Working in an Interagency Environment-The structural reality of the whole-of-government narrative: Re-constructing inter-agency collaboration The State Services Commissioner has stressed th
at to achieve results agencies need to work horizontally across the system that requires public sector managers to “lead without authority.” In the author’s experience as a mid-level official, it is rare for public servants not to willingly engage with their peers for better outcomes. Yet despite this shared sense of camaraderie, many colleagues would nod sagely and agree, whilst not impossible, it is difficult to deliver commensurate results within New Zealand’s public sector structure. This paper draws from research centred on the National Maritime Coordination Centre, a multi-agency initiative that contributes to New Zealand’s collective maritime security interests. Specifically, the research illustrates how inter-agency governance fails to provide collaborative autonomy for actors within their respective organisations and the wider institution of New Zealand’s public sector. Its findings discuss how the 2013 reform of the Public Finance Act and the State Sector Act offer a pathway for addressing the structural organisational constraints that challenge collaborative autonomy.
Accordingly, this paper seeks to encourage dialogue among collaborative actors about reconstituting the language of multi-agency governance that not only embraces the desire
to seek better outcomes, but also acknowledges the structural practicalities required for officials’ collaborative autonomy; more specifically, officials in the engine room of interagency practice.