4 May 2012
Papers Released On Better Public Services Programme
Papers that demonstrate the range of thinking that led to the Better Public Services programme have been released publicly today.
The papers released include Cabinet papers as well as issues papers that were considered by the Better Public Services Advisory Group, established by the Government last year to make recommendations on how the Public Service could deliver better results and improved services for New Zealanders. The Advisory Group report contributed to the Better Public Services Programme, announced by Prime Minister John Key on 15 March 2012.
State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said the papers demonstrate some of the issues and options that led to the Better Public Services programme.
The Better Public Services Programme is now working to deliver on the expectations set by the Government:
o Government agencies working far more closely together and in fundamentally different ways, whether it is organising around results, sharing functions and services, purchasing goods and services, developing systems jointly
o More contestability in service provision and use of alternative providers
o Greater use of technology and shift to digital channels, so New Zealanders can more easily access services
o Agencies collecting, using and publishing better performance information
o Greater responsiveness to the needs and expectations of New Zealanders, and a willingness to do things differently, including more open and transparent government through access to more information
As part of the focus on results, the Government has set ten key priority results. Leadership roles for these results areas have been assigned to five chief executives who are working with Ministers and contributing agencies to drive the delivery of results and give account for cross-agency performance.
The papers can be found at www.ssc.govtnz/better-public-services
Better Public Services Programme
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Better Public Services Programme?
The Better Public Services Programme is the next phase in the Government’s public sector reforms and is focused on getting the system working to deliver better results and improved services for New Zealanders.
The public sector represents one-quarter of New Zealand’s real economy and has a big influence on how our society and economy perform. As such, government agencies need to perform better by finding new and different ways of working that deliver greater value and better results for New Zealanders.
Some of the ways the Better Public Services programme will achieve this is:
• government agencies working more closely together and organising themselves around results that make a difference to New Zealand
• sharing functions and services, purchasing goods and services, and developing systems together
• greater use of technology and a shift to digital channels, so New Zealanders can more easily access government services
• agencies improving how they measure and report on performance
• greater responsiveness within the public sector to the needs and expectations of New Zealanders, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
The Better Public Services Programme is informed by the Better Public Services Advisory Group report, which provided recommendations to Government in December 2011 on how the Public Service could work smarter.
2. What role did the Better Public Services Advisory Group report have in this announcement?
The Government set up the Better Public Services Advisory Group in May 2011 to provide advice on getting our public services to meet the needs of 21st Century New Zealand. The Advisory Group included key State sector people as well as selected individuals from outside the sector, who had expertise and understanding of the Public Service, to contribute their expertise to the group.
The Advisory Group engaged with public sector leaders and looked at past public service reforms in New Zealand and also at what is happening in overseas administrations.
The Advisory Group’s report informed the Government’s decisions on the Better Public Services programme. You can read the report here.
3. Who was on the Advisory Group?
The Advisory Group comprised eight members:
• Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Chief Executive Maarten Wevers (chair)
• Watercare Services Ltd (Auckland) Chief Executive Mark Ford
• Air New Zealand Group General Manager, people and technical operations, Vanessa Stoddart
• Wise Group Chief Executive Jacqui Graham
• State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie
• Secretary to the Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf
• Victoria University School of Government Professor Peter Hughes
• State Services Commission Deputy Commissioner Sandi Beatie
4. Why do New Zealand’s State services need to change?
The goal is a public service and State sector that provides better results and improved services with an ongoing focus on value-for-money and innovation.
New Zealand’s State Services have been performing well in some areas. However, there are things that can be done better and opportunities to expand a number of innovations and good practices already underway. This particularly applies to initiatives that cut across multiple departments, and which have proved difficult to get traction on over many years.
5. What will New Zealanders see that is different as a result of the Better Public Services programme?
The goal of the Better Public Services programme is to support government agencies to deliver better results for less by:
• government agencies working far more closely together, and in a fundamentally different way, including organising themselves more around results, sharing functions and services, purchasing goods and services, and developing joint systems
• more contestability in service provision and use of alternative providers
• greater use of technology and a shift to digital channels, so New Zealanders can more easily access services
• agencies collecting, using and publishing better performance information
• greater responsiveness to the needs and expectations of New Zealanders, and a willingness to do things differently.
6. How does the cap on the number of public servants fit with the Better Public Service programme?
Achieving the aims of the Better Public Services programme goes beyond a focus only on staff numbers. It involves smarter ways of working to achieve better service delivery and ensuring that all expenditure is carefully and appropriately managed within reducing departmental baselines.
Since the cap was set in December 2008, the total number of FTE positions within core government administration has decreased by 2,365, reducing from 38,859 to 36,456 in December 2011. That counts most people working in government departments, and in some Crown entities, but it doesn’t include frontline staff like teachers, hospital staff or corrections officers.
The Government has reset the cap at 36,475 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for core government administration. (This is the number of positions as at 30 June 2011.)
7. What are the result areas?
The Government has identified ten key priorities for the next 3 to 5 years. Delivering these results requires groups of agencies and sectors to work together in different ways from how they currently operate, as well as publicly report on their progress towards achieving these goals.
The results are grouped under five headings:
Reducing long-term welfare dependency
1. Reduce the number of people who have been on a working age benefit for more than 12 months.
Supporting vulnerable children
2. Increase participation in early childhood education
3. Increase infant immunisation rates and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever.
4. Reduce the number of assaults on children.
Boosting skills and employment
5. Increase the proportion of 18 year olds with NCEA level 2 or equivalent qualification.
6. Increase the proportion of 25-34 year olds with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees (at level 4 or above).
7. Reduce the rates of total crime, violent crime and youth crime.
8. Reduce reoffending.
Improving interaction with government
9. New Zealand businesses have a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support they need to run and grow their business.
10. New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the Government easily in a digital environment.
8. How do the results areas work and when will they be reported on publicly?
This work is about moving away from being a collection of individual agencies, each doing their own thing, to collaborating on delivering results that matter to New Zealanders.
Targets will be developed for each of the results areas and these will be publicly reported on by the end of the year. The purpose of this is to make agencies publicly accountable for what is being achieved, or not achieved. It is a tangible demonstration of the commitment to achieving the results that the Government has identified as important.
9. Why is the government looking to establish a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment?
The new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is being set up to support the Government’s business growth agenda and help build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy. It will also help to deliver on one of the Government’s result priorities: a one-stop shop for government advice and support for businesses.
The proposed new Ministry will be formed from the resources of four existing agencies: It will integrate the functions of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and the functions of the Department of Building and Housing.
The proposed Ministry would seek to align business policy, regulation and engagement, so the Government will get a much more joined-up and focused resource, with less duplication and better results.