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the department of internal affairs Annual Report 2008-09

Organisational Health and Capability

A number of factors influenced the Department’s organisational health and capability during 2008/09.

Labour market conditions

The effects of the negative economic and fiscal environment on the labour market had a significant impact on the Department’s workforce. The staff turnover rate in 2008/09 was at its lowest level for six years, and was almost half that of the previous year.

Staff Turnover

Staff Turnover

In line with the turnover trend, the number of vacancies ‘open’ at any given time decreased by around 45 per cent in the year from June 2008 to June 2009. This reflects both the reduced number of vacancies and the reduced time taken to fill those positions that became vacant during the year. Similarly, the number of internal appointments increased over the year, and at June 2009 almost half of all appointments came from internal applicants.

At the same time, the Department has reduced its previous reliance on contractors. In 2007/08, we spent $16.7 million on contractors, whereas in 2008/09 this had reduced to $9.7 million.

Despite the softening labour market, we continued to focus on raising staff engagement levels. This is important not only in retaining staff, but to ensure that staff who stay are engaged with the organisation. An Engagement Survey was run in March 2009 with the results showing a significant lift in engagement across the Department. The proportion of engaged staff increased from 15 per cent to 20.5 per cent and the proportion of disengaged staff decreased from 29.5 per cent to 21.7 per cent. In addition, the Department scored 67.2 per cent for the question “I would recommend this organisation as a great place to work” in 2009, an increase from 61.3 per cent for the same question in 2007.

The Department continues to work closely with its Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) network groups. All groups were consulted as part of the development of the Department’s new People Strategy as were groups of mature and Y-Generation workers.

This led to the inclusion of a diversity management stream as one of the six streams of the People Strategy. Under this stream a number of initiatives have been put in place to better support our diverse workforce, including running retirement planning workshops for mature staff and convening a greater number of career development activities for the various EEO staff network groupings.


In response to the ‘swine flu’ pandemic, the Department implemented planned arrangements consistent with the State Services Commission guidelines. These preparations helped to minimise the potential impacts on staff. The average amount of sick leave taken during the height of the pandemic (three months from 1 May 2009 to 31 July 2009) was 12 per cent more than for the same period a year previously.

New functions

In March 2008, Cabinet approved recommendations to move the Government Technology Services (GTS) function from the State Services Commission (SSC) to the Department of Internal Affairs. The Department was selected as the preferred location for the service delivery because it was seen as having the required capacity and capability to pick up the GTS functions.

A number of staff from both SSC and the Department worked extremely hard over a 12-month period to ensure the GTS function was operating in the Department from 1 July 2009. All legal, physical and financial aspects were transferred by the deadline. This included connectivity of all business systems and products, and the transfer of GTS information (including 330,000 electronic files).

By careful resource management, we did not need to lease additional space to accommodate the extra staff, but used existing space capacity through the re-shuffling of work teams.

Better, smarter services for less

During 2008/09, we reviewed our activities as part of the Budget 2009 process to identify savings. One-off savings of $6.6 million in 2008/09 and ongoing annual savings of $1.6 million were identified.

Reviews will continue each year to achieve the optimal mix of price, quantity and standard for the provision of services. By way of illustration, we appointed a new recruitment agency supplier panel, with standard recruitment fees agreed across all suppliers. The Department had been dealing with as many as 65 recruitment agencies, which was time consuming for managers. The new recruitment panel consists of just 10 agencies that have strict performance indicators to adhere to around service delivery and costs. We have continued to lower recruitment advertising costs, with expenditure halving from an average of nearly $1,500/hire for the 2007/08 year to just over $700/hire for the 2008/09 year.

Information and communications technologies (ICT) are fundamental to providing efficient and effective services that enable the Department to contribute to its outcomes. The focus for 2008/09 was to rationalise and consolidate data centres, reduce costs and improve reliability, as well as planning for a progressive move to a consistent architecture.

The Department will continue to improve and review its ICT systems with a view to reducing fragmentation, making better use of resources, improving skill levels and critical mass, and creating a stronger and more resilient Department.

For example, extending the use of the Identity Services Contact Centre telephone technology (called eSolidus) to other areas of the Department will lead to improved service and efficiency gains. From 1 October 2009, the Office of Ethnic Affairs Language Line will use the eSolidus technology to bring the service ‘in house’ which will result in a cost savings of nearly $115,000 per annum (these savings will reduce the call costs for DIA and other agencies using the service).

Wherever possible, we combine cost-efficiency initiatives with sustainable operating practices. For example, spending on air travel reduced by 18 per cent, with resulting environmental as well as financial benefits.

The Department is focusing on the key priorities as set by the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy – October 2007. In line with this, over the past 12 months we have:

  • purchased emission friendly vehicles which are returning 20 per cent operational and fuel cost savings
  • consolidated energy suppliers, which is returning 12 per cent savings
  • reduced air travel spend by 18 per cent
  • adopted the New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust Environmental Product standards for goods purchased
  • partnered with Meridian Energy and entered a print supply contract with Blue Star Print Group, which incorporates strong sustainability practices and measures.
  • We also continue to strengthen our financial management capability, for example by offering financial management training to new budget holders. One measure of good financial management is forecasting accuracy. In 2008/09, the Department’s capital expenditure was within 0.01 per cent of forecast (Statement of Intent for 2008-11), a significant improvement on the previous year.

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    Our Organisation

    The Department of Internal Affairs – Te Tari Taiwhenua – is the oldest government department and traces its history back to the structures put in place immediately after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    The Department is a diverse organisation, with more than 1,400 staff providing a range of services supporting citizens, communities and government. We deliver services from 21 cities and towns throughout New Zealand, plus small offices in Sydney and London.

