NZ Policy Skills Framework

… a resource in the Competencies database

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A common description of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of the modern policy professional

In 2014 the Government of New Zealand established The Policy Project “to improve the quality of policy advice across government.” In May 2019 it published Policy Skills Framework – Development, insights and application (reference below, pdf on right) describing it as follows:

“The Policy Skills Framework (PSF) is a common description of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of the modern policy professional. Rather than focusing on competencies, the framework outlines the mix of skills policy practitioners need. It allows for varying levels of experience in each component (from developing to expert/leading) acknowledging that individuals have different strengths (skills breadth and depth).”

The Policy Project website also provides a suite of methods for several of these components – see NZ Policy Methods Toolbox.

The framework is depicted graphically as:


The framework’s components are defined as follows:

Knowledge (“what I know”)

  • Domain Knowledge of Policy Making in your Policy Areas – Subject matter expertise
  • Government Systems and Processes – Cabinet and Parliamentary processes and other  requirements  relevant to policy making
  • Political Context and Priorities – Government priorities and relevant political context

Applied Skills (“what I can do”),

  • Evidence, Insights, and Evaluation – Gather and generate evidence to support analysis
  • Design for Implementation – Design policy proposals to include workable delivery & implementation options
  • Plan and Manage Work – Ensure advice is delivered using the right mix of resources & right touch project management method
  • Advise and Influence – Deliver advice that is robust, free and frank, and compelling
  • Strategic Thinking – Incorporate  longer-term and broad system perspectives to shape policy trajectories
  • Feedback and Coaching – Constructive challenge and feedback to develop the capability of individuals and teams
  • Communication – Deliver clear and compelling messages fit for purpose and audience
  • Engagement and Collaboration – Engage stakeholders and build relationship capital to understand diverse expectations, co-create solutions and support implementation

Behaviour (“how I am/act”)

  • Improvement and Innovation – Seek ways to ‘do things better’ and ‘do better things’
  • Agility – Responsive to change and resilient to uncertainty and setbacks
  • Political Savvy – Navigate issues, relationships and situations with sensitivity to the political  context
Comparing the NZ policy skills framework to the UK’s framework for professional development

The NZ description of the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of the modern policy professional covers approximately the same territory as the UK’s “Framework for professional development” (see UK Policy Profession Standards 2019) but uses somewhat differently specified components and does not break these down into sub-components. For example, the UK framework’s analogue to the NZ framework’s “Communication” is “Advising, Briefing and Drafting” and it has 8 sub-components.

Other frameworks developed by The Policy Project

The Policy Skills Framework is one of three policy improvement frameworks produced by The Policy Project. These are described on the Project’s website ( as follows:

“All three frameworks were co-designed for and by the policy community and have been endorsed for use by the Head of Policy Profession and the Tier 2 Policy Leaders Network.

Policy capability framework

You can use the policy capability framework to test your agency’s policy capability.

The framework describes the key components of capability and offers ‘lines of inquiry’ and potential indicators to review and build overall organisational capability to produce quality policy advice.

Policy skills framework

The policy skills framework sets out the knowledge, applied skills and behaviour required of policy professionals – from new professionals developing their policy craft to seasoned experts at the top of their game.

Policy quality framework

The policy quality framework describes the key characteristics of quality policy advice, as well as the ‘enablers’ of great advice, like considering multiple perspectives, good commissioning, quality assurance processes and work planning.”


The Policy Project website:

Policy Skills Framework Development, insights and application –

Policy Quality Framework – A framework and tools for assessing and assuring the quality of policy outputs – development, insights and guidance,

Development Pathways Tool – Master document,

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 May 2019.

Images: Policy Skills Framework Development, insights and application –, and, accessed 24 May 2019.