Leading for results
As State sector chief executives we know the issues of greatest concern to Ministers and communities often cannot be addressed by single agencies working alone. In such areas as social welfare, education, health, economic development and environmental stewardship real progress is typically best achieved only through concerted government-wide action.
Agencies have worked hard to achieve better outcomes on complex cross-cutting issues by working collectively more effectively than we have done previously. We recommend the incoming government retain this approach. We think the core features of this results-focussed approach have been valuable for progressing some intractable problems which have concerned successive governments, as well as providing a model for how the entire public services should work. The approach has included specifying outcomes at a manageable level; clarity on targets; appointing leaders who are responsible for achieving results; using data and performance information to drive action; reporting progress to the Executive; and providing information on the agreed results.
This approach has enabled us to achieve public reporting that is more transparent and comprehensive. The results-focussed approach means we are making the greatest impact we can with the resources we have. In an environment in which, for the foreseeable future, resources will be highly constrained, the imperative is on achieving better results within existing resources, and this is helping drive a considerable shift in mindset across the system.
One benefit of the results approach has been the learning it offers for organisational and system improvements. Results can be refined because experience provides better information on effective interventions and measuring achievements. Targets and indicators can be monitored, revised and improved over time. Likewise, results should be periodically reviewed and updated.
We suggest senior Ministers discuss a refreshed set of results with officials. We consider there is value in focusing the set on a limited number of key priorities across the system where inter-agency collaboration will foster progress. We encourage the Government to replace results that are well on track rather than build a larger number. That will ensure the system is collectively focused on the key results.
In refreshing the result areas currently being worked on, we suggest Ministers could look at aligning elements of Result 9 (improving the government-business interface), Result 10 (improving the government-citizen interface) and the GCIO-led ICT Strategy and Action Plan. The intent would be to accelerate the provision of government services digitally in a way that makes government increasingly customer-centric (both for the citizen and for business). 'Customer-centric' would drive joining-up across services (e.g. common identity, information, payment mechanism etc) wherever that made sense.
Ministers will need to reset Result 1 in light of the National Party's commitment around a more demanding target to reducing welfare dependency. And given the Government's commitment to addressing child poverty, Ministers may want to consider how Results 1-4 are framed to focus on this issue. The Results will also need adjusting to reflect the National Party's commitment to introduce a new Better Public Services target to reduce crime, from 2011 levels, by 20 percent by 2017.