Institute for Governance and Policy Studies

Future State Part 1

Future State Part 1 was an exploratory exercise designed to identify the longer- term public policy challenges facing New Zealand. While the particular concern was to identify potential public policy issues for the EIP work programme, Future State Part 1 also reviewed the ability of the public management system to respond to these issues. A final report from the Future State Part 1 project can be accessed here.

In brief, four key challenges emerged from a scan of the issues:

  • Affordability;
  • Complicated problems involving many players;
  • A more diverse and differentiated population;
  • A world of faster, less-predictable change.

Future State Part 1 identified two priority public management system changes:

    • Moving from the current approach focused on management control to an approach where a wider range of models are used and competing values are integrated; and
    • Improving top-line whole-of-system performance and simultaneously maintaining and improving bottom-line performance of the component parts.

Future State Part 2 (see below) will develop the directions for reform of the public management system to support new ways of working in response to the challenges identified in Future State Part 1. The key conclusions from Future State Part 1 include that a focus on bottom-line performance of individual public organisations will not generate the step changes required to address the challenges discussed above. Greater focus will be needed on whole-of-system performance in addition to initiatives designed to improve performance of the component parts. The findings from the EIP project on Managing for Organisational Performance will provide a useful evidence base to address the issues of cross-organisational working and joint accountability.

Other jurisdictions are grappling with similar issues. Reflecting on Canadian experiences in particular, the former head of the Privy Council Office Jocelyne Bourgon suggests “a commitment to system-wide and societal results would require three things:

  • Creating a workable system of shared accountability for results when multiple actors are involved; 
  • Modernizing the role of departments from vertical silos to acting as hubs of vast networks of public and or private organizations - a role akin to that of central agencies today; and
  • Repositioning the role of the center of government from control to ensuring coherence in the interagency and intergovernmental space of modern governance”.

Future State Part 2

Future State 2 is a research project being undertaken on behalf of state services chief executives as part of the Emerging Issues Programme (EIP). The project aims to identify how the ‘centre’ can support new ways of working that are required for the public sector to respond effectively to emerging complex problem, and how individual agencies could promote new ways of working. It builds on the findings from the Future State 1 project
IPS WP 10/08. For an overview of the public management research under EIP and Future State 2 in particular go to the overview paper.

There are seven strands to this project; 1) Emerging trends in governance, 2) International perspectives, 3) Joint accountability, 4) Experimentation and learning in policy implementation, 5) Agency restructuring, 6) Skills and capabilities, and 7) The authorising environment.  The project will produce seven IPS working papers:

Paper 1 - Emerging trends in governance (Bill Ryan) The Signs are already there? Public Management futures in Aotearoa New Zealand?

Paper 2 - International perspectives (Evert Lindquist) – No reform left behind: Integrating Frameworks and Implications for New Zealand Centre of Government and Public Sector Improvement. 

Paper 3 - Joint accountability (Derek Gill, Jonathan Boston) – Joint or shared accountability: Issues, Options and Policy Implications.

Paper 4- Experimentation and Learning in Policy Implementation (Amanda Wolf, David Turner, Elizabeth Eppel) Experimentation and Learning in Policy Implementation: the public management implications(plus case studies see below)

Case studies arising from Paper 4
Establishing the Tertiary Education Commission
Land and Water Forum
School Effectiveness in Mangere and Otara (SEMO)

Family Violence Prevention

Paper 5 - Skills and people capability in the future state: Needs, barriers and opportunities (Geoff Plimmer, Derek Gill and Richard Norman)

Paper 6 - Agency restructuring (Richard Norman and Derek Gill) Organisational restructuring in the New Zealand State Sector.

Paper 7 - The authorising environment (Elizabeth Eppel) The authorising environment – a literature review.

For further details contact the project manager –