Yes Minister?

Michael Laws suggests today that the real enemy of the new Government is the public service.

Like rust, New Zealand’s civil service never sleeps. And like rust, it silently corrodes ministers’ ambitions and aspiration. Forget the global credit crunch: this new government’s enemy is already within.

I tend to agree, but it is a pretty dumb public servant who doesn’t yet reaalise how much their world has changed. 

CEOs got the clear message from John Key earlier in the week about wanting change.  And change John Key will get.  For the public servants who don’t deliver the change will be their jobs.  Rsik aversion, caution, obviscation will not be tolerated.  This Government wants results, and fast results.  Those uncomfortable with the requirement to take some risk to deliver the desired outcomes, those unwilling to adopt private sector management systems, those unwilling to contemplate the adoption of clear and measurable performance targets should go now and let those willing to deliver on the new Government’s expectations to come through and implement change.

Initial feedback I am receiving from a range of Ministers is that in the first few weeks of the new Government most senior public servants have not yet fully grasped the extent of change that is required.  This is a bit worrying, as from what I hear major change is needed in pretty much all departments.

Anyone in any doubt should find out what happened to the proposal that 22 officials travel to the climate change meetings in Poland.  The asumption was it was business as usual.  Bad call………………



3 Responses to “Yes Minister?”

  1. Sally Says:

    Let’s hope that this message applies to CEO’s and Mayors of all councils.

  2. adamsmith1922 Says:

    What appalls me is the fact that these beliefs and attitudes exist still.

    Waste and incompetence should be rooted out whichever party is in power.

  3. Paul Williams Says:

    Charles, it’d be easy to dismiss your comments as being diversionary. You chastise the public service for being laggards meanwhile you offer Ministers’ simple solutions. New Ministers can fall for the easy appeal of lobbyist who proffer immediate results unencumbered by all that damned complexity. However, I’m sure there’s a germ of truth in what you say. I recall several senior bureaucrats circa 1999 who were unwilling to accept new directions. I also recall a number of lobbyists similarly unhappy that their pet projects were being scrutinised.

    There’s a place for both, I’m sure you appreciate. Lobbyists can provide more focused advice, though often irreconcilable with the interests of others, whereas bureaucrats necessarily deliver carefully calibrated advice. Ministers too reliant on either side are at risk.

    For every reluctant CEO, there’s a equal number of zealous lobbyist offering up snake-oil. Not true of you, of course, but undoubtedly true of Mr Laws.

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