Managing the Department

One of the challenges in 2009/10 has been to build and maintain our organisational capability within the context of a public sector faced with significant financial constraints and the need to do more with less. Another challenge has been to continue to focus on improving the effectiveness and delivery of services while managing organisational change. Some of the ways in which we achieved this are outlined below.

Organisational change

Transfer of Government Technology Services

On 1 July 2009, the Government Technology Service was successfully transferred from the State Services Commission to the Department and, together with the existing Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Group and Programme Office, formed a new ICT business group.

A new operating model was subsequently developed to enhance our capability to better support both our own ICT operations, and those of the wider public sector. The new operating model has been in place since late December 2009, at which time the business group was renamed Government Technology Services (GTS).

Decision to integrate National Library, Archives New Zealand and Internal Affairs

When Government announced its decision, in March 2010, to integrate the Department of Internal Affairs, the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand, it was clear the next round of organisation-al change would be significant.

Chief Executive Brendan Boyle signalled early on that the integration would involve changes that would impact staff across the Department – including changes to all business groups and the executive leadership team structure – as it was not possible to simply add on significant new functions to the existing structure without affecting the ability to manage and govern the organisation, and maintain standards of service.

The final quarter of 2009/10 was therefore spent setting up the infrastructure and processes to support the level of change that would give effect to the Cabinet decision to integrate the three agencies. A programme was established to manage all aspects of the integration through to the point at which Chief Executive Brendan Boyle becomes responsible for the existing three departments’ functions and services. The programme – appropriately named ‘321 koru ki te tahi’ – will continue beyond that point as necessary to ensure the organisation’s systems and processes are sufficiently integrated and service delivery to customers is uninterrupted. The aim is to ensure “the services we provide today will be better tomorrow”.

Office of the Chief Executive review

Prior to the integration announcement, a number of smaller internal organisational change management processes were completed to enhance service delivery. A review of the functions of the Office of the Chief Executive was undertaken and, as a result, the business group has focused on wider strategic engagement across the organisation, including a cross-departmental working group used for the first time in developing the 2010–13 Statement of Intent.

Local Government Services review

The Local Government Services was reviewed to determine whether the Local Government and Community Branch had the optimal set of organisational arrangements for delivering all of its current and future local government operational activities and to maximise efficiency and effectiveness. The review recommended changes to build operational capability in the local government area, and to provide for better career development and opportunities for staff. The resulting new structure will be in place in July 2010.

New Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Unit

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Unit was established in November 2009 to support the Department’s role as one of three supervisors of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009. The unit is currently involved in establishment and implementation work. Its major focus for the next one to two years is on ensuring supervisors and reporting entities are prepared for the commencement of the Act. (The actual date of commencement is yet to be set by Order in Council.)

Improving performance and productivity

The Department participated in a range of initiatives focused on improving performance and productivity.

The Department was one of three agencies involved in the pilot phase of the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) project – a central agency-initiated project designed to drive performance improvement at an agency, sector and system level.

As part of the pilot, the Department was assessed on its delivery of government priorities and core business, and on ability to deliver its business in the future. The resulting report was constructive and reflected our own understanding of the Department’s performance and capability, while providing useful suggestions for consideration. Many of the actions identified by the PIF assessors were considered and progressed through Departmental initiatives.

A Performance and Productivity Improvement programme was initiated within the Department in December 2009 in response to Government’s direction to provide better, smarter public services. Its objectives include delivering better outcomes for the Department’s clients as well as providing greater value for money and improved productivity. The programme uses a structured ‘systems thinking’ approach intended to enable us to gain a better understanding of how our work systems operate and how they currently perform for customers. Initial work has focused on the Identity Services area and improvements from this initial intervention are being implemented with good results. This work will inform our approach to other parts of the Department and help identify future improvement actions.

The Department is one of 14 agencies participating in the Treasury-led Better Administrative and Support Services (BASS) programme, established to reduce the cost and strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative and support services across the State sector. The Department participated in a benchmarking exercise as part of the first phase of the programme. Future involvement is dependent on decisions about how the initiative will be progressed.

Work on a potential upgrade and development of the Department’s Financial Management Information System (FMIS) to address current gaps and meet user needs is on hold pending the outcome of the BASS initiative. It is expected that FMIS shortcomings will be addressed in the medium term once the direction for the provision of financial services across government has been clarified.

Increasingly our focus has been on supporting other government agencies to improve their performance. The Department’s procurement team hosted the Centre of Expertise (CoE) for IT equipment for all-of-government, which is part of the Government Procurement Reform Programme led by the Ministry of Economic Development (MED).

The CoE team, comprising Internal Affairs procurement staff and MED staff, was responsible for the delivery and roll-out of supply contracts for desktop and laptop computers, and single and multi-functional print devices, to public sector and State service agencies.

