16 May 2024

The Performance Improvement Review Programme (the Programme) is an initiative to lift agency and system performance across the Public Service, to help advance the Government’s priorities and drive results and outcomes for New Zealanders.

The Programme provides a consistent basis for driving performance of agencies and systems and identifying the actions necessary to lift their performance.

Performance Improvement Reviews take a forward-looking approach to identifying what is expected from an agency or system over the following 4-10 years, the capability of an agency or system to meet those expectations and the challenges they may face along the way.

The Programme has separate models for agency and system reviews, to reflect the differences in focus: 

  • During an agency review, independent Lead Reviewers use the Agency Performance Improvement Model to evaluate the performance and capability of the agency and to identify priority areas for improvement. Each agency is rated on a number of elements, including its delivery of Government priorities and core functions and organisational management. Organisational management covers aspects such as leadership and direction, how the agency focuses on delivery for customers, clients and citizens, and how it manages key relationships, its workforce, finances and other resources.
  • System reviews take a broader lens to support groups of agencies and chief executives to work together to deliver shared outcomes and work across common customers, clients, and businesses. For example, they can be used to support the delivery of the Government Targets and other priorities that span multiple government agencies. They are also led by independent Lead Reviewers and are based on the System Performance Improvement Model.

The Programme provides independent, future-focused reviews to inform the strategic direction and performance of public service agencies. Reviews provide Ministers with an important lever to shape the long-term direction, focus and performance of their agencies, which helps position agencies to deliver on Government priorities. Reviews also aim to:

  • embed a culture of continuous improvement across the Public Service, and
  • provide useful insights to support wider shifts across the Public Service to lift its performance. 

Reviews are undertaken by highly experienced independent Lead Reviewers, who bring a strong understanding of the Public Service operating environment and how organisations can build capability to lift performance. Most are experienced former chief executives and/or governance leaders.

The Commission publishes final reports on its website and incorporates review findings and recommendations into chief executive and agency performance management. Clear action plans and implementation plans to address issues identified through the reviews are developed by the agency or system lead. The Commission undertakes regular monitoring and assurance to assess implementation progress. 

Ngā pātai me ngā whakautu Questions and Answers

  • How has the Performance Improvement Programme evolved over recent years?

    The Programme is an evolution of the Performance Improvement Framework that was introduced in 2009 as a core evaluative tool for the three central agencies. Reviews had a focus on continuous improvement and accountability for results.

    The Performance Improvement Framework has been updated several times over the years to reflect changes in emphasis and to incorporate lessons learned from similar review programmes overseas. Previous evaluations of the Performance Improvement Framework highlighted the value of reviews in supporting agencies to shape their strategic direction and grow capability over time – this is a key element we have continued to prioritise in our development of the Programme.

    In 2023, an updated version of the framework was developed under the name Capability Review Programme. It was piloted with three agencies (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Inland Revenue and Ministry of Transport).

    The current Performance Improvement Review Programme reflects the outcomes of the 2023 pilot, and the Government’s priority to deliver more efficient, effective and responsive public services.

  • Who are the Lead Reviewers?

    Each Review is led by two independent Lead Reviewers. Choosing two Lead Reviewers who complement each other, bring the skills and experience that best respond to the agency’s context, and who can work well with the agency’s senior leadership is key to ensuring a useful and insightful review.    

    All members of the Panel are highly experienced, with extensive leadership and organisational management experience. Some have previously been involved with Performance Improvement Framework reviews.

  • What is the benefit for the public?

    Effective and efficient public services require capable, high-performing agencies. Performance Improvement Reviews are designed to ensure that the Public Service is focused on the right things that will make a difference in responding to future challenges and able to take advantage of opportunities now and in the future. This will ensure that services and functions remain effective and responsive in an ever-changing context to meet the future needs of New Zealanders. 

  • What are the benefits for agencies?

    Performance Improvement Reviews provide Public Service leaders with an independent, forward-looking view of how well an agency or system is positioned to deliver on Government priorities and address future challenges. They aim to facilitate discussions around an agency’s desired future state, highlight organisational capability gaps that impact on its performance and identify opportunities to address them.  

    Reviews are an investment in long-term capability to support an agency or system’s ability to deliver the results and outcomes expected of it. Reviews are conducted working closely with agencies to complement existing initiatives within agencies and provide an independent evidence base for further targeted change. The insights from Performance Improvement Reviews provide chief executives with an external perspective to help shape the strategic direction and capability of their agencies, to support agencies to deliver on Government priorities.

Whakapā mai Contact us

Email: performance.improvement@publicservice.govt.nz if you'd like to know more about the Programme.