Capability Reviews provide chief executives with an external perspective to help shape the strategic direction and capability of their agencies.

  • What agencies will be undertaking an Agency Capability Review in 2023?

    The list of agencies currently undertaking an Agency Capability Review in 2023 are: 

    • Ministry for Pacific Peoples
    • Ministry of Transport 
    • Inland Revenue 
  • What happens following a Capability Review?

    Following a Capability Review, chief executives will have independent insights to guide the strategic direction of their agencies over a 4 – 5 year period. These insights will help chief executives understand where and what they need to focus their efforts on to continue building capability within their agencies. The Public Service Commission will work closely with chief executives to realise the opportunities identified through a Capability Review.

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