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Rautaki mō tētahi Rāngai Kāwanatanga Matihiko

Strategy for a Digital Public Service

The Strategy is a call to action for the public service to operate in the digital world in a more modern and efficient way — delivering the outcomes that Aotearoa New Zealand needs.

Kupu whakataki a te Minita

Minister’s foreword (Chapter 1 of 13)

We live in a rapidly changing world, in which technology touches on every part of our everyday lives including the way we work, stay in touch with family and friends, get from A to B, shop and learn.

These advances in technology have brought new possibilities and also created new expectations.

As Minister for Government Digital Services, I am committed to ensuring New Zealanders’ experiences with government are inclusive and accessible, responsive to their needs and meet their expectations.

The Strategy for a Digital Public Service offers an opportunity for our public service to move into the future and give people the same speed and quality of experience with government agencies that they have with private sector organisations.

It focuses on driving the public sector to rethink how services are delivered for New Zealanders while making sure people can be confident that those digital services are safe and secure.

When we talk about digital we mean much more than new technologies and improving IT services. It has come to mean doing things differently, using new mindsets, skills and data, as well as technologies that have led to the development of new ways of working with which we are now so familiar.

Our public service is already trusted and highly regarded as a global leader in digital government. The Strategy for a Digital Public Service is going to help us build on the good work that has got us here.

The Strategy for a Digital Public Service sets a direction to develop a modern public service and the systems which will meet the needs of people in a modern, changing world, so it is easier for people to have seamless access to the government services they want and need.

Our Government has prioritised improving the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and their families. The Strategy for a Digital Public Service will help us to do this.

There is a lot of work to do and I am excited to share this Strategy, which is a key step in helping us develop a public service which better meets the needs of New Zealanders now and in the future.

Hon Kris Faafoi

Minister of Government Digital Services

November 2019

Kupu whakataki a Te Kaiārahi Matihiko Matua a te Kāwanatanga

Government Chief Digital Officer’s foreword (Chapter 2 of 13)

Nāku te maringa nui ki te whakaatu i tēnei Rautaki — It is my privilege to present this Strategy.

I’m proud to present the Strategy for a Digital Public Service, which is our call to action for the public service to operate effectively in the digital world and to make it as easy as possible for New Zealanders to engage with us.

Traditionally, government services were designed around our own needs and capabilities. However, they should be tailored to the public’s needs, not ours. That’s what New Zealanders expect of us, so we’re shifting to design our services around their lives. This is an exciting and compelling driver for change as we embark on our digital public service journey.

As Government Chief Digital Officer, I’m responsible for driving government’s digital transformation and positioning government to be responsive in a changing digital age.

Our role is to think about how the whole public service system works and how we can keep the public at the centre of everything we do. This includes setting up, coordinating, advising and ensuring the right building blocks are in place to support our digital transformation vision.

We’re creating a culture of collaboration between public sector agencies, growing a public service which can react quickly, navigate change and deliver digital outcomes for New Zealanders.

This Strategy gives us the opportunity to join up government behind the scenes, as we work as a unified public service, work with partners from within and outside of government, make people-centred decisions, act quickly, prioritise value for money and remain accountable to the public.

Moving from an agency-focused model to one which puts people and the wider public sector first is a significant change for the public service. As we progress this work, we will continue to focus on improvements that provide New Zealanders with the best possible services in ways which suit their needs and expectations.

The Strategy for a Digital Public Service reflects the unique context of Aotearoa New Zealand. It reflects and embraces te ao Māori, our collaborative and innovative spirit, and our globally recognised leadership in trust, integrity and transparency.

We’ve taken time to get this strategy right, working collaboratively across the public service to set a clear shared direction. I know our collective efforts and spirit of service will deliver superb results for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

Paul James

Chief Government Digital Officer

November 2019

Kupu whakataki

Introduction (Chapter 3 of 13)

Along with all New Zealanders, the New Zealand public service is experiencing the move to a digital and connected world.

The Strategy sets a whole-of-public-service direction — one that improves the efficiency of the public service, enables change, supports better services and the digital transformation of agencies, putting people and businesses at the centre of government services.

Digital is about more than new technologies and improving IT systems. It also means doing things differently using new mindsets, skills, data and technologies to overcome barriers and better meet New Zealand’s needs.

We’re starting from a strong base with a trusted public service. New Zealand is highly regarded as a global leader in digital government.

A lot has already been achieved but we need to act to keep up with the pace of change, to offer more than ICT solutions, and change how we work together through our leadership, culture, skills and behaviours.

