Government must do its part to promote "free, frank and fearless" public service


All New Zealanders will benefit from guidance issued today to public servants - but only if the government accepts this may involve unpalatable truths, the PSA says.

The State Services Commission’s "Acting in the Spirit of Service: Free and Frank Advice and Policy Stewardship" offers guidance to public servants on exercising their duty to advise the government.

It outlines the importance of trust between ministers and public servants, and the crucial role the public service plays in looking ahead to future challenges.

"This guidance is extremely timely," PSA National Secretaries Erin Polaczuk and Glenn Barclay say.

"Earlier this week, research commissioned by IPANZ showed public servants believe their jobs became increasingly politicised under previous governments.

"These guidelines should be read alongside the recently-released code of conduct for ministerial advisers, and should help smooth the way for those working in the new government."

But Mr Barclay and Ms Polaczuk caution it’s not enough for public servants to do their part - the Labour-led government must be ready to accept advice it may not want to hear.

"Ministers must be ready to accept unpalatable truths - and create an environment where they are not surrounded by true believers," Ms Polaczuk and Mr Barclay say.

"The State Services Commission and the PSA have worked together on these guidelines - and we would like a clear statement of intent from Ministers that they accept them.

"New Zealanders rely on free, frank and fearless advice to get better public services, and that involves not only giving but accepting that advice."