Regulatory system governance

Supporting confident regulatory stewards at MBIE – one step ahead.

What is regulatory system governance?

“System governance is our leadership challenge for achieving systems that protect New Zealanders.”

Carolyn Tremain, CE MBIE

System governance is about the time we dedicate to working ‘on’ our systems, rather than ‘in’ them. Effective governance means that we are clear about what we expect from each system and that we manage its performance. Effective governance means ensuring that all the checks and balances are in place to support MBIE’s systems running smoothly, meeting their objectives, and delivering the outcomes sought by New Zealanders both today and tomorrow. Effective governance is both enabled by and supported by strong leadership, and this is our collective challenge here at MBIE.

Why MBIE focuses on regulatory system governance

“Governance across systems that I’m responsible for has been really useful. It has helped us identify where we have problems, brings focus to those problems, and helps us work together to ensure that the wrong kinds of things don’t happen.”

James Hartley, Consumer and Commercial System

Governance is a key lever to ensure regulatory systems are clear about what they set out to achieve, how they go about achieving it, and monitoring results. The right people at the governance table can bring all the parts of a system together to ensure that the system is learning and adapting, rather than taking a 'set and forget' approach. Good governance can help with response to critical issues (such as Covid 19 lockdowns), adaptation to changes in our uncertain environment, and ensuring delivery minimises compliance costs while maximising societal benefits.

Investing in governance can save time in the longer term as it can help ensure that underperformance is addressed early, rather than having to find resources to respond should something go wrong.

Taking the time to put in place and run good governance is an example of putting regulatory stewardship into practice.


“Good governance needs an openness to learn, share and be vulnerable – only then can you have a frank conversation about how the system is performing and what the gaps are.”

Shane Kinley, Employment Relations & Employment Standards System

To advance the discussion on regulatory system governance across agencies, MBIE published this guidance on regulatory system governance. System governance is all about working ‘on’ the system, rather than ‘in’ it, leading a system by looking ahead and working across. It raises the question of regulatory leadership and how to do this well.