Achieving our vision will take time. We’ve built a strong foundation for digital transformation, and we’ve set ourselves realistic outcomes.

It’s now our moment for all of government to work together in new ways and embed new behaviours that will add value to the lives of all New Zealanders.

He whakamārama

Background (Chapter 4 of 13)

The drivers for change in the digital revolution happening around the world are fast, complex and demanding.

The pace of change impacts us all, changing how we live, work and interact. Advances in technology have brought new possibilities and created new expectations.

Many people are used to doing everything from their banking to their grocery shopping online, where they want, when they want. When people access government services, they want the same convenience, speed, quality of experience and ease of use they have with private sector organisations.

Whether people choose to interact online or by other means, they expect high quality services centred around their needs. And this requires government agencies to make a shift away from the traditional way we’ve been operating and offering services.

New Zealand also faces increasing social, environmental and economic challenges. A digital public service can grow capacity and capability to collaboratively address these complex issues.

Development of the Strategy

The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) developed the Strategy in partnership with chief executives from the Digital Government Leadership Group (DGLG) and key stakeholders, using research and feedback, workshops, hacks and open forum sessions.

Te take me panoni tātau

Why we need to change (Chapter 5 of 13)

We need to become a modern public service to embrace the opportunities that digital offers.

Technology can help lift the public service’s capability to deliver services that are centred on New Zealanders’ needs.

Digital tools and practices can help people access personalised services where and when they need them, engage in decisions about issues they care about, and maintain trust in an open, transparent and inclusive government.

Digital presents an opportunity to re-imagine service design — ultimately providing services that can evolve to meet people’s needs as circumstances change.

Current state

When people access our services, they expect seamless services that are centred around the events in their lives. They don’t want to have to navigate multiple agencies or tell their story over and over again to deal with 1 life event, like having a baby or becoming a senior.

The public service is well on the way to helping people find the information and services they want and need from government. However, the current system is geared towards delivery by individual agencies rather than as part of an integrated system.

Challenges and opportunities

We’re dealing with increasing diversity and complexity in both society and the economy. Challenges such as climate change, mental health, poverty and family violence are more interconnected and often outside the mandate of any 1 agency to fix.

Digital offers an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the achievement of Māori aspirations. Emerging technologies, digital tools and the pace of change mean the wellbeing outcomes sought by the Crown and Māori could be achieved much faster than we ever anticipated.

We also recognise some people can’t or don’t want to engage online or use digital services. Digital transformation is about how we meet everyone’s needs through better design and collaboration, whether online, face-to-face, through others or by phone.

We’re moving from an agency-centric model to one that puts people and the wider public sector first. Recognising the needs and expectations of people — all New Zealanders — will enable government to deliver a better experience.

We’re not starting from scratch

The Strategy is a step change from the previous ICT strategy (2013, amended 2015), and builds on the good thinking and work that’s got us here.

It takes a people-first, system-wide view of the ecosystem that government operates in so we can take full advantage of the opportunities in the global digital landscape. And it focuses on the people, behaviours and system settings that will enable a modern public service to implement, adapt and grow against a background of change.

What’s unchanged

  • People expect government to respond well to their needs.
  • Government resources are finite and we need to allocate and use them wisely.
  • The need to maintain people’s trust and confidence in government, addressing safety, security and privacy.

What’s different

  • Society and people’s needs are changing faster, and we must be able to respond and adapt quickly.
  • People expect to be involved in the design of services.
  • We realise that, to take advantage of what technology has to offer, people with the right skills and behaviours are fundamental to a modern digital strategy.
  • Our shared commitment to a unified public service.

Te whakatakoto i tō tātau ahunga rautaki

Setting our strategic direction (Chapter 6 of 13)

This is our opportunity to embed digital mindsets, skillsets, data and technology into the public service, making government responsive and relevant to all New Zealanders.

Supporting government priorities now and in the future

The Strategy aims to support Government priorities:

  • a growing economy
  • improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families
  • building a better country which all New Zealanders can be proud of

A strategy grounded in the Aotearoa New Zealand context

The Strategy aspires to meet the needs of New Zealand’s diverse community by partnering with our citizens — all New Zealanders.

We’re building on our unique national strengths and differences:

  • te ao Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • our social democracy
  • our collaborative and innovative spirit
  • our recognised global leadership in trust, integrity and transparency

Commitment to the Māori–Crown Treaty Partnership

The Strategy embraces Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi principles and supports a public service that meets the aspirations and needs of Māori.

