Government spending has grown from $80.6 billion a year in 2017 to $137 billion in 2023, a 70 per cent increase. But New Zealanders, including Labour voters, believe public services are now worse than they were a few years ago.
People are waiting longer in hospital emergency departments and 40 per cent of patients given a commitment to treat do not receive that treatment within the required timeframe. Children’s literacy, numeracy, and school attendance are all falling, with 40 per cent of 15-year-old students struggling to read and write. 2,878 fewer criminals are behind bars, but the number of victims is growing.
How can government get away with spending so much and delivering so little? ACT says we need to address two underlying problems:
- A lack of measurement and accountability for the quality of day-to-day government services.
- A lack of Ministerial power over, and incentives for, public service chief executives to make sure their departments perform and deliver.
ACT’s plan for efficient and effective public services proposes three changes:
- Specific outputs set for each government department, reported on annually
- Ministers to issue key performance indicators for chief executives, do performance reviews, and release them publicly
- Performance-based pay for chief executives
Government departments are no longer going to be able to get away with spending billions of dollars while failing to deliver meaningful outcomes for taxpayers. Any Government ACT is part of will demand higher standards and greater accountability from chief executives and departments for the money they spend.