Annual report 2011 mandatory image

Maintaining performance integrity

Integrity is at the core of how we work and it is vital that the people of New Zealand have trust and confidence in the integrity of our staff and the services that we deliver.

The Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team is made up of our Chief Executive and nine Deputy Chief Executives. The Leadership Team provides Ministry-wide direction and leadership. In 2011/2012, we adjusted our governance arrangements to reflect new Leadership Team requirements. These arrangements consist of:

  • Leadership Team Business meetings are held up to three times a month and focus on strategic issues
  • Leadership Team Board meetings are held once a month and provide Ministry-wide governance with a focus on monitoring organisational performance, capability and risk
  • Leadership Team Strategy meetings are held once a month and provide Ministry-wide governance with a focus on longer-term strategic issues and direction.

The Leadership Team meets weekly to discuss Ministry-wide issues.

Advisory Committees

Our Chief Executive is also supported by advisory committees. These committees are the:

Independent advisory committees

  • Work and Income Board, which provides expertise and support from outside the public service on the implementation of the welfare reform Investment Approach. The Board was established in April 2012 and reports on Work and Income’s performance to the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Social Development
  • Audit Committee, which provides independent advice on our risk framework and internal controls (including legislative compliance), on our internal and external audit functions, financial and other external reporting, and on our governance framework and process. The Committee is chaired by one of the three external members
  • Value for Money Advisory Board, which provides advice and support on the implementation of our Value for Money work programme. The Board meets formally five times a year and is chaired by one of the three external members. One of these external members is a representative from the Treasury.

Ministry advisory committees

  • Joint Policy Priority Projects Committee, which provides a forum for our Deputy Chief Executives to monitor deliverables and to actively manage risks/issues on cross-Ministry policy and implementation projects
  • IT Strategy Group, which develops the Ministry’s information technology strategy and capital plan roadmap to support the Ministry’s overall business priorities.

The Work and Income Board has six members and is chaired by Paula Rebstock.

Complaints, Reviews and Resolution of Grievances

We provide ways for clients to get timely reviews of decisions that have been made about them and ways for the Ministry to investigate and resolve concerns raised by people who have been in our direct care or custody or who have received our services.

The Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel on Child, Youth and Family Complaints provides advice on complaints Child, Youth and Family has not been able to resolve through its own internal complaints process. The Panel is made up of independent experts who are respected in the community. In 2011/2012, the Panel heard 10 complaints. The Chief Executive accepted all of the Panel’s recommendations.

We have collaborated with the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education to help more than 1,000 people rebuild their lives after being mistreated while they were children in state care. In 2011/2012, our Care Claims and Resolution Team resolved or made offers of compensation on 118 historic claims of abuse and neglect. This is in line with the previous year.

The Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ), at its Public Sector Excellence Awards in June 2012, acknowledged this successful collaboration with its award in the category of Working Together for Better Government and with its Supreme Award.

Of the 4,303 benefit decisions reviewed in 2011/2012, 32 per cent were referred to an external Benefit Review Committee. Of the decisions referred to a committee, 82 per cent were upheld, 6 per cent were changed and 12 per cent were overturned.

All our complaint, review and appeal processes are either operated or monitored from outside our service lines.

Improving performance management and measurement

In 2011/2012, of the 100 performance measures we reported against, we achieved or exceeded the expected standard in 97 cases. Seventeen of our measures exceeded their standards by more than 5 per cent.

We continue to focus on strengthening our performance framework. Each year we run a Ministry-wide review and invite the Treasury, the State Services Commission, the Office of the Auditor-General and Audit New Zealand to provide advice on improving our performance framework. Through this process we developed an additional 14 performance measures for 2011/2012.

We work closely with Audit New Zealand and the Treasury to improve our outcome framework and measurement systems.

Control and accountability

Providing assurance

Our Risk and Assurance group provides independent assurance, advice and support to the Audit Committee, the Chief Executive and the Leadership Team on the systems, processes and controls we rely on to deliver effective and efficient services to all New Zealanders.