This includes making sure Māori are involved in decisions relating to the digital transformation of the public service.

We know that building authentic and enduring relationships with Māori benefits all New Zealanders.

Ngā huanga

Outcomes (Chapter 7 of 13)

Together these outcomes will improve how government works together, how New Zealanders interact with government, and how the public service — in collaboration with partners — solves complex problems for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Better results for New Zealand through a digital public service

Government has the capacity and capability to collaboratively address complex issues, and grow New Zealand’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

New Zealanders’ experience with government improves

Government services are responsive to New Zealanders’ needs and expectations, and are inclusive and accessible.

A modern, agile and adaptive public service

The public service is modern and continually adapting to change. With its partners, it has the skills, mindset, technology and data to operate at pace.

A strengthened Māori–Crown relationship

Honours the Māori–Crown relationship. Develops and maintains an enduring relationship with Māori for the creation of a digital public service that’s responsive to the needs and aspirations of all New Zealanders.

Ngā mea hei whakatutuki mā ngā tari kāwanatanga katoa kia hou, kia kakama, kia koi, kia urutau, kia tutuki ai hoki ā tātau putanga

What a modern, agile and adaptive public service needs to do to achieve our outcomes (Chapter 8 of 13)

The public service can speed up many of its activities — service delivery, compliance, policy development and operational improvement — by modernising the way we work and expanding the skills to do so.

We can deal with complexity better when agencies open up and collaborate with each other across the public service. We can respond faster to the needs of New Zealanders using systems and design thinking, and newer ways of organising and planning — for example, human-centred design and an Agile delivery approach.

These approaches are already valued and practised by parts of the public service, but not consistently and they are difficult to do in our current system.

To better serve New Zealanders and future generations, the public service must move away from a prescriptive approach to one with much more flexibility. As with any innovation, there are risks involved but we must be bold and embrace the opportunities digital offers.

Risk and assurance

Digital technology is an important part of the public service and New Zealanders need to know their information is safe and that they can trust our services. The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) will provide this assurance by publishing formal government assurance frameworks, and by providing assurance oversight on high-risk digital investments and how agencies manage risk.

Human rights

It’s critical we ensure the human rights that apply offline continue to be recognised and protected in the digital environment. The Strategy’s work programme supports this by setting a framework for digital rights and ethics, making sure new technologies are adopted lawfully, safely, transparently, and with the continued support of the public.

Ngā whanonga ngātahi e tohu ana he hou, he koi, he urutau hoki ngā tari kāwanatanga katoa

The collective behaviours that will characterise a modern, agile and adaptive public service (Chapter 9 of 13)

We’ve identified 8 behaviours that will help enable our outcomes and transform the public service to be fit for the digital age.

Act as a unified public service

We’re building a modern, agile and adaptive public service capable of putting people first. To do this we need a system approach that’s enabled through system-wide thinking.

We’ll choose integrated services over individual agency services, and policy intervention that’s wider than 1 agency or sector. Working as a whole system will enable us to better solve complex social, environmental and economic issues.

Make people-centred decisions

People need to trust in, shape and influence the digital environment to create a human-centred experience that reflects what’s important to them.

We’ll focus on the services people need at different points in their lives and support decisions made on what people value most — as public servants, individuals, whānau and communities. That applies to how we design our services, and how we operate internally.

We’ll leave no room for assumptions about what people need, and we’ll measure our progress from a people-centred perspective.

Collaborate and co-create

We’ll co-create with partners from inside and outside government.

We recognise that by providing the right conditions and environment, services can be developed with communities for communities, taking an outside-in approach.

We’ll use new ways of working, like human-centred design thinking to help us genuinely collaborate and co-create with others, and follow through on delivering enduring value from that co-creation.

Digital transformation in accordance with tikanga Māori

The digital transformation of government will be culturally inclusive — particularly in reference to te ao Māori and tikanga concepts.

Act quickly and innovate

Experimentation, learning and rapid improvement are at the heart of our opportunity to modernise the public service. Being adaptive and innovative means being able to think big, start small and act fast.

Prioritise value for money

We’ll reduce waste in the public service by making choices that prioritise value for money over size of investment.

Investment and procurement guidance will be flexible and responsive. Planning and funding will be integrated at a system investment level and in real time.

Foster a learning environment

We’ll foster a learning environment and a commitment to developing our strengths.

