HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 591: 23 November 2011

Review report recommends just 8 government Ministries
Right now, over 16 percent of the country’s workers hold a government job. If government implements the recommendations of the PSC review just completed, it will see the biggest changes to the public service as we know it, since 1996. The changes however are expected to be gradual, the process of adjustment taking until June 2013.
On Wednesday morning at an urgent Cabinet meeting prior to the Prime Minister departing for overseas, Cabinet received for consideration the final report from the ADB Consultants on the technical Assistance Project which reviewed Public Finance Management and Public Sector Performance.
If the review recommendations are accepted, the following benefits are expected;
1. Closer alignment of organizational structures to national development objectives and legal mandates;
2. Ministry performance focused to manage on results achieved; and
3. Potential cost savings of approximately $8 million with certain services being shared, Crown agencies, outer islands empowerment, SOE management and exit strategies.
Essentially it was a Functional Analysis Report and it was prepared by Lyn Yeoman and William Numanga. It was prepared for the Public Service Commission.
It is a massive, detailed report 222 pages long.
The purpose of the review, put simply, was to assist government improve its performance through re-defining its priorities and reviewing its functions.
In all, 186 separate functions were identified, analyzed then grouped according to whether they should be continued to be done by government, put to public/private sector partnership, contracted out or stopped unless market forces determine the need for the function.
The report recommends restructuring government activities into 8 distinct sectors which are;
1. Governance
2. Finance and Revenue management
3. Environment, Energy and Climate
4. Infrastructure, Transport and Communications
5. Law and Justice
6. Health and Social Services
7. Education, Culture and Sports
8. Economic Development.
It comes as no surprise that these sectors align with the policy direction promoted in the Cook Islands Party’s 2010 election manifesto.
To achieve alignment into these sectors, the report recommends crunching 12 Ministries down to just eight and amalgamating core and complimentary functions. The eight new Ministries are set out below.
1. Education, Culture and Sport
2. Economic Development
3. Environment, Energy and Climate Change
4. Finance and Review Management
5. Foreign Affairs
6. Health and Social Services
7. Infrastructure, Transport and Communications
8. Justice.
The new sector called Economic Development will provide impetus for economic growth in the short to medium term. The long term view however, is that all economic development activities be transferred to the private sector.
Certain functions will transfer to this new sector. They include the BTIB, Pearl Authority, Tourism, Marine Resources, Agriculture and Financial Services Development Authority.
Health and Social services will absorb Internal Affairs.
Justice will absorb the Immigration Service.
There is a recommendation to privatize the National Super Fund.
The report also recommends reducing 20 Crown and Constitutional Agencies down to 10. These are; Audit, Crown Law, Head of State, Financial Supervisory Commission, Parliamentary Services, Police, OPM PSC, Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Ombudsman.
Ministerial Support Offices will come under Parliamentary Services.
The recommendations include;
1. Government focusing on core businesses only;
2. Government forming partnerships with the private sector;
3. Crown agencies to include only those required by the Constitution and demanded by International treaties;
4. Establishment of a PSC Board and also Secretariat;
5. Job sizing be undertaken.
In regard to implementation of the recommendations, government has been mindful from the outset of the lessons learned from the fallout of the 1996 exercise.
It appears the preference is for a managed change process implemented by a specially appointed project manager and underpinned by an effective communications strategy as opposed to a “big bang” where radical change comes suddenly. So it is likely those changes which can be made quickly will be done quickly while other changes will take longer.
The review has come up with a time line for changes and recommends all actions be attended to by June 2013.
At the end of the day, and in the cold light of day, the bottom line for many public servants, especially those in the outer islands, will be the question, “Am I still going to have a job?”
The next three years are going to be tough economically. This is a view expressed recently on NZTV by NZ Prime Minister John Key. - Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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