More, better with less: inside NZ’s silo-breaking reform

New Zealand’s drive for “more and better” public services for less money put the focus on outcomes and empowered public servants to work together. The result is an increasingly joined-up government.

As New Zealand Prime Minister John Key settles in for a third term with an increased majority, his sweeping public service reforms are turning a collection of separate organisations into a cohesive system focused on clear outcomes.

Back in March 2012, Key made taxpayers a familiar-sounding promise: better public services and more bang for their collective billions at the same time. The government set 10 measurable performance targets for the public service to achieve while delivering efficiency dividends of 3-6%.

“Achieving these results will be difficult and demanding — in fact, for some of them, it will be extremely difficult,” the prime minister acknowledged, as he launched the Better Public Services initiative in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. “But,” he added, “I make no apology for my high expectations.”

Key was adamant it was a to-do list, not a wish list:

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