We’ll encourage and support our people to continuously learn through secondments, collaboration opportunities, and cross-departmental teams. This should help us attract and retain talent.

Strive for an open, accountable public service

We’ll actively strive for a public service that’s open, responsive and accountable.

Open innovation, co-creation and real-time access to services and information contributes towards transparency and trust in government and enables public value to be generated.

We’ll make sure that clear frameworks and robust processes are in place to protect privacy, security and ethics.

Ō mātau aronga matua

Our priority focus areas (Chapter 10 of 13)

The 5 digital focus areas that will help us to achieve our vision. They build on previous foundations and will enable future transformation.

For each focus area we’ve summarised the current situation, what we’re looking to shift to, how we’ll achieve this and what great looks like for New Zealand.

Integrated services for people and business

Integrated services offer the opportunity to provide all New Zealanders with a better experience of government — supporting the needs of people and businesses, rather than the needs of government.

Current situation

Currently when someone is required to deal with government, their need is often greater than can be met by a single agency. They may require services from multiple government (and sometimes non-government) organisations, and this can be difficult, especially for vulnerable people or people with accessibility needs.

It can be inefficient when people are asked to provide personal details again and again, and limiting when the service is not available through a person’s preferred technology or device. This also minimises the opportunity for automation.

What we’ll look to shift to

We see a future where New Zealanders won’t need to know how government is organised to receive services, comply with their obligations, or find information.

Integrated or automated services will make it easy for people to interact with government by providing a single place for people to address a particular need — for example, parenting a pre-schooler, transitioning from youth to adulthood, or becoming a senior.

How we’ll do this

Services for citizens and businesses

Agencies and third parties will collaborate, co-create, design and deliver more diverse integrated services that are centred around people’s needs.

This means:

  • accelerating the design and delivery of life event and customer journey products
  • establishing (system) conditions that will advance digital inclusion efforts for those who are digitally disadvantaged
  • leveraging foundations to enable open innovation and access to government capabilities for others.

We’ll design and deliver all-of-government frameworks, standards and tools to support consistent, integrated and transparent services for businesses — for example, the NZ Government Web Standards, and the Design System.

What great looks like for New Zealand

The public service chooses to build integrated services rather than siloed services. We set out to design services with the capability to integrate. We work together across agencies and with our partners to join up services for New Zealanders.

We include and enable people to engage in our decision-making processes. New Zealanders feel the government is supportive of them, that it’s doing a great job for the country, and they feel listened to.

Business owners can use their government-held information across all their obligations, such as Inland Revenue, ACC and the Department of Internal Affairs, reducing the time they spend on compliance.

Leadership, people, culture

Leadership is key in any transformation — strong leadership is needed to drive public sector collaboration and cultural change. We need leaders to adapt the traditional way they’ve been operating, to adopt flexible, facilitative and non-hierarchical ways of working.

Current situation

Currently we operate using leadership models that are predominantly top-down ways of working. The focus is on operationalisation rather than effective outcomes.

We understand there are gaps in talent and the skills needed for a modern, agile and adaptive public service. And we know the public service will benefit from sharing expertise and communities of practice for in-demand skills across professions in the public service.

What we’ll look to shift to

We see a future where we’ll have an effective digital capability model, where leaders have the appropriate skills and knowledge to appreciate the possibilities and limitations of technology, and lead public service agencies in the digital age.

There’ll be 1 leadership profile/model for the public sector that will enable digital transformation.

Public service leaders will develop an organisational culture and environment, and provide their people with the appropriate skills, capability and knowledge to effectively use new ways of working. For example, multidisciplinary teams will be empowered to make important decisions quickly, taking into account their customers’ different needs so they have a better experience.

How we’ll do this

We’ll support the State Services Commission in evolving public service leadership as part of the State Sector reforms and the move towards a unified public service.

We’ll co-create with Māori through education, development, engagement and recruitment practices.

  • Support the Digital Government Leadership Group (DGLG) partnership and its advisory functions that embrace and embed leadership and a new digital capability model that’s flexible and adaptive.
  • We aim to identify and grow talent at all levels that’s diverse, multi-disciplinary and delivers system results. For example, a leadership talent programme that strengthens leadership skills and digital capability in new ways of working.
Strengthen the Māori–Crown Relationship (mana to mana)

We’ll build, strengthen and embed an enduring and reciprocal relationship with iwi/Māori leaders to ensure the public service delivers with and for Māori.