Procurement staff worked with representatives across the sectors to meet business needs and ensure the end products contracted were fit for purpose and represented value for money. This initiative is expected to achieve a minimum of 5–10 per cent savings for participating agencies through better pricing, standardisation of existing specifications and lower cost of doing business for suppliers.

Improving effectiveness of our services

Improving effectiveness, efficiency and the delivery of our services is a priority across all areas of the Department’s work. This is increasingly important in a tight fiscal environment where the public sector is being asked to deliver the same or better services with less money. In addition to our performance and productivity initiatives, significant effort was put into improving effectiveness of our services in 2009/10.

For instance, in the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM), we improved internal communication and implemented a quality-assurance process for publications produced for the sector. We also undertook work on identifying priorities and gaps in stakeholder relations, and improving mechanisms for collecting feedback from the sector. These steps are part of a move to strengthen relations with key stakeholders and ensure that the services provided are best geared towards the enhancement of resilience.

Over the 2009/10 financial year, a series of tsunami threats tested the national capability to respond to civil defence emergencies. The September 2009 tsunami that caused significant loss of life on Samoa also triggered the first warning of a tsunami threat in New Zealand through the national warning system. An internal and external review of the response to the tsunami threat highlighted several deficiencies in the response, particularly in the provision of information to the media and public. MCDEM undertook a number of corrective actions to address the issues identified by these reviews. Subsequent alerts issued in response to tsunami events in October 2009 (Vanuatu) and February 2010 (Chile) demonstrated an improvement in the response.

The Integrated Gambling Platform (IGP) is a major IT infrastructure project we are establishing to improve our effectiveness and efficiency in the regulation of gambling. In 2009/10, we advanced our planning and procure-ment activity for the IGP and expect to begin development of the new licensing and compliance system in 2010/11.

We constantly scan our operational environment and analyse the information we collect to improve our effectiveness. In 2009/10, we updated the Internet Traders of Child Pornography Profiling Study to better understand the nature of censorship offenders. We also continued to develop our capability to respond to the ever-evolving technology used by offenders, such as those used for ‘spam’, especially ‘botnets’. Where appropriate, we coordinate our responses with international organisations, for instance when dealing with emerging risks such as mobile text message-based fraud.

Another major focus for the organisation was building capability to support both the Department and other government agencies using common ICT capability. In support of the new GTS operating model, a new ‘client service provider’ model was developed and will be introduced on 1 July 2010. This is a costing model that provides greater understanding of financial performance and more robust information on which to base pricing decisions for services. It is expected to lead to cost reductions in the Department as well as the wider State sector. The model will be further developed during 2010/11.

We also produced a service catalogue to accompany the cost model. This defines and structures the services offered, and is central to the new operating model for ICT services.

To support consistent service delivery and drive down costs for both the Department and wider State sector over time, we developed a framework for integrated asset management and will produce asset management plans to align with the framework.

Supply will be managed, and demand aggregated, across government to get the right blend of services and suppliers at optimum cost.

Building our people capability

In 2009/10, we developed a new People Strategy aligned with the Department’s priorities and, in particular, focused on building capability to manage change. This has been particularly relevant given the decision to integrate the Department with the National Library and Archives New Zealand.

To strengthen our management and leadership capability, and to support our focus on organisational change, we developed a new Lominger-based competency framework and are implementing it using a phased approach. All senior managers were trained and the new competencies will be incorporated into performance agree-ments for third-tier managers from 1 July 2010, and the rest of the organisation from 1 July 2011.

Regular Managers’ Forums also provide an opportunity for senior managers to gain a better understanding of the Department’s purpose and direction and build senior manager capability.

Increasing staff engagement continued to be a focus for the Department, with all teams having plans in place to improve engagement. This is supported by a strong focus on induction, including a monthly induction day to introduce new staff to all aspects of the Department’s work.

The Department recognises that an effective induction programme is essential for ensuring new staff become competent performers as soon as possible. Good practice indicates that new staff who have had a positive induction experience are less likely to leave the organisation at an early stage than those who haven’t, which also has a positive impact on staff retention. Staff turnover for the year was 11 per cent, compared with 11.8 per cent in the previous year. The State sector average at June 2010 was 10.7 per cent.

We monitor the induction experience through a survey of all new staff who have been in the Department for three months. This post-induction survey indicated that our new staff are highly engaged.

An important part of the induction process is developing performance agreements and development plans. The number of new permanent staff with performance agreements in place within six weeks of starting with the Department has increased from 43.5 per cent in 2008 to 61.2 per cent in 2009, and the number of new staff with development plans in place has increased from 38.4 per cent in 2008 to 59.2 per cent in 2009.