In 2015 and 2016, Nehal Davison spent six weeks working in New Zealand’s Public Service through a secondment to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), and as an international visitor in the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Being embedded both in the centre of government and in a large delivery department gave her an insider’s perspective on what cross-government initiatives can achieve, as well as the inevitable challenges they face.

In this case study, Nehal takes stock of one of these initiatives – the Policy Project – the cross-agency team she was based in during her time at the DPMC. This short report tells the story of the Policy Project – how it began, its objectives and current state – drawing on the Institute for Government’s framework for assessing civil service-wide reforms.

The paper draws on the following:

  • review of relevant internal documentation
  • 10 interviews with senior officials in the New Zealand Public Service, including the Chief Executive of the DPMC (and Head of the Policy Profession), the Head of State Services, a number of Deputy Secretaries involved with the Policy Project and members of the Policy Project team
  • conversations with the core team to test findings and conclusions throughout the secondment.