The small reporting team for our “How good is our public sector?” series has more than three decades’ experience working in New Zealand’s public sector. We’re likely unique in New Zealand journalism in that respect.

We’re drawing heavily on our team’s contacts and knowledge as we research and interview.

We've found cases where we think public servants have become – or allowed themselves to be induced into becoming – overly politicised. We see examples of the nuts and bolts falling off the machinery of government.

We’ll report those cases, and we’ll try to find out whether they point to more general problems.

We’ll be looking at the changing roles and influence of the central agencies – the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury and the Public Service Commission.

We’ll ask about the quality of the policy advice ministers receive (apparently it’s possible to assess that more or less objectively; we’ll let you know).

We’ll explore the growing influence of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te ao Māori and mātauranga Māori on public policy, including whether public agencies are ready.

Our series delves into whether and how the public sector is held accountable. Today’s piece from auditor-general John Ryan is only the first on that topic.

But we know that as journalists our accountability burden is different than that of public servants. We trade stressful deadlines for some other advantages.

As journalists, we don’t have to get the full picture in every article, because we can come back to the topic tomorrow or next week.

We’re allowed to raise problems without having to propose solutions or be responsible for whether our bright ideas would work.

Unless we do something really reprehensible, we’re not going to be called before a select committee and television cameras to explain ourselves.

Working in the public service can be both difficult and rewarding. 

We'll have all of that in mind as we research and write this series.

Do you know something we should know? Email BusinessDesk's public sector investigation team: [email protected]