This begins with supporting the establishment of a Futures Taumata, a concept that came from the Te Whata Kōrero hui between the Department of Internal Affairs, iwi and Māori thought leaders.

The Futures Taumata is described as a group of iwi/Māori leaders making decisions with a futures mindset and maintaining mana motuhake (independence).

The Government Chief Digital Officer with the DGLG will build a mana to mana relationship with the Futures Taumata leading to the co-creation of a mutually agreed work programme.

Digital capability and skills
  • Increase public sector capability by collaborating with the unified public service work on the workforce strategy.
  • Attract, recruit and retain people with the right behavioural, technical and cognitive skillsets and experience.
  • Provide training, education and guidance for existing public service leaders and workers to ensure they have the digital and data literacy skills and capabilities required to enable new ways of working.
  • Partner with the State Services Commission about how to best grow digital skills and capability across the public service.
  • Partner with the Ministry of Education to identify the digital skill requirements for future generations.

What great looks like for New Zealand

The leadership model is different — flexible and non-hierarchical — and happening at different levels, not just at the chief executive level.

There’s greater autonomy for public servants and more devolved decision making.

Māori are well represented in leadership and decision-making roles in the public service.

The public service is the employer of choice for socially-minded people. Their desire to do good and help people is supported by the way they’re led.

Public servants are well equipped to deal with the problems facing New Zealand now and into future.

Digital skills are not concentrated in agency IT departments alone.

Government continues to proactively address future ways of working, strengthening and developing partnerships with professional bodies, academia and employees to ensure smooth transition of skills together.

Effective digital leaders:

  • are adaptive in charting a course through a dynamic environment where they cannot predict the outcomes
  • value collaboration, partnerships, and leadership at all levels and have high levels of cultural intelligence
  • enable environments that lead to openness, partnership and cross-agency collaboration
  • role model and encourage behaviours that demonstrate openness, partnership and cross-agency collaboration
  • value and empower knowledge leaders by devolving some decision rights and accountability to them
  • lead through facilitation — distributing responsibility, working with diversity, and learning through experimentation. This style of leadership is able to lead through uncertainty and empower a workforce to perform
  • encourage flexibility, and trust teams and talent
  • can work with diverse views, focus more on action than lengthy up-front planning, and enable flexible, multi-disciplinary teams to develop evidence-informed solutions.


Integrated services are enabled through digital foundations that can be used across the public service, making it possible to reuse data, rules and transactions, as well as government-wide standards and frameworks.

Current situation

Currently we create our data, transactions and rules so only the individual agency can use them. The public service doesn’t have common ways of operating, and like any operating system, it only works well if a system has common capabilities and settings.

Other foundations that could better support New Zealanders in dealing with government, such as digital identity and informed consent tracking, are patchy or not present.

What we’ll look to shift to

We see a future where agencies prioritise the creation of open APIs and components, standards, and datasets in the public service to allow agencies, businesses, NGOs and others to reuse data, transactions and rules. This will enable us to deliver better services to the public, more safely, efficiently and accountably.

We’ll have digital and data systems that enable collaborative work between government agencies and partners — for example, iwi/hapū, local authorities and the private sector.

We’ll publish our data transactions and rules so agencies and others can use them to innovate faster. This will enable both opportunity for innovation and appropriate service experiences for diverse communities.

How we’ll do this

Digital architecture for government
  • Co-create a digital architecture future state for government.
  • Commit to the unwinding of legacy systems in order to make the data rules and transactions that they implement able to be reused.
  • Choose to make new systems that have reusable data, transactions and rules.
Digital identity
  • Establish a coherent digital identity ecosystem for people and organisations, that allows timely and accurate exchange of information while respecting customer choice, convenience, control and privacy.
Government interoperability
  • Accelerate the exposure of government data, transactions and business rules.
  • Support and prioritise the development of key government APIs.
  • Lead the assessment of establishing a modern API marketplace to help people use APIs and to manage and monitor the government API ecosystem.
Assurance, privacy and cybersecurity practices
  • Define and embed assurance, privacy and cybersecurity practices within agencies.
  • Leverage modern identity capabilities to give people greater control of their information — for example, allow people to consent to share personal information with other agencies and service providers.
  • Co-create a systematic approach for the consideration of ethics in the application of new technologies and development of services.
Preserve policy and legislation intention
  • Develop principles and guidance that support the Open Government Partnership and builds on system work on privacy, ethics, security and trust.
  • Adopt digital practices and tools for policy development, particularly investment in machine-consumable legislation.
  • Coordinate, prioritise and commission the development of policy for digital issues.

