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Part Five: Financial and Resource Management

Asset Management

How well does the agency manage agency and Crown assets, and the agency’s balance sheet, to support service delivery and drive performance improvement?

Performance Rating: Needing development need development - big.

Information Management

How well does the agency manage and use information as a strategic asset?

Performance Rating: Needing development need development - big.

Financial Management

How well does the agency plan, direct and control financial resources to drive efficient and effective output delivery?

Performance Rating: Needing development need development - big.

Risk Management

How well does the agency identify and manage agency and Crown risk?

Performance Rating: Needing development need development - big.

Education NZ has a small fixed asset base (leasehold improvements, computer hardware, furniture and office equipment and motor vehicles) with a book value of $0.701 million at 30 June 2015 (original cost $1.112 million). Intangible assets (software) have a book value of $0.519 million. Education NZ has 18 offices overseas which are generally located in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or New Zealand Trade and Enterprise premises. Maintaining an overseas footprint is difficult for an agency of Education NZ’s small size and further opportunities to share or outsource services, including those involving NZ Inc partners, need to be explored. Trade-offs involving cost, quality and resilience need to be carefully considered, with the first objective being to achieve a workable level of service.

Education NZ has an ongoing programme to improve its ICT assets and capability. Connectivity and core systems are improving. Staff regard the newly formed ICT Steering Group as a step forward. The greatest problems are for the offshore locations and for the systematic capture of information. It is difficult for offshore staff to access, share or reliably store information. Education NZ is exploring an improved internet connection to overcome some of these problems and assist collaborative working between offices. A customer relationship management system and a document management system are in planning and are much needed. Among other things they will allow better capture and use of Education NZ’s in-market intelligence and will assist a more joined up approach across its business groups.

Education NZ’s role of understanding and marketing to a worldwide customer base, supporting the marketing and product development efforts of industry and ensuring coordination across the central government agencies mean that excellent information management is vital. This is particularly important as international education is rapidly changing. Information is a key strategic asset for Education NZ, the sector and industry and this needs to be further reflected in Education NZ’s business planning and in the supporting ICT infrastructure. Similarly Education NZ’s systems need to interface better with others to draw on the data and information held in other agencies to inform its operations.

Opportunities include obtaining better and more timely information from the Ministry of Education on enrolment, progression and completion rates to assist targeting; better capture, analysis and dissemination of research on students as the customer for international education; a portal for institutions to access data to use to assist their targeting; better analysis of trends and changes in markets; and feeding intelligence to inform the policy agenda.

In summary Education NZ needs to become more market and industry facing, using timely information and analysis to inform its business decisions, to help the education institutions target markets and groups and to inform across government policy and operations. This will also help Education NZ to be more connected up internally.

The Education NZ finance function is small and has had a focus on putting in place a sound payment, recording and control environment. Currently strategic financial management is underdeveloped and business intelligence, performance and risk can be used more to drive resource allocation, effectiveness and efficiency. Education NZ is a small organisation with limited resources and a range of activity. As noted elsewhere in this report it needs to develop a better understanding of its impacts and where it is adding the greatest value. This will help Education NZ to prioritise and stop doing some things in a constrained budget environment.

Education NZ has a Risk Management Policy and a Risk and Issues Register. The Register is reviewed by the Audit and Risk Committee four times a year and covers strategic, operational and programme risks. The listing of risks seems comprehensive and this type and level of approach is appropriate for an organisation of Education NZ’s size. Our question is, given the changing environment and challenges Education NZ faces, whether there is a clear enough understanding of the risk appetite and trade-offs required and whether risk is adequately integrated with strategic and business planning.

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