The State Services Commissioner's Overview
The State Services Commission's focus is "a higher performing State sector that New Zealanders trust, delivering outstanding results and value for money".
Achieving this outcome requires system-wide change and the Commission has an important leadership role in inspiring and enabling this change. Leading this change is the business, and the only business, of the Commission.
The past year has seen further development of the results approach across the State services and the outcomes-focused collaborative methods of work needed to achieve results. The system overall has been successful in focusing more on the positive impact that we can have on the big and difficult issues of concern to the government and the community. This is seen not only in the progress made on the government's 10 results but more generally in other areas of policy and delivery.
These changes are not yet embedded. Over the past year we have laid the foundations for enduring system change and we are now well positioned to give momentum to the reform agenda. This has recently been encapsulated in our new operating model and in our roadmap to 2018. In the roadmap we set out our core ambitions for the future development of the State services:
- the State sector has the people and institutions its needs to respond to the needs of today and the future (system stewardship)
- we have the system leaders and they are supported to maximise their impact and deliver agreed results to NewZealanders (collective impact)
- we learn about what works best and use this to improve the performance to customers (learning culture).
To achieve these changes in the system, we need to be the best that we can be as an organisation. Our fourth ambition is therefore:
- SSC is sought out as a respected and confident system leader (better every day SSC)
These four ambitions will guide how the Commission works, where we invest resources and effort, and how we carry out our activities and work programmes. By achieving the ambitions we will build the system's ability to deliver on the results sought by the government and New Zealanders now and into the future.
Over the past year we have moved to change the way we work in support of these ambitions. Our systems for the appointment and management of chief executives have been recently modernised. We have set chief executive expectations to better support government priorities, and we have changed the performance review and remuneration process to help build strong and well led departments. Four-year Plans will give Ministers confidence that chief executives are continuing to build the capability of their agencies to deliver priorities. Talented successors for current chief executives can be in short supply, and we are working with agencies on improved succession planning to mitigate risks in this area.
The Commission works to develop people capability across the system. Increasingly prominent over the last year has been the Leadership and Capability Development and Deployment programme which supports the development of leadership and expert capability on a system-wide basis. We have also begun the process of renewing our integrity programmes so that traditionally high standards of trustworthiness and integrity are reinforced and maintained.
We have a leadership role in building collaboration between agencies and therefore increasing their collective impact. We are integrally involved in work to achieve better results on key issues across the system. We have focused on developing common functions across the system such as functional leadership and we have strengthened professional leadership in key areas.
Several aspects of the work of the Commission are central to the growth of a learning culture in our State services. External reviews of agencies through the Performance Improvement Framework are now a core part of how departments learn to develop the results focus of their work. We have worked to pilot continuous improvement methodologies in a number of agencies across the system. These provide agencies with key tools and methods for reducing waste improving value for customers, and hence lifting performance.
These developments are key to ensuring that the Commission, which is a small agency, is able to exercise the 'reach' and influence to perform a significant leadership role. In this connection, we have also focused on expanding and developing the wider leadership group driving system reform. We have moved to work more effectively with our central agency partners, the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. And we are in the process of assisting the wider chief executive group in the Public Service to develop its leadership role. This year I hosted the first of what will be biannual two-day meetings for Public Service and key Crown entity chief executives. The chief executives concluded their meeting by making a collective declaration that they would assume the role of being the leadership team of the State services. They committed to being champions of reform, to improve system performance and to organise and operate better around the issues and opportunities that require collective impact to make the biggest difference for New Zealanders. This is a crucially important development for building momentum and impact in the change process.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the work done by Commission staff to date and the work that I know will be done in the coming year. Our achievements would not have been possible without dedicated and committed people.
We all come to work every day to make a difference.
I trust you enjoy reading this report and find it informative.
State Services Commissioner