Some state sector reform

Emily Watt and Colin Espiner report:

The Government is planning a shake-up of state services, with mergers expected in Internal Affairs, MAF and the science sector.

It is not clear how many jobs will be lost, but “back office” functions such as human resources, IT, payroll and communications are likely to be cut back to avoid duplication.

The Dominion Post has been told there will be three mergers, which are to be announced on Wednesday and will see departments, ministries and agencies folded into each other.

Sources say space has been booked at the Library to announce the formation of what they are calling a Ministry of Information, which would roll National Library and National Archives into the Internal Affairs Department. It is understood Land Information New Zealand and Statistics had also been considered in that merger.

Oh I would so love to be Minister of Information. That would just be the best title, next to Minister of Propaganda. Imagine the first class treatment you would get in all the despotic regimes around the world, when your business card declares you are the New Zealand Minister of Information.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry is also due for a shake-up with the Food Safety Authority, with an annual budget of $99.6m, expected to be brought back under its roof.

The science sector will also come under the scalpel, with the Foundation of Research, Science & Technology and Research, Science & Technology Ministry being merged.

I’m delighted to see even this minor reform as it heads in the right direction. We do not need 200+ CEOs, and 200+ IT systems, 200+ HR systems etc. In my ideal would you would have all agencies grouped within a dozen super-ministries.

Mr Robertson said it appeared Mr Key had broken his pre-election promise not to radically reorganise the public service.

Oh Grant. This is not radical. Three small mergers is a welcome but cautious step. It is such a shame to see Labour oppose every measure to reduce bureaucratic duplication and costs in the state sector. Their sole state sector policy seems to be to borrow and spend more money.

Labour should welcome these changes, as they continue a trend started under Labour to bring smaller agencies together. National went the other way in the 1990s and in hindsight got it wrong. Again it is a pity to see Labour oppose something they should support.

The Public Service Association has not been briefed on the plans, but said it was supportive of the Government “sticking things back together” after several decades of splitting departments up.

Indeed. On this one, I agree with the .

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