PIF Fact Sheet 5: What are the system-level ratings, findings and the Six Dimensions of System Performance
What are the system-level ratings?
The current system-level ratings provide an aggregate picture of the 'traffic lights' from all published PIF Reviews to date. Please refer to the attached PDF for the most recent system-level ratings.
What do the ratings mean?
Simply put, the greener the traffic lights, the better positioned the system is. The more red and orange the traffic lights, the more work needs to be done. Here is the ribric itself:
Why do the ratings matter?
One of the benefits of Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) is that Ministers, the public, chief executives and senior leaders have a system-wide diagnosis about what is good and where the State Services needs to improve.
Are the ratings benchmarks?
No. A word of caution: the PIF system-level ratings are not process, performance, functional, best-in-class or operational benchmarks. Rather, they are an insight into the aggregate ratings. They are updated every time a PIF Review is released. The ratings observe and comment on which agencies do things particularly well and what is at the heart of that strong practice. The ratings serve to bring a sharpness of focus to PIF Reviews.
What are the system-level findings?
System-level ratings and findings are different. System-level findings are an aggregate narrative prepared by officials.
The most recent system-level findings were published by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in December 2012. See here for a copy of that paper: http://igps.victoria.ac.nz/publications/publications/show/339. The first set of system-level findings was released on 16 May 2011. See Cabinet Paper PIF 2nd Tranche Results and System Findings, which can be found on the web page at www.ssc.govt.nz/pif-reports-announcements.
Why do the findings matter?
One of the key benefits of the system-level findings is that corporate centre officials are openly offering their interpretation of what they believe the PIF results suggest. These findings are part of a shift to a more explicit standard of defining and tracking performance, changing the nature of incentives, boosting the role that the corporate centre can play, and enhancing the ability for stakeholders and the public to scrutinise what they are getting for their tax dollars.
What do the findings say?
We do a number of things really well. We are responsive to Ministers. We are good at delivering against government priorities. We work well with a number of external stakeholders and we are good around the probity of our financial management system. These are all good characteristics of the New Zealand public management system. So far the reviews have a very common theme. They show the need for us as a system, ie, the wider State Services, to get better at working together. We also need to take a longer-term view to what we do; this means anticipating the issues that the State Services needs to deliver on for New Zealanders in the future. For some agencies, it is clear they can do better at managing and developing their people.
What are the Six Dimensions of System Performance?
The individual elements of PIF Agency Model have been grouped into six thematic dimensions - results, strategy and role, internal leadership, working with others, improving delivery and finance and resources - to make up the Six Dimensions. Each of the dimensions is based on the set of the principles at the heart of the Better Public Services Advisory Group report. We have done this so as to study how the elements interact at a system level. A copy of the model is available at www.ssc.govt.nz/pif.
What is Getting to Great?
Getting to Great is a report produced by the PIF Lead Reviewers using the Six Dimensions of System Performance. The first report was published in April 2013. See here for the first report www.ssc.govt.nz/pif.
Why was the Performance Improvement Framework introduced?
When Iain Rennie became the State Services Commissioner he was concerned that the public service was not perceived as taking ownership of its own performance improvement. He noted there were plenty of reports from external agencies and lobby groups, which were often critical of the public service. He felt many of them did not recognise the real strength of the public service and equally he wanted to move the culture of the public service towards continuous improvement and innovation.
What are the origins of the Performance Improvement Framework?
In 2009, Iain Rennie and the then Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, now Sir Maarten Wevers, travelled to the United Kingdom to meet with the Cabinet Secretary of the British Civil Service. The origins of the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) are in those discussions with the then Cabinet Secretary, and now Right Honourable, Lord Gus O'Donnell. On their return to New Zealand, Iain and Sir Maarten commissioned a team from across the State Services to take the best of the United Kingdom's Capability Review Programme and the best of the organisational improvement models from the New Zealand private sector, as well as methodologies from other jurisdictions, and adapt them to the New Zealand public management system.
What are the benefits of PIF Reviews to central agencies?
The central agencies get a good picture of what is good about the New Zealand public management system and what needs to improve. Central agency officials would frequently get asked 'who is good at financial management?' or 'who is good at setting strategy?' Up until now there has been no way they could point to the areas of demonstrable and evidential strength. Now they can. Before PIF everyone had their own anecdotes about what needed to be done better. For central agency officials PIF gives a system-wide diagnosis about what is good and where the system can improve.
What is the benefit for Ministers?
Ministers get assurance that the agencies they are responsible for are constantly looking for ways to improve how they do business and deliver value for the taxpayers' investment in them. Ministers also get independent assurance, as the PIF Reviews are undertaken by external expert parties.
What about the public?
The public is able to see that the State Services are 'on the move' and are serious about the services it delivers and how these are delivered. The public can see that the State Services are continuously seeking to improve and are transparent about that journey.
What do you see as the future direction?
PIF will continuously be reviewed. Every time we do a Review we learn something and we seek to build that into our own continuous improvement process. With the advent, for example, of the Better Public Services programme, we are seeking to shift the bar in respect of standards of performance. From our point of view, Better Public Services and PIF examine the same drivers. Where PIF is all about jobs we do, and improving the workplaces for public servants so they can do their jobs better, Better Public Services is also about improving what we do on behalf of, and for, New Zealanders.
Performance Improvement Framework: Continuous improvement
The PIF already has a number of dimensions to it. Agencies conduct Self-reviews where they rate themselves against the Agency Model. For many this is a precursor to a PIF Review. An agency that is formally reviewed will also undertake a Follow-up Review, usually 12-18 months later, which reviews the progress the agency has made since the PIF Review.
In addition, ten PIF Elements will be upgraded between now and the end of April 2013. As part of this guidance release three PIF Elements are upgraded. Those elements are Asset Management and Financial Management, as well as Efficiency.
Successful agencies need their finance functions to look beyond the traditional core functions to use their financial acumen and insight to drive new value and higher levels of business transformation and performance. A close reading of the current upgrades place more weighting on the use of financial management information and advice for operational and strategic purposes and on the proactive role the finance function needs to play in decisions around creating value for money and leading strategic financial management disciplines in the agency.
Performance Improvement Framework: Crown entities
We have already started rolling out PIF to the Crown entity sector. Both the New Zealand Transport Agency and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have been reviewed. Over the next two or three years, as we complete reviews for the core public service, we are increasingly wanting to focus on the wider Crown entity sector.
For more information
A new guidance series was released in April 2013. It reflects developments in the suite of Performance Improvement Framework products and services. As with any good performance improvement tool, PIF will continue to improve to meet the needs of Ministers, the public, chief executives, senior leaders and agencies in the wider State Services. To contact the PIF team email firstname.lastname@example.org.