The group undertakes a programme of assurance and advisory activity to evaluate and improve risk management, controls and governance processes in the Ministry.

The Total Assurance Plan provides assurance that our network of risk management activities, controls and governance is adequate and is functioning effectively.

Risk management

Our risk management approach is well established. The culture-based approach builds on international best practice guidelines and was given a strong rating in the State Services Commission’s 2011 Performance Improvement Framework review of the Ministry.

The Chief Executive and the Leadership Team regularly engage in discussions about strategic objectives, opportunities and risks, and the appropriate strategies to manage them across the Ministry.

Our risk programme ensures our risk management activities are linked to performance and the achievement of our outcomes and strategic objectives. This includes consistent and robust challenge and analysis of risks, controls and mitigation strategies at all levels to highlight opportunities and gaps.

In 2011/2012, we identified opportunities to enhance the Ministry’s approach and to further improve the quality, consistency, and maturity levels of our risk management practices. The Risk and Assurance group will support the Leadership Team to implement these enhancements in 2012/2013.

Complying with our legal obligations

Our Legal Services team works with managers to ensure our internal policies properly reflect the law. The team also works with business areas to ensure our staff are aware of our legal requirements and are able to identify legal risk. This complements our wider risk management approach.

These components are backed by a rolling programme to systematically check all policies against underlying legal requirements. Business groups also complete legislation compliance checks.

Maintaining the integrity of our service

Code of Conduct

In July 2011, we launched the new Code of Conduct, replacing the two separate Codes that have been in use since Child, Youth and Family joined the Ministry in July 2006. The Code of Conduct provides staff with guidelines and expectations about conduct that will not be tolerated, and the consequences of not meeting those expectations.

Because of our role, we have a zero-tolerance approach to the misuse of personal information. This includes the deliberate and unauthorised release of sensitive information to third parties and for pecuniary gain. The consequences for staff include dismissal and referral to the Police. In addition to any penalty the Court may impose, if any money has been fraudulently obtained, it must be repaid in full.

In March 2012, we held an Integrity Week with a spotlight on information security. The week helped to raise awareness of information risks and to prompt staff to think about their role in maintaining information security. We developed tools and resources, including a number of scenario cards that proved useful in generating discussion around expected behaviours, risks and obligations.

The Code of Conduct emphasises the four key standards for staff – fairness, impartiality, responsibility and trustworthiness.


In 2011/2012, we completed 742 benefit fraud prosecutions, of which 96 per cent (714) were successful, compared to 95 per cent in 2010/2011.

During the year we established over $23 million of fraud debt and we recovered over $2 million. The total balance of fraud debt owed to the Crown is over $106 million.

Where we find evidence of fraud, we prosecute.

Information sharing

There are currently nine different data matches with six different government agencies. The primary purpose of information matching is to ensure people receive their correct entitlement to assistance. In the past three years we have increased the number of data match checks on clients by 250 per cent. In 2012, we will be establishing an information sharing agreement with Inland Revenue.

We match information with other agencies to identify clients who may be receiving benefits/allowances to which they are no longer entitled.

Managing money owed to the Crown

In addition to fraud, other types of money owed to the Crown by our clients relate to:

  • Recoverable Assistance Loans, which are for essential items such as school uniforms or washing machines. This year we granted loans totaling $147 million, which makes up less than 1 per cent of the total benefit spend. The total balance owed is over $407 million and clients repaid almost $147 million over the year
  • Overpayments, which can occur because we are told about changes to a client’s circumstances after a payment has been made. This year we established overpayments of approximately $208 million, which makes up just over 1 per cent of the total benefit spend. We also recovered overpayments of just under $140 million over the year. Information-sharing arrangements with Inland Revenue will help us to correct benefit payments more quickly.

In 2011/2012, the cost of collecting money owed from former clients and non-beneficiaries was $0.17 for each dollar collected. Around half of all money owed by former clients is less than one year old.

The Recoverable Assistance programme provides recoverable assistance to non-beneficiaries to meet essential immediate needs.

Annual report 2011 mandatory image

Related links

Print this page.