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Agency Response

In 2013, SSC underwent a full PIF Review. It was future-focused and identified priority areas in which SSC would need to lift its performance in the short and medium-term to make its best contribution for New Zealand. As part of the response I requested a Follow-up Review take place.

Chief Executives are commenting that PIF Follow-up Reviews are most useful when they are focussed on a small set of performance challenges and the lead reviewer provides a constructive critique of progress made and makes specific suggestions for further action.

The Commission followed this advice in commissioning our own Follow-up Review. Dame Patsy Reddy carried out the Follow-up Review in early 2015 and the review report was finalised in July. She was asked to focus specifically on two areas:

  • our progress in meeting the expectations of Chief Executives and Ministers (specifically in relation to CE recruitment, performance management and leadership and capability development and deployment); and
  • the effectiveness of the internal changes that we made following the 2013 PIF Review.

The Follow-up Review's analysis and recommendations are highly detailed, reflecting both the strategic role that individual units of the Commission have in leading change in the public sector, and also the two areas of focus I requested for the review.

This Follow-up Review looks at performance improvements achieved since 2013 and where we still have work to do.

It outlines the strengths of our existing resources and competencies and how those skills and that expertise prepares us for our mid-term goals, as well as for our overarching strategy to transform New Zealand's public services.

I am pleased it finds we are on the right track and there is a definite sense of momentum.

Our goal is not a once-only reform to achieve better public services, but continual improvement in the entire system, driven by high-performing collective leadership from chief executives and their senior management teams.

The greatest benefits from these ongoing reforms will only come when the whole system is working well.

My role as Commissioner is to support Chief Executives to lead the State services into a more collaborative and customer focused environment. Continuous improvement is not just our goal - it is the new normal.

We need to be flexible, adaptable and nimble-footed to respond to changing times and targets, and to lead from the front.

To achieve that, I requested that the PIF be a comprehensive and highly detailed report in specific areas.

It is good to celebrate success, and to identify improvements made. Additionally, independent reviews allow fresh ideas, and give incentive to rethink everyday practices and encourage change.

There are challenges we are facing as a Commission and these were acknowledged in the review. It has clearly and crisply identified areas to focus on, and we are continuing to take action to put processes in place that will get the results New Zealanders are looking for. I am confident we can deal with them - in fact, we are dealing with them already - because our foundations are strong and our aspirations are high.

I would like to thank our lead reviewer, Dame Patsy Reddy, for her approach and her constructive engagement throughout the follow-up review. Due to her recommendations, our organisational management will become stronger and more effective.

Action to implement the review's recommendations commenced as Dame Patsy began to form her conclusions and has continued after the report's completion. This includes:

  • Putting in place a new process for integrating all aspects of our engagement with Chief Executives, including recruitment, induction, performance management and succession planning.
  • Building our analytical capability.
  • Implementing initiatives to identify and develop a stronger and more diverse pipeline of future State services leaders.
  • Better understanding of the needs of internal and external audiences to ensure that we both engage and communicate more effectively.

I am excited about the next phase the Commission is moving into and I am grateful for the hard work our people have put into improving our services and advice to Ministers, Chief Executives and other senior leaders.

Iain Rennie
State Services Commissioner

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