Commissioner's comment on the release of the Performance Improvement Framework reviews and Action Plans
Media release, State Services Commission, 22 September 2010.
In March this year I talked about the work that central agencies are doing in the area of measuring and improving agency performance across the State sector.
The Performance Improvement Framework establishes a common language and understanding of what good performance looks like. It focuses on ensuring agencies are clear about where they need to improve, what they have to do to achieve results, and how they will measure their progress against their action plan.
Today's publication of the first round of Performance Improvement Framework reviews and agency actions plans provides us with an important opportunity to start a wider discussion on how we are progressing, and what we expect to achieve longer term.
I expect that by publishing these reviews and action plans the public, Ministers and State Services agencies are provided with a more transparent, systematic view of agency performance, and more importantly, how agencies are responding to the findings of the reviews in their action plans.
The Performance Improvement Framework is based on leading international performance improvement methodologies that have been adapted for the New Zealand State Services. Last year the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF?) volunteered to pilot the framework to test its effectiveness in the New Zealand context.
Since the pilot, four agencies have taken part in the first round of formal reviews; Te Puni Kokiri (TPK), Department of Conservation (DOC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
We have adopted the same rating system as used by the UK Civil Service model and this has enabled us to clearly identify the range of areas that require improvement within and across agencies. While the first round of reviews have shown that all organisations have areas where they need to improve in some way, areas of strength and solid performance have also been identified.
Agencies are operating in the context of prolonged fiscal restraint and rising public and government expectations. This puts increased pressure on agencies to sharpen their focus on delivering core business programmes and prioritising initiatives that deliver maximum benefit for New Zealanders. The common challenges facing agencies are around aligning their strategic direction with the organisation's core business, building stronger business processes and developing management and leadership capability that ensures a continuous cycle of measurable performance improvement.
The reviews of the four agencies found that:
- Operationally, TPK is a well run agency with strong senior leadership. However, it will face many challenges in the near future including its leadership role on the Whanau Ora programme. The risk is that resources will be spread too thinly and tasks will crowd out vision. In response to these challenges, the department will need to prioritise its work programmes, and focus on building the business capability to deliver on them.
- DOC is a strong and well-managed operational department, but the department needs to develop its strategic leadership, stakeholder management and policy capability to ensure it is positioned to deliver on government's priorities and expectations.
- MFAT is a strongly performing and capable organisation, but faces new risks and opportunities in an increasingly diverse offshore market. As a result, the department needs to work better with its stakeholders to develop strategies and prioritise efforts, to strengthen its management capability and improve its business support systems and processes.
- LINZ is a responsive, technically competent and focused department. The challenge for LINZ will be to maintain its current performance as it faces an increasing demand for its services. The development and implementation of its Geospatial Strategy will likely impact the scope and nature of its core business in the future.
Chief executives have commented on the usefulness of the review process in providing a common framework and understanding of direction they need to be taking, and the areas they need to focus on. They have also welcomed the independent insights and constructive commentary on where and how their agencies can lift their performance.
Agencies are now using the reviews and action plans to work on priorities that will drive improved performance. Along with the other central agencies, we will be monitoring progress in implementing agency action plans, offering advice, assistance and support as necessary.
Lifting State sector performance is a collective challenge and we need to make maximum use of all the levers, talent and information available to us to really drive the changes we need, at a faster pace. I am confident that the Performance Improvement Framework will play a key role in ensuring this happens.
However, I do want to stress that on a range of different measures the state sector performs well. The New Zealand public sector continues to be rated by Transparency International as one of the least corrupt in the world, and the 2009 Kiwis Count survey that measures New Zealanders' satisfaction with their public services showed that overall, service quality is improving and New Zealanders' trust in their public services is also increasing.
The next steps will be to roll out the framework across a wider cross-section of departments and to build a more comprehensive picture of performance across the State Services. We will track our performance and benchmark our progress to ensure we have the capability and resources to deliver effective, efficient services to the public.
The full reports and agency action plans are published at:
Contact: Marian Mortensen, Communications, tel 04 495 6620.