New targets for NZ after success with Better Public Service Results

By David Donaldson

May 4, 2017

New Zealand has announced 10 new targets for the second incarnation of its successful Better Public Service Results program.

The approach involves pinpointing 10 key, quantified targets for the whole of government that are carefully chosen to make a significant impact on the lives of citizens, and disadvantaged communities in particular.

This clearly defined outcomes focus, the five-year timeframe and a commitment by government to holding executives accountable for performance all push agencies to work together in ways that are often difficult to achieve in silos.

The new targets follow the recent completion of the first five-year period, where there were dramatic improvements for all 10 results, despite some targets not being reached.

The number of infants not receiving vaccinations fell by two-thirds, for example. Other problems were cut in half, such as the number of children not enrolled in early childhood education and the number suffering from rheumatic fever.

There are now 40,000 fewer working age people receiving welfare payments than three years ago, thanks to more intensive and individualised case management and bureaucrats actively developing partnerships with local businesses.

The new targets include:

  1. Ensuring 90% of pregnant women register with a lead maternity carer in their first trimester;
  2. Reducing by 25% in five years the number of hospitalisations for children 12 and under with preventable conditions;
  3. Reducing the number of children subject to physical and sexual abuse by 20%;
  4. Improving the literacy and numeracy of children — focussing on higher achievement of students in year 8;
  5. Improving educational qualification rates;
  6. Reducing the number of serious crime victims by 10,000;
  7. Achieving a 20% reduction in the time it takes to house priority clients on the social housing register;
  8. Reducing working-age welfare client numbers by 25% and achieve an accumulated actuarial release of welfare liability of $13 billion by June 2018;
  9. Business costs from dealing with government will reduce by 25% by 2020 and government services to business will have similar key performance ratings as leading private sector firms by 2020;
  10. By 2021, 80% of the transactions for the twenty most common public services will be completed digitally.

Many of the targets focus on children and young people, reflecting the New Zealand government’s “investment approach” to welfare, which highlights the long-term impact on citizens and the budget of spending money on young people at risk of falling through the cracks to help them lead normal lives.

“Since we introduced the Better Public Services targets in 2012 we have seen tangible and long-lasting results in priority areas like reduced welfare dependency, better educational achievement, improved healthcare and less serious crime,” said Prime Minister Bill English.

“We want to build on that success so today I announced we are setting new targets which outline my expectations of the public sector. I expect to see our public services do even more for New Zealanders so they can lead better lives and these targets will help ensure that.”

The targets also come with performance measures for the ministries responsible for them. They will be a key part of chief executives’ performance reviews and will be published in departments’ annual reports.

An action plan for each new result will be released in the coming months.

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