    We provide policy advice to our Ministers in the areas of local government, community and voluntary sector issues, ethnic affairs, civil defence and emergency management, gambling, racing, fire, identity, public inquiries, daylight saving and censorship. We also advise a number of other Ministers as the need arises. The Department administers around 90 Acts and Regulations.

    The Department delivers its services through eight[1] business groups. The general managers of these report directly to Brendan Boyle as Chief Executive, and are responsible for managing their respective areas and delivering agreed outputs with Ministers. In addition, they form part of the Executive Leadership Team, whose role is to provide direction and leadership to the Department. A brief description of the operations, roles and responsibilities of each business group follows.

    Total Number of Staff as at 30 June 2009

    Total Number of Staff as at 30 June 2009

    Identity Services

    General Manager: Annette Offenberger

    Identity Services is the trusted ‘kaitiaki’ of New Zealanders’ identity information. It is responsible for the creation, stewardship and integrity of records of, or relating to, New Zealanders’ identity. In addition, Identity Services provides leadership in identity information management across government to ensure New Zealand’s approach to identity is trusted and well led. It registers birth, death, civil union and marriage details, issues passports and manages citizenship applications. Identity Services is the custodian of the Evidence of Identity Standard for the State sector, is the lead agency in the development of the Identity Assurance Framework, and is leading the ‘Identity at the Border’ workstream, which is part of the Border Sector Initiative, and the Cross Government Biometrics Group. As the authoritative source of identity information for New Zealanders, Identity Services is also working on the All-of-government Authentication Programme, to develop the igovt Identity Verification Service.

    Executive Government Support

    General Manager: Janice Calvert

    Executive Government Support (EGS) supports the efficient operation and continuity of Executive Government by providing Ministers with a range of services including residential accommodation, transport services, advice and administrative support for their ministerial offices. Through the facilitation of guest-of-Government visits and ceremonial events, EGS contributes to the development of New Zealand’s international connections and a public understanding of our culture and heritage. It provides a translation service that is available to government and the general public, publishes the New Zealand Gazette, provides authentication of official documents, and administers the Congratulatory Message Service and the Gambling Commission. It also sets up and administers commissions of inquiry and other ad hoc bodies, ensuring these are established quickly and efficiently when required.

    Local Government and Community

    Deputy Secretary: Anne Carter

    The Local Government and Community Branch works towards the goal of building strong communities, hapū and iwi. This goal involves the Branch assisting communities to develop strategies that result in local solutions to local issues.

    It supports the local government system by providing community advisory and local government interface services and information to the public, including administering CommunityNet Aotearoa. It administers lottery grants, Crown-funded schemes such as the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, and a range of other grants and trusts that develop community capacity to address local issues. The Branch provides policy advice on local government and community and voluntary sector issues, and administers an array of local government legislation.

    Regulation and Compliance

    Deputy Secretary: Keith Manch

    The Regulation and Compliance Branch integrates regulatory policy and operational activities that help to ensure safer communities, contributes to building strong, sustainable communities/hapū/iwi, and promotes trust in the integrity of New Zealand’s records of identity. Key areas of focus include providing policy advice on gambling, racing, censorship, civil defence and emergency management, fire services, identity, citizenship, public inquiries and daylight saving. The Branch has operational responsibilities for regulating gambling, censorship and the sending of unsolicited electronic messages (spam). This involves licensing gambling activities, inspecting and monitoring gambling activities and venues, monitoring spam, investigating the possession and supply of objectionable material and inspecting the public display of publications. The Branch assists Ministers with making appointments to the boards of three Crown entities, 12 community trusts and other statutory bodies and monitors the performance of these Crown entities on behalf of Ministers.

    Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

    Director: John Hamilton

    The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) provides operational advice to the Government on civil defence and emergency management (CDEM). It provides leadership on the strategic direction for CDEM in New Zealand through the development of an integrated, risk-based approach. This includes working with stakeholders, including territorial authorities and CDEM Groups, government agencies and lifeline utility providers to address the ‘4Rs’ of reduction, readiness, response and recovery. MCDEM supports disaster management at the local level and also coordinates the operational response of government and national resources during states of national emergency.

    Office of Ethnic Affairs

    Director: Mervin Singham

    The Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) promotes the vision for ethnic communities to be confident, equal and proud as New Zealanders, by providing advice to government on contemporary diversity issues, leading best practice in ethnic sector development and acting as a catalyst for ethnic responsiveness across central and local government. OEA also manages Language Line, a professional telephone interpreting service, to enable people with limited or no English to access government services.

    Business Services

    Director: Norah Familton

    The Business Services Branch provides a range of corporate services and support to the operational business groups, enabling them to excel in their areas of expertise. The range of services provided includes finance, procurement, strategic human resources, strategic communications, information and communications technology, programme office, research and evaluation, and property.

    From 1 July 2009 information and communications technology transferred to a new Information and Communications Technologies branch, which also incorporates the Government Technology Services function transferred from the States Services Commission.

    Office of the Chief Executive

    Acting Director: Morag Woodley

    The Office of the Chief Executive provides advice and support to the Chief Executive, the Executive Leadership Team and operational business groups. The range of services includes strategy and planning, ministerial advice and support, project and risk services, audit and assurance, legal services, and effectiveness for Māori.

    [1] As of 1 July 2009, the Department has a ninth business group – Information and Communications Technologies branch.

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Last updated: 20/10/2009