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Recovering from a Tidal Wave: New Directions for Performance Management in New Zealand’s Public Sector

PFM, Vol. 4 No. 3, (2004)

In a tidal wave of reform during the late 1980s and 1990s New
Zealand comprehensively adopted the approach to public sector
performance management categorized as New Public Management
(NPM). Techniques drawn from business and the marketplace were
used to transform a centralized public service into an array of focused
providers of service and policy ‘outputs’. These reforms decentralized
decision-making and emphasized efficiency and cost containment.
Since the election in 1999 of a center-left coalition government, a new
tide of reform has been gathering momentum, and will be underpinned
by legislation before Parliament in 2004. Outcomes, collaboration and
capability are the new concerns, indicating a shift of system from a
laissez faire ‘financial control’ model to more centralized strategic

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