The Cabinet Office provides neutral secretariat services to Cabinet, Cabinet committees, and the Executive Council. The Cabinet Office is also the business owner of the CabNet system.
The Cabinet Office is a separate unit headed by the Secretary of the Cabinet within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is located on the 10th floor of the Beehive.
The Secretary of the Cabinet is responsible directly to the Prime Minister for the impartial recording of Cabinet decisions, and the development and administration of Cabinet processes.
In providing secretariat services, the Cabinet Office:
- arranges Cabinet, Cabinet committee, and Executive Council meetings;
- manages, prepares, and publishes agendas in CabNet;
- checks that papers submitted for consideration at meetings conform to the requirements established by Cabinet;
- prepares for Ministers a summary of every Cabinet and Cabinet committee paper;
- briefs the chair of Cabinet and the chairs of Cabinet committees on procedural matters and upcoming agenda items;
- provides procedural advice, as required, to the Prime Minister, other Ministers and officials, and attends meetings to facilitate and record impartially the decisions taken;
- prepares and publishes in CabNet the minutes of meetings;
- monitors the reports requested by Cabinet and Cabinet committees to ensure that they are provided on time.
The Clerk of the Executive Council (who is also the Secretary of the Cabinet) is directly responsible to the Governor-General and to the Prime Minister for servicing the Executive Council and providing advice, as necessary, on constitutional matters.
The key functions of the Clerk of the Executive Council are:
- advising on matters affecting the role of the Governor-General;
- providing, coordinating and monitoring official support and advice to, and consultation with, the Governor-General;
- facilitating, on behalf of the Governor-General, the constitutional processes of government that involve the Governor-General (particularly those associated with the transition between administrations);
- attending every meeting of the Executive Council in order to witness its proceedings and keep its records;
- countersigning any proclamation, Order in Council or other instrument made or issued by the Governor-General alone or by the Governor-General in Council;
- being responsible for the New Zealand Royal Honours System;
- liaison with the Palace and the Sovereign.
For further information on the role of the Cabinet Office and the Secretary of the Cabinet (including the provision of advice on central government constitutional, ethical, procedural, policy and administrative issues, and support for the continuity of government), see paragraphs 5.77 to 5.81 of the Cabinet Manual.