THE DEPARTMENT’S ROLE
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet occupies a unique position at the centre of New Zealand’s system of democratic government. It exists to support the effective conduct of executive government by the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and members of the Cabinet. The department’s principal role is provision of advice, on a daily basis, to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the wide range of complex issues that confront the Government - particularly its policy priorities. Issues that governments are required to deal with are often complex or pressing, and require well-founded advice and judgement. DPMC also provides impartial advice, through the Clerk of the Executive Council and Government House, to the Governor-General. It plays a role in coordinating and leading the work of government departments and agencies, and other entities as appropriate, to ensure that decision-making takes account of all relevant viewpoints and that advice is as coherent and complete as possible. In addition, it supports the Cabinet decision-making process.
SUPPORTING THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET
The Prime Minister is the political leader of the government and the country - and its main public “face”. The Prime Minister is also the chair of the Cabinet, and is responsible for the effective operation of executive government. These roles combine political and executive responsibilities. DPMC provides assistance to the Prime Minister in three broad categories.
Issues that are the direct responsibility of the Prime Minister
The Cabinet Office provides free and frank advice and support on constitutional issues relating to the conduct of executive government - including during elections and transitions between administrations - and issues associated with the operation of the Cabinet system.
Issues that arise across the full range of government business
DPMC provides a continuous flow of advice to the Prime Minister on major and daily issues, along with oversight of wider government activity and access to information and assessments. DPMC works with central agencies to draw together departments in support of the Government’s priorities, to focus agencies on providing options for action, to ensure implementation of agreed programmes and policies, to drive for enhanced agency performance, and to deal effectively with issues which affect the nation. The Cabinet Office, which is within DPMC, provides the secretariat support for decision-making by the Cabinet and its committees.
Administrative support to the Prime Minister
This includes preparation of replies to Parliamentary questions, and dealing with Official Information Act requests and other correspondence. A totally separate body, the Office of the Prime Minister, also advises the Prime Minister: it is the primary point of responsibility for managing political issues and relationships with other political parties and for providing administrative and media support.
SUPPORTING THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
The office of the Governor-General is an important part of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy and the Governor-General serves as the representative of our head of state, The Queen of New Zealand. His constitutional, ceremonial and community roles together seek to maintain national unity and foster national identity. The Clerk of the Executive Council and Government House staff support the Governor-General in carrying out his functions.
BRINGING THE SYSTEM TOGETHER
DPMC strives to support a high standard of executive decision-making by providing quality advice that is timely, responds to the directions set by the Government, is forward-looking, is cognisant of changing circumstances and emerging issues, and gives assurance that policies are being delivered in an effective and coordinated manner. In addition we play a role in coordinating and leading the work of government departments and agencies – including the intelligence agencies – as well as other entities as appropriate, to ensure that decision-making takes account of all relevant viewpoints and that advice is as coherent and complete as possible.