The fireside chat with Peter Hughes on 31 October used a different format from previous NZRise events.  Peter started by asking attendees what they wanted him to cover during the hour – a big list of potential topics for the leader of the public service.  The questions covered a wide range of topics including the pending legislative reforms, IT procurement and governance, relationships between public and private sector and “fake news”.

Peter talked about his career in the public service since 1981 when he started as a clerical officer 107.101 in a hierarchical public service with centralised control. He spoke of the changes that came from State Sector reform in 1988, and the need for changes to create a modern, agile and adaptive Public Service.

The main focus of the discussion was the reforms and Peter’s vision for a Public Service unified in a spirit of service.  The proposals are outlined in a series of papers on the SSC website, which have been open for consultation. Legislation is expected to be introduced into the House before the end of 2019 and has five areas of change:

  • A unified Public Service with a common set of values and purpose
  • Te Ao Tūmatanui – Strengthening the Māori/Crown relationship
  • Employment and workforce
  • Leadership of the Public Service
  • Organisations of the Public Service

The challenge of information technology management in a rapidly changing digital environment was raised and Peter said this was something agencies were focused on addressing.

He also sees the proliferation of social media and disinformation campaigns as a big disrupter to trust and confidence in government and the public service.  This subject is discussed in Disinformation and Democracy one of the articles in our latest newsletter.

The successful event was hosted at Datacom, and we hope it will be the first of many. Peter indicated he would be willing and interested in a follow up session next year.


Laurence Millar, NZRise board member.

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