Annual report 2011 mandatory image

Organisational health and capability

Our success depends on people with the right skills, abilities and commitment.
It also depends on us constantly pursuing improvements in practice, performance, effectiveness and efficiencies. Only when all these factors are in place can we consistently deliver the desired outcomes for our clients and for government.

Value for Money

Since 2006, our Value for Money programme has helped us achieve efficiency savings of $255 million. We have developed plans for a further $211 million in savings over the four years to 2013/2014. We are currently extending these plans to 2014/2015.

In early 2010, we undertook a Value for Money review of our contracted services’ spending. This identified savings of approximately $44 million which were reprioritised in the 2010 Budget for expenditure over 2010/2011.

We have transformed the way we support clients while delivering annual efficiency and productivity gains of two to three per cent per annum, or $20 million to $30 million every fiscal year. Examples of efficiencies included:

  • extending e-channels for clients. In 2010, 99 per cent of Student Allowance applications and 98 per cent of Student Loan applications were completed online
  • reducing input costs, such as travel, office consumables and utility costs through smarter procurement
  • the renegotiation of Telco services
  • clustering of print services, formed by the Ministry and seven other agencies, which has achieved cost savings of 15 per cent across the group.

In March 2011, we were awarded the 2011 Project Initiative of the Year at the annual Fairfax Media CFO Awards for our Value for Money programme. The judges commented that the programme “delivers increased value for money from public services and supports the Government in managing its fiscal pressures”.

The cost of administering Student Loans has more than halved in the past 10 years.

Service delivery across whole of government

The Ministry, Inland Revenue and the Department of Internal Affairs have established the Service Transformation programme to drive a more efficient and effective approach to service delivery. The programme initiatives have been agreed and several are in the early stages of development. These include:

  • the development of an online, single point of access, across government service delivery that, when completed, will allow clients to manage and update their contact details across multiple agencies
  • the roll-out of the i-govt logon across the Ministry and Inland Revenue
  • the improvement of services for Student Loan customers
  • the testing of integrated service delivery in Christchurch
  • the streamlining of delivery and information sharing for Working for Families.

The programme will also lead the development of best practice service delivery technology and processes through a common standards approach.

Gains from sharing information and streamlining customer interactions across agency boundaries are largely untapped.

Our technology

Information technology trends continue to rapidly push technological, societal, and business boundaries. We are focused on harnessing technology to drive innovative approaches and the delivery of future business strategies.

The majority of our modern business practices are underpinned by technology. We support over 200 systems which include the provision of payment and services to approximately 1.1 million clients via secure, robust and scalable systems, and a nationwide network.

The main systems include:

  • SWIFTT (Social Welfare Information for Tomorrow Today) – our main benefit payment system which reports around 1.2 million transactions each day. It was implemented in 1991 and was re-platformed onto a modern operating environment in 2009.
  • Cúram – our client management system which is provided by Cúram Software, an Irish company that specialises in Social Enterprise Management (SEM) software solutions. Cúram has been our strategic partner since 2006.
  • CYRAS – the Child, Youth and Family case management system which holds information to support social workers.
  • SAL (Student Applications and Loans) – the system (introduced in 2000) which enables students applying for Student Allowance to be assessed and paid.

We have a strong record in successful IT investment and delivery. Since 2001, over 180 individual IT projects, worth over $300 million, have been delivered successfully. As well, our key IT investments have laid a platform for strategic delivery, such as deploying Cúram, moving SWIFTT off the mainframe to a modern environment, upgrading the entire telecommunications infrastructure, implementing sophisticated web and voice services, and building a world class data warehouse (IAP). We have also upgraded our Human Resources Information System. We successfully went live with our new system on 23 May 2011.

In 2010/2011, our payment systems processed over 45 million transactions totalling $16 billion. Our contact centres received over 13.5 million calls.

Our People

We have 9,500 employees, around 21 per cent of the public service. Around 80 per cent of our staff deliver frontline services. The workforce is diverse and reflects the client population we serve and the diversity of New Zealand society.

In 2010, 65 per cent of the Ministry’s managers were women, compared to 46 per cent of the public service. There were 17 per cent more senior women managers in the Ministry, than in the overall public service.

Through our network of 300 locations, the Ministry has a presence in nearly every community in New Zealand.

Organisational health and capability chart

Engaged staff are productive staff. To maintain staff engagement over 2010/2011, the managers across the Ministry have implemented engagement action plans. The Ministry will complete its third Gallup engagement survey in March 2012.

Developing our leaders

We used a wide range of development opportunities in 2010/2011 to build our leadership capability including:

  • Leadership Cascade which ensures that the Ministry’s top talent is identified and given opportunities to develop. The Leadership Cascade was recognised at the 2010 Institute of Public Administration New Zealand Awards for Improving Performance through Leadership Excellence.
  • Managing the Context which provided over 150 staff with the opportunity to live ‘a day in the life of a Chief Executive’ and experience the pressures of leadership at the highest level in a safe but realistic environment. This was recognised at the 2011 Institute of Public Administration New Zealand awards for Improving Performance through Leadership Excellence.
  • The National Leaders Summit which brought together 150 of our senior leaders for a full-day event focused on building a better Ministry through leadership.
  • Women Leaders’ Development Forum which supported 112 women across the Ministry and the Ministry of Justice to focus on career development and the latest management research.
  • Te Aratiatia programme which supported 13 Māori and Pacific
  • high-performing staff with training to support their potential to move into their first management or leadership role. Since 2002, over 100 Māori and Pacific staff have graduated from Te Aratiatia.
  • Te Aka Matua programme which supported six Pacific and Māori managers who will complete their second year of a three-year programme leading to a masters degree in Public Policy from Victoria University of Wellington.

