Annual Report cover 2013

Maintaining performance integrity

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

The Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team is made up of the Chief Executive, eight Deputy Chief Executives, the Director of the Chief Executive’s Office, and the Chief Policy Advisor. To lift our Ministry-wide direction and leadership to a more strategic level, we adjusted our governance arrangements in March 2013. These arrangements include:

  • Leadership Team Governance meetings, which focus on Ministry-wide strategic decision-making to ensure sufficiency, momentum and balance across the Ministry’s portfolios
  • Leadership Team Forum meetings, which focus on strategy and topical discussions to ensure the appropriate sequencing of activity through sharing operational and sectoral intelligence
  • Corporate Governance Committee meetings, which have delegated responsibilities from the Leadership Team for the oversight and governance of Ministry-wide corporate matters including all corporate services, business units and service lines.

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

Independent advisory committees

The Chief Executive is supported by the following advisory committees:

The Work and Income Board gives advice and expertise from outside the public sector to test and challenge our thinking as we carry out the Welfare Reform policy changes and introduce the Investment Approach. The Board gives assurance to Ministers on Work and Income’s performance, including the design, operation and delivery of the Investment Approach.

The Audit Committee gives independent advice on the Ministry’s risk framework and internal controls, including legislative compliance. It also focuses on our internal and external audit functions, financial reporting, other external reporting, and our governance framework and process. The Committee is chaired by one of its three external members.

The Value for Money Advisory Board gives advice and support to the Chief Executive on the Ministry’s Value for Money programme. It also focuses on opportunities to embed a culture of efficiency and value for money in our business-as-usual work. The Board is chaired by one of its three external members. One of these external members is a representative from the Treasury.

Ministry advisory committees

The Joint Policy Priority Projects Committee helps our Deputy Chief Executives to actively manage risks and monitor the progress and performance of key cross-Ministry policy projects.

The IT Strategy Group develops the Ministry’s information technology strategy and capital plan roadmap to support our overall priorities.

The Work and Income Board had two planning days and met 10 times during the year.

Monitoring the Investment Approach

The Treasury is the external monitor of Work and Income. As part of the new accountability arrangements for Welfare Reform, the Treasury reports quarterly to the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Social Development. This reporting includes the results of the new investment management process. It will keep Ministers informed about our performance in improving long-term employment outcomes and proposed changes in service delivery as we reprioritise our interventions.

Complaints, reviews and resolution of grievances

Historic claims

We are committed to resolving historic claims of abuse or maltreatment related to the State’s care of children or young people. We have agreed to provide a strategy to the Minister to bring all historic claims against the Ministry to a close by 31 December 2020.

At 30 June 2013, a total of 774 claims were current, compared to 694 at 30 June 2012.

In 2012/2013, the Historic Claims team received 189 new claims and resolved 109 claims.

Benefit Review Committees

Benefit Review Committees give clients the chance to review decisions that have been made about an application, income support or pension.

Of the 4,605 benefit decisions reviewed in 2012/2013, 28 per cent were referred to a Benefit Review Committee. Of the decisions referred to a committee, 83 per cent were upheld, 7 per cent were changed and 10 per cent were overturned. In 2011/2012, 4,303 decisions were reviewed. Of these 32 per cent were referred to Benefit Review Committees, which overturned 12 per cent of the referred decisions.

Child, Youth and Family complaints system

As part of the Children’s Action Plan, the Minister for Social Development commissioned an independent review of the complaints process relating to Child, Youth and Family. The report on the review was presented to the Minister in late June 2013. The report identified options for the future of our in-house complaints system. These options are being considered in 2013/2014.

Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel on Child, Youth and Family complaints

The Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel provides independent advice to the Chief Executive in relation to Child, Youth and Family complaints which have been unable to be resolved through Child, Youth and Family’s complaints process. The Panel is made up of independent members appointed for their credibility, community standing and professional reputation.

In 2012/2013, the Panel received 40 complaints and considered 12 of these. The Chief Executive accepted all the Panel’s recommendations on these complaints.

Improving performance management and measurement

The Ministry’s Performance Improvement Framework

A Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) is an independent review of an agency’s fitness for purpose, now and for the future. It looks at the current state of an agency and how well placed it is to deal with issues in the medium-term future. It gives an insight into areas where the agency needs to improve.

The State Services Commission carried out a follow-up PIF review in March 2013. The follow-up review gave us assurance that what we are doing is right and that we are focusing on the right areas. The reviewers noted that we are in a strong position to deliver on the Government’s priorities, thanks to committed people and leadership.