What great looks like for New Zealand

Digital services are provided in a variety of ways (using different interfaces) for a variety of needs, including experiences that are specifically for disabled people.

Iwi, NGOs and businesses, subject to the right ethics, would be able to use the trust they have with their people to smooth access to their government entitlements.

We’d see the government leading work in ethics and open digital infrastructure, creating better rules of government — policy, legislation, and business rules — that can be easily implemented, and help to boost the digital capability of Māori as part of the Māori–Crown relationship.

An example of this may be providing a single place for people to view, update and to consent sharing their data held by government so that when people complete a form in 1 agency, their data can be accessed at another agency. So when someone applies to government for a benefit, they don’t need to re-enter their personal data if they apply for a state housing rental.


Investment in digital, data and ICT take an all-of-government view to ensure future investment is targeted, efficient and creates public value.

Current situation

Currently investment decisions are largely made with a single agency focus. This means the all-of-government strategic view is often missing. This has led to unfavourable outcomes such as duplications in investment decisions, continued investment in legacy systems and investment in bespoke ICT systems that aren’t always fit for purpose.

Investment decisions relating to digital, data and ICT generally tend to focus on economic considerations, such as value for money. However, the issues around privacy, security, digital rights and ethics stemming from the adoption of emerging technologies means there is now an increasing need to consider wider digital risks when making investment decisions.

What we’ll look to shift to

Building digital public services that are designed around people with improved access and transparency. To do this we will be nudging and catalysing behaviour change in the system to create more joined up services that focus on the complex needs of people and the environment as opposed to individual agency objectives.

Investing in public sector back-office systems that are more efficient and effective resulting in productivity gains for the public sector and its customers.

Investment decisions that focus on value for money, efficiency through coordination and collaboration; alongside considerations of wider environmental, social and governance impact.

How we’ll do this

To help government manage digital investments at a system level we want to:

  • facilitate greater knowledge sharing, collaboration and co-creation throughout the public sector
  • work with and through agencies to apply the current public finance rules better in order to create investment proposals that focus on system benefits
  • work with Treasury to continuously improve the management of public resources in the digital, data and ICT space
  • broaden the digital, data and ICT investment lens to consider social and environmental issues, in line with Treasury’s Living Standards Framework.
Investment for ICT and digital
  • Integrate investment principles into the 2020 Budget process to make sure investment in digital and data systems is prioritised and coordinated to enable system-wide benefits as well as experimentation and iteration.
  • Explore whether continuous planning and funding would support the government better in a digital age versus annual planning and funding cycles.
Digital procurement and AoG capability
  • Set up a platform for digital procurement to connect vendors and consuming agencies to ensure government gets good value for its investment in digital and data systems.
Risk management for digital
  • Drive a more practical and effective approach to risk management for digital capabilities — for example investment, rapid development, experimentation, procurement and informative security.

What great looks like for New Zealand

Public service practices and behaviours ensure investments are made that optimise solutions and value for money and don’t represent a barrier to using the best and most appropriate methods to solve the problems at hand.

There’s less wasted time and money before the public service can respond to what it’s sensing and to what New Zealanders are telling us.

The Māori–Crown partnership is a living, breathing presence in the way that the public service decides what to work on, especially when it comes to digital services.

New ways of working

Digital transformation isn’t just about putting new technology in place, it’s about new ways of working. This means the public service working together, across agencies, being flexible and mobile, and using appropriate practices to deliver better services for all New Zealanders.

Current situation

Currently we typically work within the operational boundaries of our agencies rather than across the public service. The ways agencies currently operate, including the use of different digital systems, prevent effective cross-agency collaboration, and this makes sustained innovation difficult. We often standardise and train our people in older ways of working, like Waterfall project management.

What we’ll look to shift to

A public service that collaborates across agencies under a unified public service to deliver our outcomes. We may need to do this quickly when government needs to respond rapidly to significant events like natural disasters.

The public service will have the appropriate tools, practices and approaches to make it easier for agencies to work together more efficiently. We’ll have compatible digital systems, interoperable data systems, and multidisciplinary teams with the skillsets, mindsets and knowledge of new ways of working.

We’ll use human-centred service design, Agile project management methodology, systems thinking, futures thinking, iterative development and other methods as we grow and change.

Accessibility Standards will guarantee all New Zealanders can access government services.

