State Services Minister Chris Hipkins is confident a major reform of the public service into a single system will not see a return to the bloated and inefficient public service of decades ago.

Hipkins today launched a public consultation process ahead of what he called the most significant reform of the public service in 30 years and a major shift in the way it operates.

"The changes would see the public service operate as one, joined-up system to tackle the big, complex challenges facing New Zealand.

"Under the current model individual departments deliver services that they have sole accountability for. This doesn't work as well when agencies need to be working collectively where citizens often must deal with a number of different agencies on a single issue," Hipkins said in a statement.


Speaking to reporters later, Hipkins rejected the notion the changes would return the public service to an earlier model that earned it a reputation for being overstaffed and underperforming.

"No, absolutely not. If anything this actually is about getting more accountability. It's about getting better outcomes for New Zealanders. I think the old public service, one of the perceptions of it was that there wasn't the level of accountability there needed to be.

"New Zealanders expect, and New Zealand businesses expect, the public service to operate in a connected-up way rather than having to interact with multiple different government agencies on the same topic effectively. So that's what we're trying to achieve."

Proposed changes include:

• An executive board of chief executives that would mean chief executives are jointly responsible for achieving complex Government priorities

• Joint ventures between agencies to work on common issues

• One-stop shops that bring related services together at a single point

Consultation ends on October 12 with a bill likely to be introduced in the middle of next year.