Ministry of Primary Industry good start

February 9, 2011

A government has two main ways to influence the economy – by facilitating increased productivity and by reducing its own costs.

In his speech to parliament yesterday Prime Minister made a commitment to do both by improving efficiency and lowering the cost of the public service.

Front-line public services are the priority for this Government. We want to free up money for these services by reducing the costs of back-office and administrative functions.

We have already taken several steps to achieve that.

Since coming into office we have reduced the number of full-time equivalent staff positions in the core government administration by five per cent.

We began procurement reforms last year, and from the first four projects we expect to save around $115 million over the next five years.

We have also made progress in reducing the number of government agencies, for example; by bringing Archives New Zealand and the National Library into the Department of Internal Affairs; and by merging two science agencies to create the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Even so, the government bureaucracy is still a long way from being a lean and efficient organisation.

The Government machine still consists of more than 80 Crown Entities each with their own Board, 38 Departments, more than 70 portfolios and more than 60 separate Budget Votes. The costs of running this machinery are still too high.

Clearly, there is more to be done to make the government bureaucracy smaller and better.

Therefore, I have asked for advice on further reforms to streamline and improve the performance of the government bureaucracy.

Amalgamating ministries or departments with a similar focus is one easy way to reduce overheads without compromising services.

TV1 said the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Fisheries were likely to be turned into a single Ministry of Primary Production.

MAF used to stand for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

They have a lot in common. Bringing them back into a single super-ministry with forestry makes sense and will save money.

It would be a good start in the government’s programme to build better public services.

Which among the more than 80 Crown entities,  38 departments, more than 70 portfolios and more than 60 separate Budget votes offer similar potential for saving money and improving service?

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