Annual Report of the State Services Commission for the year ended 30 June 2011
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Annual Report of the State Services Commission for year ending 30 June 2011.
Published on 19 October 2011. To download or print, use the PDF files under 'Related resources,' (contains the full report or parts one or two individually).
Part One - Annual Report of the State Services Commissioner
Part Two - Annual Report of the State Services Commission
Please note: the information on pages 9-30 of the Annual Report (Remuneration of Public Service and State sector senior staff as at 30 June 2011) is also available separately in Excel format. See: www.ssc.govt.nz/rem-senior-state-sector-staff-to-30june11
Introduction to Parts One and Two by the State Services Commissioner below.
State Services Commissioner’s Annual Report on the State Services
New Zealand’s State Services have had a challenging year. The two earthquakes in Christchurch stretched the resources of both central and local government and demanded a response on a scale that we haven’t seen in this country for decades. As a public servant, I was immensely impressed with the way colleagues across the sector worked tirelessly together to assist Cantabrians through the aftermath of the tragedy; as a New Zealander I am proud of the commitment and dedication those men and women from across the public sector showed when their families, friends and communities needed them most.
In addition to the pressures of responding to the Canterbury earthquakes, State Services agencies have been working in an environment of high expectations and prolonged fiscal constraint. This has required us to focus on our highest priorities and to look to deliver services in different, more innovative and cost-effective ways. Ministers’ expectations for the State Services have been, and continue to be, for higher levels of productivity, greater efficiencies across the sector and better frontline service delivery for New Zealanders.
Improving performance across the sector in the short and medium term, and establishing a platform for innovative and responsive Public Services in the longer term has been the primary focus of the State Services Commission (SSC) over the past 12 months.
Performance Improvement Framework
Together with our central agency colleagues in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Treasury, we have successfully completed two rounds of Performance Improvement Framework reviews and published them on our website. In total, we have carried out 12 reviews of government agencies, with another seven scheduled for the coming 12 months. Already this material is providing us with a better picture of agency and system performance.
We are in an environment where Government and public expectations about the quality of service delivery is rising and the medium to long-term financial forecast is one of restraint. This means significant and ongoing change. Agencies are rethinking the ways they operate to ensure they are responding to these rising expectations, focusing on contributing resources where they matter most and delivering quality services for New Zealanders.
The challenge over the medium term is to develop high performing government agencies that are flexible, innovative and responsive to technological, social and demographic shifts. The Performance Improvement Framework was designed to help agencies and the system to understand more about performance and to find ways to improve and strengthen.
Through these reviews we are progressively building a better picture of cross-system performance and identifying issues we need to address at a sector or system level.
Over the next couple of years, we will see a much richer picture of agency performance. Agencies benchmarked in their first review will have completed another review and will be able to assess their performance against the improvement programmes they implemented. Ministers and the public will have a more consistent view of how agencies are performing and will see regular progress reported.
Integrity and Transparency
Over the course of the last year I have required State Services chief executives to be much more transparent about their expenses and their receipt of gifts and hospitality. This requirement is in line with international practice and locally Ministers, MPs and mayors are all subject to disclosure provisions. New Zealand’s public sector has a hard-won global reputation as one of the most transparent and least corrupt.
Chief executives of Public Service departments and Crown entities are expected to disclose their expenses, gifts and hospitality registers every six months and make this information publicly available on their agency’s website and on www.data.govt.nz . This disclosure regime, which complements the State Services’ Integrity and Conduct work programme, has now completed its second cycle and is well supported by agencies.
Open and transparent disclosure of public expenditure is an important part of maintaining public trust in the State Services. Pro-actively releasing this information sends a powerful message to the public that chief executives are accountable for public expenditure.
This year I also decided to separately publish the chief executive remuneration tables, which had previously been included in the SSC annual report. Publishing this information as a stand-alone document puts it in the public domain in a more timely fashion. The tertiary education institutions’ chief executives remuneration, while reported in this annual report, was for the calendar not financial year. For this reason, I reported two years of chief executive remuneration, to remove the six-month discrepancy that would have resulted from a single year’s reporting. All chief executive remuneration data is now in step, allowing a more accurate comparison across the sectors.
State Services Commissioner
Chief Executive’s overview
The State Services Commission (SSC) is the Government’s lead advisor on New Zealand’s public management system and works with government agencies to support the delivery of quality services to New Zealanders.
The State Services Commissioner’s statutory roles include appointing and managing Public Service chief executives, reviewing the performance of Public Service departments, providing guidance on integrity and conduct to State servants and reviewing the machinery of government across all areas of government.
Responding to tragedy
One of the biggest challenges the Public Service faced this year was the earthquakes in Canterbury. SSC’s role in the Government’s response was to support the rapid establishment of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and to appoint both an interim chief executive and then a permanent leader for the agency. The SSC staff worked extremely hard to meet the Government’s expectations around both these challenges and it is a credit to SSC staff that these deadlines were met and the agency was established and operational within the timeframes Ministers and the public expected.
Focusing on system performance
The Performance Improvement Framework reviews carried out to date are published, along with the initial system analysis, on SSC’s website. In addition to the system findings, SSC has reviewed the process itself and identified areas where we can make changes to ensure it continues to assist chief executives and agencies to improve their performance.
SSC’s new business strategy, which I cover in more detail below, is also designed to ensure we have more of a system focus and are working more with agency sector groups to ensure there are bigger and more coordinated lifts in performance.
Doing more with less
The SSC has continued to refine its operating model and is concentrating on those core activities that can make a real difference to the performance of the State Services in a challenging fiscal environment. This approach is reflected in the departure of the public sector training organisation, Learning State. Learning State now has more opportunities to deliver quality training outcomes to public servants through its new standing as an independent industry training organisation, while the SSC is able to focus its resources more clearly on those areas where we can make a real difference to agency and chief executive performance.
The SSC is increasingly using external capability and relationships with other agencies, in particular with the other central agencies, to achieve more with fewer resources, for instance, using external and credible Performance Improvement Framework reviewers, establishing mentoring relationships with experienced leaders for Public Service chief executives or establishing cross-agency project teams for critical projects that would benefit from specialist skills drawn from a range of agencies, such as setting a new direction for leadership development and talent management in the State sector.
Improving the way we work
With a shift to a more system-oriented focus, SSC has developed and been implementing a new business strategy. The strategy focuses on five key areas of SSC’s work:
setting the strategic direction for the system
building system capability
driving a step change in agency and sector performance
trust and integrity of the system
making the necessary changes to SSC’s operating model to effectively support this programme of system change.
In 2009/2010 the SSC began investigating options for shared services and outsourcing of corporate functions with the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; this work will continue over the next two years to ensure SSC has effective, fit for purpose and cost-effective services to support its delivery work.
This year SSC will continue to engage with Ministers, agencies and their chief executives on the issues critical to improving system performance and continue to work across the system to ensure New Zealanders experience the very highest levels of service delivery.
State Services Commissioner