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Our purpose and greatest imaginable challenge

Our purpose is to ensure our transport system helps New Zealand thrive. In pursuit of fulfilling this purpose, the Ministry’s greatest imaginable challenge is to ‘create the environment to double the value from transport initiatives’. This means leading sector-thinking and identifying the big issues and actions that will result in significant progress for New Zealand’s transport system.

Performance improvement framework (PIF) Review

The Ministry went through a PIF review in early 2013. The review measured the Ministry’s performance against the aspirations reflected in our purpose and chiefly the greatest imaginable challenge.

Report outcomes

The PIF reviewers noted that the Ministry has made significant progress in the past few years, but still has some distance to go in order to meet our challenge to ‘create the environment to double the value from transport initiatives’. The PIF review outcomes below are measured against this aspiration.

Delivery of government priorities

Better quality regulation

Well placed

Opening markets

Well placed

Investment in infrastructure

Needing development

Safer transport system

Strong

Delivery of core business

Better quality regulation (effectiveness)

Needing development

Better quality regulation (efficiency)

Needing development

Open and efficient transport markets (effectiveness)

Weak

Open and efficient transport markets (efficiency)

Needing development

Improved planning and investment in infrastructure and services (effectiveness)

Needing development

Improved planning and investment in infrastructure and services (efficiency)

Needing development

Fewer transport incidents and other harms (effectiveness)

Well placed

Fewer transport incidents and other harms (efficiency)

Needing development

Improved government transport agencies’ performance (effectiveness)

Needing development

Improved government transport agencies’ performance (efficiency)

Needing development

Improved preparedness (effectiveness)

Well placed

Improved preparedness (efficiency)

Well placed

Regulatory impact (effectiveness)

Needing development

Organisational development

Purpose, vision and strategy

Needing development

Leadership and governance

Needing development

Values, behaviour and culture

Well placed

Structure, roles and responsibilities

Well placed

Review

Weak

Organisational management

Engagement with the Minister(s)

Well placed

Sector contribution

Needing development

Collaboration and partnerships with stakeholders

Needing development

Experiences of the public

Well placed

People development

Leadership and workforce development

Needing development

Management of people performance

Well placed

Engagement with staff

Well placed

Financial and resource management

Asset management

Well placed

Information management

Needing development

Improving efficiency and effectiveness

Well placed

Financial management

Needing development

Risk management

Needing development

Shaping our future

In response to the PIF review, the Ministry identified the following three challenges:

  • lifting our strategic focus

  • improving the quality and consistency of our policy advice

  • engaging more effectively with stakeholders.

These challenges are consistent with the three organisational priorities the Ministry had already set itself in early 2013 as part of the Shaping our Future organisational capability programme. The PIF recommendations have been incorporated into this programme, and the Ministry has developed a two-year plan which sets out the actions we will take to address the challenges set by the review. The key elements of this plan are outlined below.

Organisational capability

The Ministry adopted a matrix management model and began operating as a professional services ministry in 2009. We are now able to respond to the demands of changing priorities by operating far more flexibly.

In order to respond to the challenges identified in the PIF review, we must continue to build capability at all levels of the organisation: governance, strategic policy, policy advice and the development of staff throughout the Ministry.

Leading Together

In 2012 we delivered a Lifting our Leadership programme for managers at the Ministry. This work will continue in 2013/14. Improving leadership skills at the Ministry contributes to the call for stronger leadership across the public sector, as highlighted in the Better Public Services Report.

Embedding our purpose and philosophy

Throughout 2012/13, the Ministry placed a strong focus on ensuring staff continued to demonstrate and strengthen the behaviours that were developed as part of the Ministry’s purpose and philosophy in early 2012. The Ministry’s policy focus is shifting to ensure our programmes of work are geared towards achieving our greatest imaginable challenge.

Improving the quality of our advice

The Ministry has continued to improve the quality of its advice by building on and sharing its knowledge base. We are promoting increased use of business and analytical tools and frameworks to assist in developing rigorous and timely advice. This has been reflected in the improved scores from the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER). NZIER carries out an annual review of the quality of policy advice. The Ministry has improved from a score of 6.5 (out of 10) in 2008, to 7.3 in 2013, which shows it is tracking in the right direction. Ten percent of our papers scored a 9 in 2013, which is an exceptionally good result.

Other ways the Ministry has improved the quality of its policy advice include:

  • ensuring consistent and targeted development for policy advisers through the Applied Policy Adviser Development programme. This is a recognised qualification developed by the Ministry in partnership with the Victoria University School of Government

  • establishing a different approach to recruiting high calibre staff. This has involved extensive testing to establish a candidate’s suitability for the Ministry.

Staff engagement

Staff engagement is a good indicator of the health of an organisation. The Ministry takes part in the annual Gallup engagement survey to measure levels of engagement in order to create a stronger workplace. The Ministry’s engagement levels are significantly improving, with the 2013 results showing engaged employees now outnumber actively disengaged employees by 5:1. Our overall engagement score has improved from 3.86 last year to 3.98 this year.

Shared services across the transport sector

The Ministry has continued to lead the development of shared services across the transport sector, in order to deliver cost savings in the delivery of common functions, and to increase the effectiveness of the sector working together. Work is being carried out collaboratively and incrementally, addressing opportunities as they arise. Shared opportunities that we are working on range from small areas, such as payroll services, to significant activities, for example, joining our Information and Communications Technology services together.

The Ministry is primarily working with the NZ Transport Agency, Maritime NZ and Civil Aviation Authority on shared services. Auckland Transport and MetService are also working with us on some functions. We expect that other transport sector State-owned enterprises will join workstreams as appropriate.

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