At position 5, New Zealand continues to demonstrate above-average management performance.
The government has improved its steering capability by declaring contracts between ministers and chief executives mandatory, seeking more expert advice, and streamlining the RIA process.
Policies continue to be implemented effectively, even though minority coalitions persist.
The leadership has proven adaptable to new situations both domestically and internationally. But radical reforms are difficult to achieve due to the minority status of government.
Accountability toward committees, citizens and civil society is high. The oversight functions of parliament and the media are also relatively strong.
Gaining several places to fall at rank 3, New Zealand is near the OECD’s top in terms of effective steering capability.
New public management techniques require contracts to be negotiated between ministers and departmental chief executives. The importance of scholarly advice has increased.
The prime minister’s 14-member policy advisory group focuses on important bills, necessitating substantial interagency coordination on other issues.
In late 2009, the new National government ordered that detailed RIAs must be performed for any policy activity that may lead to draft legislation.
Consultation with interest groups and citizens is traditionally robust. Coherent communication has been somewhat difficult in recent minority coalition governments.
At rank 3, New Zealand’s policy implementation capacity remains among the OECD’s best, despite slight declines relative to the SGI 2009.
Minority coalition governments have been relatively successful in implementing their agenda. The National Party-led coalition started its term with a “100-day action plan,” which was implemented on time.
New Zealand has a strong tradition of collective cabinet responsibility. All contracts between the cabinet and line ministries and ministers and departmental chief executives must be grounded in broader government policy.
New Zealand is a highly centralized country. Local governments raise only about 5% of total tax revenues. However, local autonomy in setting tax rates and bases is greater than in any other OECD country.
At rank 4, New Zealand continues to hold a position near the OECD’s top in terms of institutional learning.
In previous years, the country has drastically restructured the public sector and reformed policy-making. Today’s multiparty system and minority coalition governments make radical reform much more difficult to achieve.
Despite its isolated geopolitical position, the country participates proactively in many international organizations, as well as in the international coordination of policies concerning the Antarctic Region, disarmament and proliferation, environmental protection, and human rights.
Following the change to a mixed-member proportional representation system in the 1990s, institutional arrangements have been regularly and effectively monitored.
At rank 7, executive accountability in New Zealand is comparatively high by OECD standards.
According to opinion polls, 69% of citizens feel they have a good or very good understanding of political issues. However, interest in politics has declined.
Select committees have the right to request government documents, and can summon ministers or experts.
Not all media organizations produce high-quality information, but TV One and Radio New Zealand provide excellent analysis of government decisions.
The two major parties, Labor and National, regularly produce detailed election programs with coherent policy proposals. There are few well-organized and well-staffed interest groups, but societal consultation has a long tradition.