Crown entities are central-government organisations defined by the Crown Entities Act 2004, mostly created by specific acts of Parliament and with their own governing bodies. Crown entities are responsible for a wide range of public services and regulatory functions. They include school boards, tertiary education institutions, and many other public bodies.
In 2002 a branch manager of the State Services Commission, Derek Gill, attempted to describe the diversity of Crown entities: ‘There is tremendous variation in what they do – everything from quasi-judicial functions to commercial functions; in their legal form – companies, trusts, corporations sole, statutory corporations, other statutory bodies; in their scope and size – anything from Auckland hospital, which has 5,000+ employees – through to entities with no employees (for example the Road Safety Trust); and in their relationship with the responsible minister – this varies from total independence to a reasonably close degree of control.’1
They are by far the most numerous type of government organisation. In 2010 there were 2,606 Crown entities, 41 government departments, 19 state-owned enterprises and two special bodies (the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand) reporting through ministers to Parliament, together with three officers directly responsible to Parliament.
How much do they spend?
The total spending of Crown entities in 2009/10 was $32 billion. Crown entities hold nearly 40% of the Crown’s assets on their balance sheets. Over 200,000 staff work in them – about two-thirds of all state-sector employees. Schools and hospitals account for the most staff.
Once were quangos
From the 1970s, what are now referred to as Crown entities were often called quangos (quasi-non-governmental organisations). The ‘non-government’ reference merely means they were not part of the public service (government departments and ministries).
Sources of income
Crown entities are funded from a variety of sources. In 2009/10, 70% of their total income came from general government revenues. Some have significant other sources of income. For example the Accident Compensation Corporation is part-funded by levies on employers and workers, and the Earthquake Commission’s main source of income is levies on house insurance.