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Cook Islands

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The Cook Islands comprises 15 small islands, spread over 2.2 million square kilometres, northeast of New Zealand and between American Samoa and French Polynesia. The resident population is about 12 000. Rarotonga, the capital, is the most populous island.

The Cook Islands Constitution provides the over arching framework for the use of public funds and the operation of the civil service.  The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Act and the Public Expenditure Review Committee Act outline the procedures for preparing and reporting on public accounts.  The Public Service Act establishes the Public Service Commission to generally oversee the recruitment and management of civil servants.

The Public Service Commission Act 1996 formalized civil service performance requirements and includes a management contract between the head of ministry and Minister.  This contract guides ministry operations, and provides checks and balances for the Public Service Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and the Audit Office.  However, as the Cabinet is responsible for the appointment of ministerial heads some continue to be appointed on political affiliation rather than merit.  Post-reform reports indicate the public service restructuring resulted in higher morale and increased job-satisfaction in many government agencies together with greater public demand for the public service to perform at higher levels.  Sustaining these gains will require further political reform to temper the level of political interference  with senior appointments and the management of the civil service.

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