By Suzannah Brecknell

27 Aug 2014

Iain Rennie, state services commissioner at the New Zealand Government, tells Civil Service World about the strengths and weaknesses of his home civil service

Which events or policies are dominating your attention, and how are you tackling them?
The focus for the New Zealand public service is supporting the government’s four priorities: returning the budget to surplus; creating a more productive economy; delivering better results from public services; and supporting the rebuilding of Christchurch, following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Each of these priorities requires us to work smarter and in a more integrated way across government, and to partner effectively with the private and non-profit sectors.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your civil service?
Our chief strengths are delivering on the priorities of government; dealing with immediate issues or events; and managing transactional stakeholder relationships. We are less strong on positioning our organisations to anticipate the issues that they will confront over the longer term.

How are you changing the shape and capabilities of your civil service?
We are working to enable both senior and emerging leaders to work more confidently across the public sector and beyond to drive better results for New Zealanders. We are also beginning to focus on mobilising and improving the capability of professions that are critical to public sector reform; human resources, finance, IT and policy professions are our current priority.

Name your favourite author, musician or sporting team – and breakfast!
Unsurprisingly, as a New Zealander, the All Blacks are my favourite team. They are one of the most consistently successful sporting teams on the planet. As a civil service, we have much we can learn from them about identifying and developing great talent. As to breakfast, anything that comes with black pudding!

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