How we’ll do this

Mobile workforce
  • Identify and address barriers to cross-agency mobility including approaches to workplace technology that enable the movement of people and collaboration across agencies.
  • Identify and legitimise new ways of working, arrange appropriate opportunities for our people to learn about and practise these, and remove barriers to their use.
Digital standards and practices
  • Help agencies to follow the same standards and frameworks — for example, the NZ Government Web Standards, and the Design System.
  • Agree and implement processes for common business processes such as finance, HR and payroll functions to reduce unnecessary difference when operating across different agencies.
Digital innovation capacity
  • Grow capacity for innovation and innovation funding within the public sector.

What great looks like for New Zealand

We have an empowered workforce that’s better able to apply new agile ways of working — one that is more sophisticated, less process orientated.

Experimentation, working in multi-disciplinary, multi-generational and multi-stakeholder environments is the normal way of operating.

Teams form and disband around outcomes and projects rather than sit within their agency silos. Mindsets and skills are more agile.

Partnerships are commonplace across government and industry to develop capability, transfer skills and help build high-performance teams. This could mean:

  • micro-secondments are part of broader exchanges with other agencies, including leadership
  • people rotate into/out of businesses, including the technology sector
  • permeability across sectors including with the private sector and iwi
  • consistent values across government — fairness and good decisions.

He hīkoi ngātahi

It’s a collective journey (Chapter 11 of 13)

Working together to shift to a modern digital public service.

The Strategy is part of the wider context of public service reforms and workstreams. While functional leadership plays an important role in signalling and embedding the necessary system changes, our ongoing digital success will be a collective effort.

The Strategy focuses on tangible actions to ensure digital technologies and ways of working are embedded in the wider public service reforms.

This will position the public service to make the change needed to better seize opportunities from new technologies and to address complex challenges in the future.

The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO)

The GCDO is the state sector’s digital functional lead. As part of the GCDO’s role to set the direction of digital practice in the public service, it will lead the changes in this strategy.

The GCDO will continue to work with central agencies to align the Strategy’s goals with the unified public service direction. It will coordinate with other key workstreams, such as the Data Strategy and Roadmap, through the Digital Government Leadership Group (DGLG) and cross-agency engagement.

Aligning with public sector reforms

Effectively using digital technologies is a key part of the unified public service reforms, a series of reforms led by the State Services Commissioner to enable government to work together to deliver better outcomes and services for New Zealanders.

In particular, the GCDO will plan work with the functional leads for other parts of the unified public service reforms, including:

  • the Government Chief Data Steward (GCDS) — data
  • the Government Chief Information Security Officer (GCISO) — information security
  • Te Arawhiti — the Māori Crown Relations Agency.

The Strategy for a Digital Public Service complements the Data Strategy and Roadmap commissioned by the GCDS and the work involved in Wai 262: Te Pae TawhitiTe Puni Kōkiri — Ministry of Māori Development.

The Data Strategy provides a shared direction for making more effective use of New Zealand’s data. The Data Strategy and Roadmap and the Strategy for a Digital Public Service are closely aligned and critical to supporting each other’s outcomes.

The unified public service reform workstreams

The Strategy for a Digital Public Service is part of the data and digital workstream of the unified public service, one of 7 being led by the DGLG.

The 7 workstreams:

  • Data and Digital — agile, innovative and accessible
  • Public Finance System — flexible and wellbeing focused
  • System Design — joined-up citizen-centric and adaptive
  • People and Capability — motivated and effective
  • Spirit of Service — values-driven
  • Papa Pounamu — diverse and inclusive
  • Te Ao Tūmatanui — strengthening the Māori–Crown relationship.

Te rārangi hōtaka mahi: te whakatere i ngā panonitanga

Programme of work: navigating change (Chapter 12 of 13)

The work underway to achieve our vision of a unified modern, agile and adaptive digital public service.

The Strategy’s outcomes will be achieved through a work programme with 5 digital focus areas and corresponding actions that the Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) will lead, deliver or provide support for over the next 12 months.

Programme of work

Parts of the work programme are indicative at this stage, and others will continue after the initial 12-month period.

Knowing we’re on track

Relevant measurements will be co-designed and developed around the Strategy to track system and programme progress.

Each potential measure will be carefully considered from a variety of perspectives, including tikanga (Māori customary practices or behaviours), privacy, ethics, governance, data quality, feasibility and overall outcomes.

We’ll revise the programme of work annually to take into account changing circumstances and technologies, and check which actions are helping to achieve a digitally enabled public service and those that aren’t. Any resulting changes to the Strategy will be published in this digital version.