The Ministry needs capable leaders at every level who have strong technical leadership in their area of expertise and an ability to create high-performing teams.

Developing specialist expertise

The Ministry’s wide range of responsibilities requires us to have staff who are experts in their chosen fields.

Social workers

By 30 June 2011, 989 Child, Youth and Family staff were registered social workers and a further 132 social workers had achieved competency, a pre-requisite to registration. A further 273 social workers were working towards competency, and 67 social workers were working towards a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in social work.

The Ministry has a professionalisation programme to assist social workers in Child, Youth and Family to become qualified and registered.

Case management

Over the past year, 392 Work and Income staff have been studying for New Zealand Qualification Authority qualifications through the in-house facilitation and assessment process. The four national certificates include Public Sector Services, Employment Support, Contact Centre Operations and First Line Management.

Over 2,300 Work and Income staff have graduated with national certificate qualifications since the programme was set up six years ago. This includes 200 Modern Apprentices who have come through the Work and Income Cadet Scheme.

Other training during 2010/2011 included 737 in-house workshops for practice staff and managers. Four Safe Strong Practice programme workshops were completed by 1,273 practicing staff from Child, Youth and Family.

Our Integrity Services staff have also been part of the cross-sectoral team to develop compliance qualifications for all collections staff.

Policy advice

In 2010/2011, we contributed to the review of policy advice and we are working with The Treasury to develop a response including policy benchmarking and the realignment of policy appropriations. In line with the review, we established a Chief Policy Advisor to support professional development within our policy cluster. This position champions best practice, professional leadership, mentoring and quality assurance.

In 2010/2011, Graeme Scott published Improving the Quality and Value of Policy Advice, a review of policy advice across the public sector.

Lean Six Sigma

We have the highest number of trained staff in the public sector, with over 400 staff with some level of technical training in this methodology. The Ministry has five staff who have completed level two technical training, the first successful trainees in the New Zealand public sector. We also have 48 staff trained to level three competency.

Government Property Management Centre of Expertise

In April 2011, we set up the Government Property Management Centre of Expertise to provide a central point for the sharing of best practice, resources and facilities across the public sector. We will continue to build our expertise in the area, with a focus of cost savings across the sector in 2011/2012.


In May 2011, we appointed a Chief Procurement Officer and centralised the corporate procurement functions. We are currently carrying out a spend, contract and supplier analysis to target a series of value creation projects. We are also targeting our vendor engagement strategies to ensure we get better value out of our key suppliers.

Looking after each other

Employee participation in health and safety

The Ministry has agreements with the Public Service Association and the National Union of Public Employees for employee participation in health and safety matters. These agreements were renewed in March 2011.

The Ministry continues its commitment to promoting excellence in the management of health and safety in the workplace for all its employees.

Accident Compensation Corporation Partnership programme

We achieved Secondary Level accreditation in the annual audit in early October 2010. This means, as part of the Accident Compensation Corporation Partnership programme, we receive significant discounts on levies in exchange for taking responsibility for our employees’ work injury claims.


While delivering services to our clients, we were mindful of the effects of the earthquakes on our own staff – those in Canterbury as well as the many staff who relocated to Canterbury to relieve their colleagues. Managers were coached on support skills, and staff were encouraged to get the help they needed either from their managers, the Ministry’s Employee Assistance Programme or the Ministry 0800 staff helpline.

We acknowledge the long hours in difficult conditions our staff worked to help others after the earthquakes.

Making it easier for our staff to give

Our Payroll Giving scheme enables staff to make automatic donations through the payroll system to their chosen charities. This has included the Pike River mining disaster, the Japanese Tsunami and the Christchurch Earthquake appeals. We have more than 4,000 donee organisations that can be supported through the scheme, including 2,467 schools. We have also helped other public and private sector organisations to set up similar schemes.

Working together better

Public Service Association

We have a strong Public Service Association union base with more than 6,000 members across the Ministry, including 500 delegates.

We have an ongoing programme of engagement with the Public Service Association. We review the effectiveness of the agreement at least every two years. We also consult with the Public Service Association during the development of our key accountability documents, including the Statement of Intent and the Annual Report.

The Ministry and the Public Service Association have a number of joint working groups stemming from the 2010 Agreement for Modern, Innovative and Productive Public Services.

Collective agreements

Across the Ministry, we have more than 6,400 staff on six separate collective employment agreements. Three collective agreements were successfully renegotiated and settled in 2010. These were:

  • National Office and Ministry of Youth Development Collective Agreement
  • Work and Income and Students, Seniors and Integrity Services
  • Collective Agreement
  • Work and Income Northland Staff (WINS) Collective Agreement.

Performance Improvement Framework

As part of the central agencies’ Performance Improvement Framework, three external reviewers found that the Ministry:

  • does an outstanding job at getting people off an unemployment benefit and into work
  • has provided good cross-sector leadership on social policy issues
  • is well governed and uses an approach that provides strong controls at the centre and significant autonomy at the local level
  • is exemplary at managing risk and, in particular, reducing the extent the media distract the organisation from its work.

The reviewers suggested increasing support for cross-sectoral policy and evaluation teams would contribute to more effective whole-of-government outcomes.

They also recommended continuing our focus on long-term beneficiaries, enhancing Child, Youth and Family’s practices and setting up an ICT advisory board with outside experts. These are all in the process of development.

In 2010/2011, the reviewers for the Performance Improvement Framework found the Ministry was extremely agile despite its size.

Annual report 2011 mandatory image

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