Prime Minister John Key has announced a new results driver focus for public services.
The public service will be set challenges and will be accountable for achieving them.
So I have identified 10 challenging results that I want to see achieved over the next three to five years.
Achieving these results will be difficult and demanding. In fact for some of them it will be extremely difficult.
But I make no apology for my high expectations.
I came into politics to make a difference.
And it is time for a clear focus on what will make New Zealand a better place.
Most public servants are skilled people who should be capable of meeting high expectations and get a lot more work-satisfaction by doing so.
The challenging results are:
Number one – I expect a reduction in long-term welfare dependency. In particular I want to see a significant drop in the number of people who have been on a benefit for more than 12 months. At the moment about 215,000 people are in that category, and that’s far too many.
Number two – I expect to see more young children, and particularly Maori and Pacific children, in early childhood education. That’s because all the evidence shows that time spent in early childhood education helps future learning.
Number three – I expect immunisation rates for infants to increase, and I want to see a substantial reduction in rheumatic fever cases among children. These are important health issues for children and were part of our policy at the last election.
Number four – I expect a reduction in the number of assaults on children. Far too many children in New Zealand suffer abuse and assault, and that is simply not acceptable.
Number five – I expect more young people to come through the education system with a solid base of skills, whether they get those at school or at a tertiary institution. So I want to see an increase in the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or an equivalent qualification. Good progress has been made in this area over the last few years, but I want to see even more.
Number six – I expect to see a more skilled workforce, with an increase in the number of people coming through with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees.
Number seven – I expect a reduction in the crime rate. And that doesn’t just mean total crime, it also means violent crime and it means youth crime. I want to see all these measures coming down.
Number eight – I expect a reduction in the rate of re-offending, from people who are in prison or serving a community-based sentence.
I also want to change the way government interacts with people and businesses.
Doing business with government, and getting information from government, should be easy.
We live in a world of social media, online sales, internet banking and apps for almost everything.
But the advances we see in the private sector – the sort people have come to expect – have not been picked up well by the public sector.
Part of that is technical. I’ve actually been shocked at how obsolete many public sector IT systems are, and how big the challenge will be to upgrade and modernise them.
The Government is already investing heavily in this area, as we are with ultra-fast broadband, and that will continue to ramp up over the next few years.
But we don’t want to just tack new technology onto current business practices.
We are serious about creating a sharper sense of purpose, and that involves maximising the use of technology to provide better and faster services.
I want to see technology used to create a step-change in customer service.
So in addition to the eight results I’ve just mentioned, I want to see two more things.
Number nine – I expect to see a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support that businesses need.
And number ten – I expect to see transactions with government completed easily in a digital environment.
So those are my 10 expectations.
They are not a wish list – they are a to-do list.
They are not everything the Government is doing, or everything the Government thinks is important.
But they are a set of results where I want to see real progress. . .
These are challenging targets which will mean a change in the way the public service operates.
Many of the results fall between or across the responsibilities of individual government departments. That’s part of the reason they are difficult.
So achieving these results means changing the way the public sector works.
It means, for example, making people accountable for achieving something, not just for managing a department or agency.
And it means giving public sector leaders more flexibility to operate in different ways.
. . . But I don’t want easy targets. I want targets that are going to stretch the ability of the public sector to deliver them, and that are going to force change.
Because if they are easy targets they aren’t worth doing.
This is not an exercise in ticking boxes.
The targets will be signed off and announced by 30 June, and we will be regularly measuring progress against them.
This information will be publicly available, so New Zealanders will be able to judge for themselves how well we are doing.
The public service has been set a tough challenge but a necessary one if our economy is going to grow to provide the first world lifestyle for which we’ve borrowed too much in the past.
Other changes announced are reducing the cap on government administration and the establishment of a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to replace the Ministry he Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, Ministry of Science and Innovation and Department of Building and Housing.