Ngā mātai take: te āhua o te pai o nāianei

Case studies: what good looks like now (Chapter 13 of 13)

We’re starting from a strong base — there’s good work already underway. The following case studies are examples of successful digital work that’s happening now.

Inland Revenue’s (IR) payday filing

Filing payroll information is an obligation that over 200,000+ New Zealand employers are required to provide every payday so IR can calculate tax and entitlements. Previously, employers provided this information once a month.

To make it easier for employers, IR has designed systems and processes, including the ability for businesses to file payroll information directly from third party software (for example, Xero and MYOB).

Payday filing will, over time, better integrate the tax system into businesses’ processes, saving them time by helping to ensure that tax is a by-product of their normal operations. As a business’s filing obligations are now naturally better timed and integrated with the day that employees are actually paid, this gives businesses the opportunity to integrate their PAYE reporting obligations with their business’s payroll tasks.

Additionally, IR can more accurately calculate customers’ tax and entitlements through receiving more timely and accurate information. This gives New Zealanders more certainty about what support they’re entitled to and what their payment obligations are. It’s especially beneficial for employees who have multiple jobs, fluctuating jobs, or who change jobs during the tax year.

Police OnDuty Family Harm Investigation app

The New Zealand Police OnDuty Family Harm Investigation app is saving frontline staff around 1.5 million pages of paperwork — or 500,000 hours — each year. The app makes a wider range of information available to police officers responding to episodes of family harm and makes their reporting and investigations of family harm more efficient, resulting in better outcomes for New Zealanders.

The app, which is connected to the national intelligence database, “enables an ‘eyes wide open’ approach by giving frontline staff instant access to background information, context and any history of family harm. This means staff can get right to the heart of continuing to help those in need, without needing to spend time on recording information,” says Acting Superintendent Bronwyn Marshall, Safer Whānau Business Lead.

The information gathered at the scene helps generate a frontline safety plan for victims and children. Information is also shared securely with partner agencies and NGOs involved in providing longer-term services for victims and offenders.

“The end result is that we have more police out and about, they’re more visible and spending less time at the station,” says Chief Information Officer Superintendent Rob Cochrane. 

Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE): Business Connect

Business Connect is a digital platform that aims to make it easier and more seamless for businesses to deal with government. It offers services based on the events that all businesses experience, such as applying for and renewing their government licences, permits, registrations and certifications.

“We’re aiming to remove complexity, including the need for businesses to repeatedly provide the same documentation to different agencies by storing it for them securely online. We want to see Business Connect grow to offer a broad range of services that make dealing with government quicker and easier for New Zealand’s businesses,” says Lisa Casagranda, MBIE’s Director Better for Business.

Business Connect is powered by the New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) which means from the moment businesses register with Business Connect using their NZBN, their profile will already be close to completed.

New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

NZBN was introduced in 2016. It can be used to identify any New Zealand business including a company, partnership, sole trader or other trading organisation. MBIE provides a website and APIs that supply trusted business data for each organisation, such as its name, contact details and (optionally) industry classification and GST number.

MBIE has long supported APIs to manage things like company records, intellectual property and security interests in personal property. Through APIs, commercial organisations can build MBIE’s trusted information and compliance transactions directly into their automated processes — reducing risk and delay.

The NZBN APIs extend this pool of trusted business data. The NZBN allows the New Zealand economy to adopt game-changing automation such as universal electronic invoicing. It also underpins new services such as Business Connect, which aims to reduce business costs by simplifying and reusing information that businesses must submit to seek permits and permissions in order to comply with different agencies’ regulatory requirements.

Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) WhenuaViz upgraded website

TPK and Manaaki Whenua launched the improved Whenua Māori Visualisation Tool, WhenuaViz, in May 2019. The website makes it easier for whānau to generate customised land summary reports and find valuable information about soil properties, climate data and potential land uses. WhenuaViz gives Māori land owners access to the best support and knowledge available about their whenua so they can make informed decisions.

“Knowledge is power and the WhenuaViz website holds some valuable information for Māori land owners who want to sustainably use their land,” says General Manager Māori Partnerships, Holden Hohaia of Manaaki Whenua.

The improved WhenuaViz website marks an important milestone in the rollout of the new cross-government Whenua Māori Programme which is being co-led by TPK and the Ministry of Justice. The upgrade of the WhenuaViz website in partnership with Manaaki Whenua — Landcare Research also marks an important first step in paving the way for future collaboration.