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NZ public sector is among least corrupt in the world but is its performance up to scratch?

A seminar in April will explore high performance in the public sector. Organised by Victoria University of Wellington’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work, the seminar follows the Productivity Commission’s recent inquiry into regulatory institutions and practices, and its current inquiry into more effective public services, due in April as a draft report. 

NZ’s public sector is one of the best in the world, based around perception on corruption. The Transparency International ranked NZ as having the second least corrupt country in the world in 2014, the top position being held by Denmark. The world’s most corrupt countries are Somalia, followed by North Korea.


What are the key deliverables set by the government for the public sector? According to the State Services Commission (SSC) the overseer of all things public, some of these include reducing welfare dependency and improving skills and employment of Kiwis.

Some of the challenges around managing performance of the public sector is how to set target and performance metrics given the difference from private sector’s profit-oriented metrics. The US Congress, for instance, requires government agencies to have strategic plans and performance measurement plans to measure how successful the strategic plans are, according to Paul Arveson, writing for the Balanced Scorecard Institute.

The SSC in NZ has some snapshots of targets set and an indication of how the public sector’s performance is measured. Check their website. SSC introduced, a few years ago, a performance improvement framework to measure and improve public sector services.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), for instance has as its mission to ‘grow New Zealand for all’. Its primary target is to increase New Zealanders’ real household income by 40% by 2025. MBIE’s supporting targets relate to doubling labour productivity growth, increasing the exports to GDP ratio, reducing unemployment and making housing more affordable. Check out a December 2014 report on how it has been rated.

Video on what’s different about public sector performance management?

“Much has been written about poor performance and behaviour in our public sector organisations,” says Dr Geoff Plimmer from Victoria Business School, who will be presenting at the seminar. “This seminar aims to move the discussion from one focused on the drivers and impacts of these bad behaviours to one of meaningful and workable solutions.”

The seminar will bring together senior executives, employment relations practitioners and researchers to discuss strategies and tactics for improving performance and the role of leadership in this process.

Presenters include:

Murray Sherwin—Chairperson, Productivity Commission

Richard Wagstaff—National Secretary, Public Service association

Ginny Baddeley—Director, Leadership and Capability Development, State Services Commission

Dr Geoff Plimmer—Lead Researcher of the 2013 Public Service Workplace Dynamics Survey (with the PSA), Victoria University

Jeanie Truell—Chief People Officer, People and Culture, Inland Revenue

Colin MacDonald—CEO, Department of Internal Affairs

Professor Peter Gahan—Director, Centre for Workplace Leadership, Melbourne University

When: Tuesday April 14, 2015, 9am–1pm

Where: Old Government Buildings, Lecture Theatre 1, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University of Wellington

Cost: $150

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