The existing head of the Ministry of Economic Development, David Smol, has been named interim chief executive of New Zealand’s merged super-ministry to be known as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The merger brings together most of the elements of the departments of Building and Housing and Labour, the 14 month-old Ministry of Science and Innovation, and the MED in a bid by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to make policy-making on economic development more efficient and coherent.
Smol was the most likely choice for the job among the CEOs available, since the Department of Labour has been looking for a new head anyway, and the head of the Department of Building and Housing chief Katrina Bach has just been censured on an employment relations matter.
Joyce would not be drawn when asked by BusinessDesk earlier this week whether Smol, a highly respected operator, had expressed an interest in the permanent role, which is being advertised but is not expected to be filled “for some months” after MBIE is created on July 1.
However, Joyce said it shouldn’t be assumed the interim chief executive wouldn’t continue in the role permanently as the new Ministry finds its feet over what is expected to be an incremental restructuring taking as long as two years.
The State Services Commission estimates the changes will save between $7 million and $11 million annually, once in place, of which between $2 million and $5 million will be in increased policy-making capacity.
Joyce justified those relatively small numbers saying the reforms were intended to reduce what he called “churn” in the public service, which often meant it took some months to get the first meeting under way when multiple government agencies were involved.