20 March 2007

Justice system review

Recent bad news about the Corrections dept has prompted a review of the whole justice system by the government, and this will be worth watching, especially for 724 students. There is a good article on the topic by John Armstrong in the Herald too. The previous National Govt split Corrections, Courts and Justice as part of the general move to disaggregate large bureaucracies into single-purpose agencies, and to avoid 'provider capture' by separating policy advisors from service providers. Labour have chosen sometimes to re-integrate such departments, but only as needed, rather than undertake more 'radical reforms'. Hence, for example, the amalgamations that created the Ministry of Social Development. They also merged Courts and Ministry of Justice, and now it looks like Corrections could be amalgamated into Justice too. We'll wait and see.
In the bigger picture, such changes suggest more than just a political knee-jerk reaction to bad publicity. They suggest a gradual turn-around and re-thinking of NZ's whole approach to public management, reversing some (but by no means all) of the reforms of the 1980s and 90s.
In a later posting, I would like to expand on this theme, and ask whether we need now to reconceptualize public management, in a way that puts the term 'public' clearly back into the picture. Do we need now to develop new ideas about public institutions, public services and public spaces?


At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as private businesses are restucturing due to ongoing changes in the business environment, so should the public service be able to do. The current New Zealand Government has clearly learnt from changes in the past and is now attempting to address the necessary changes required for the present circumstances. This is a good management practice and should be recorded by academics and students so that the wider international audience can learn from New Zealand's experiences. This illutrates to me the dynamic and changing environment the public service is operating in New Zealand, but also around the world.

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Grant said...

That's a good comment, though I'm not sure if it's the job of the university community to be record-keepers of the government's 'good management practice'. We need to be more impartial than that.


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