Our first PIF review in 2011 identified 14 actions for the Ministry. Of these, 13 had been completed by 30 June 2013.

Output Plan performance

In our Output Plan 2012/2013, we reported against 136 performance measures and achieved or exceeded the expected standard in 128 of these. Twenty-three measures exceeded their standards by more than five percentage points.

We have continued to strengthen 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 give advice on improving our performance framework. Through this process we developed 36 new performance measures for 2012/2013.

We work closely with Central Agencies to improve our outcomes framework and measurement systems.

Control and accountability

Our Risk and Assurance group gives advice and assurance to our Audit Committee, the Chief Executive and the Leadership Team. It focuses on the systems, processes and controls the Ministry relies on to deliver effective and efficient services to all New Zealanders.

Each year the group carries out an assurance, advisory and risk programme to evaluate and improve the Ministry’s risk management systems, controls and governance processes. This annual work programme is endorsed by the Audit Committee before the Chief Executive’s approval.

Risk management

Our risk management approach is well established. The Leadership Team regularly discusses strategic objectives, opportunities, risks and strategies to manage these across the Ministry. In 2012/2013, we reviewed our risk management approach. We put in place a comprehensive programme to further improve our approach and practices. The emphasis was on developing and communicating the Ministry’s risk appetite, and refreshing our staff members’ understanding of the risk framework, particularly the value of quality risk information to guide good decision-making.

Providing assurance

We carry out a risk-based, targeted assurance programme which includes:

  • a planned programme of assurance work to assess whether policies, procedures and control systems are well designed, fit for purpose and operating efficiently and effectively
  • a continuous assurance programme around controls to provide early warning about risk or non-compliance issues
  • a responsive programme to support key change and improvement initiatives.

Public Records Act Audit

During the year, Archives New Zealand audited our recordkeeping capability, practices, and risks in accordance with section 33 of the Public Records Act 2005. The audit showed we have high levels of maturity in recordkeeping, with a high-level improvement plan in place.

Complying with our legal obligations

Our Legal Services team works with managers throughout the Ministry to ensure our internal policies meet legislative requirements. The team also works with business groups to make sure our staff are aware of our legal requirements and can identify legal risk.

This work is backed by the ongoing monitoring of all policies against legal requirements. Business groups complete legislation compliance checks each year.

Maintaining the integrity of our service

Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct provides all our staff members with guidelines and expectations about conduct that will not be tolerated, and the consequences of not meeting expectations.

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 members include dismissal and referral to the Police. In addition to any penalty the court may impose, any money fraudulently obtained must be repaid in full.

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

Security and privacy

In 2012, there was a security breach with our Work and Income kiosk network. Following the breach, the Chief Executive commissioned two independent reviews by Deloitte. The reviews found there was no systemic problem, but made a range of recommendations for improvement. We are now operating with a much greater awareness of the responsible and professional management of privacy and information security.

We have committed to a broad programme of work to embed best practice and to integrate information security into strategic planning. We recruited a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to provide a single point of responsibility for driving information security activity. The CISO is responsible for establishing and maintaining a Ministry-wide information security framework to protect, control and secure our information assets. This includes establishing policies, processes and recommended resourcing.

Security and Integrity Steering Group and work programme

In early 2013, we established a Security and Integrity Steering Group. The group reports to the Ministry’s Leadership Team on all of the Ministry’s protective security measures, including:

  • people security, including employee screening, internal fraud and Code of Conduct-related issues
  • property and asset security, including security guards
  • information security, including paper-based systems and electronic information access controls and defences.

This year, we developed a Safe Information Safe Staff programme with more than 80 initiatives. So far we have:

  • established a cyber-security standards framework
  • hosted a range of staff education activities during Cyber Security Awareness Week in May 2013
  • developed content for an IT e-learning module to make sure staff members stay aware of IT security in the workplace.

We updated our governance structures to gain clear ownership and oversight of security at an executive level, with the Security and Integrity Governance Committee reporting to our Leadership Team.

The Group provides oversight, direction and managerial support on security and integrity matters.

Managing money owed to the Crown

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

  • Recoverable Assistance Loans for essential items such as school uniforms or washing machines. This year we granted $143 million to clients, which makes up less than 1 per cent of the total benefit spend. The total balance owed is $414 million. Clients repaid $131 million over the year.
  • Overpayments can occur when we are told about changes to a client’s circumstances after a payment has been made. This year, we established $203 million in overpayments, which makes up just over 1 per cent of the total benefit spend. We recovered $142 million of overpayments in the year.

The cost of collecting each dollar recovered from former clients and non-beneficiaries was $0.17.

Annual Report cover 2013

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