Iain Rennie

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Iain Rennie
State Services Commissioner
Assumed office
1 July 2008
Prime Minister Helen Clark, John Key
Preceded by Mark Prebble
Deputy Secretary to the Treasury
In office
Personal details
Born Wellington

Iain Robert Rennie (born 1964) was appointed as the State Services Commissioner of the New Zealand public service in 2008 succeeding Mark Prebble.[1][2] He was the Deputy State Services Commissioner from 2007 until June 2008. He was reappointed for a second term in in July 2013.


Rennie has a BA (Hons) in Economics from Victoria University of Wellington.[3] He joined the Treasury in 1986, and also worked for 1990-93 and 2004 in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Before he was appointed to the SSC, he helped provide strategic leadership at the Treasury - advising the Minister of Finance on microeconomic and macroeconomic policy issues.[4]

State Services Commissioner[edit]

In his role as Commissioner, Rennie has been involved in a number of initiatives to improve the performance of the public service including projects called Better Public Services, the Performance Improvement Framework.[5] The State Sector Amendment Act 2013 gave him greater responsibility for developing senior leadership and management capability, including appointments to key positions within the public service. He is also responsible for driving state sector reform in line with the Government's objectives and is in the process of changing the way leaders are developed within the public sector.[6]

Leadership challenges[edit]

Rennie's treatment of public service leaders has drawn considerable media attention. He has given the impression of being overly supportive of top executives and too willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. In 2011, former Building and Housing Department chief executive Katrina Bach was accused of verbally abusing and manhandling a junior staff member. Following an inquiry, Rennie concluded that her conduct was unacceptable, but allowed her to retain her position. The Dominion Post said this created a perception of "different sets of rules within the public service for staff depending on their rank or seniority".[7]

In April 2013 Rennie was forced to defend the process behind the hiring of the head of New Zealand's spy agency the Government Communications Security Bureau, [8] Ian Fletcher. Prime Minister John Key admitted he had told Fletcher - his childhood friend - to apply for the job, after which the SSC didn't interview anyone else for the position.[9] Rennie issued a statement denying suggestions that Fletcher's appointment did not follow proper processes. Then at a news conference on the matter, he advised reporters not to use Twitter until the conference was over - which upset media representatives and was reported immediately on Twitter.[10]

In November 2014, Rennie was criticised for his handling of the Commission's investigation into sexual allegations against CERA boss Roger Sutton. He allowed Sutton to speak at a press conference announcing his resignation - even though Sutton and the complainant were both bound by a confidentiality agreement.[11] It later emerged that Rennie ignored advice from senior officials to exclude Sutton from the press conference. Labour leader Andrew Little said Mr Rennie had shown a "woeful lack of judgment" and should resign.[12]

On 10 December, Mr Rennie apologised for his handling of the case while giving a speech about integrity in the public service. Paula Bennett, the Minister responsible for the SSC indicated that if he 'slipped up' again he would lose his job. [13] The next day it was announced that Rennie received a $50,000 increase in his annual salary taking it to $610,000.[14]


  1. ^ "Appointment of the State Services Commission" (1 May 2008) 79 New Zealand Gazette 2162.
  2. ^ Dominion Post 29 April 2008 page A2
  3. ^ State Services Commission website
  4. ^ Organisational structure and senior managers, State Services Commission website
  5. ^ Organisational structure and senior managers, State Services Commission website
  6. ^ Biographical details, The State of the State Sector, speech delivered 24 September 2013.
  7. ^ Editorial: Iain Rennie's judgment in doubt, Dominion Post 9 December 2014
  8. ^ "Rennie defends hiring top spy boss". 3 News NZ. April 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Key's faulty memory on GCSB an 'excuse'". 3 News NZ. April 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Spy job announcement a 'Twitter-free zone'". The Dominion Post. April 4, 2013. 
  11. ^ Pressure goes on State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, New Zealand Herald, 24 November 2014
  12. ^ Pressure goes on State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, New Zealand Herald, 24 November 2014
  13. ^ State Services Commission boss Iain Rennie warned: No repeat, New Zealand Herald, 11 December, 2014
  14. ^ Top public servants get cream of pay packet rises, New Zealand Herald, 12 December 2014

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mark Prebble
State Services Commissioner
1 July 2008–present
Succeeded by