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NZQA Statement On Payments

15 January 2001

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority made the following statement today in response to media reports regarding payments made last year to Authority staff.

“It is entirely inaccurate to describe the $2,000 payment made to Authority staff in July 2000 as a ‘relocation’ payment. Nor was it for ‘stress’ or ‘inconvenience’. I am disappointed that media reports portrayed it as such. This statement is to explain the full picture of payments, the position the Authority was in by mid-2000 and the reason for the payment.

There had been no across the board salary increase at the Authority since 1992. A system of annual bonuses had been in place throughout the nineties at the Authority. Prior to my appointment the annual bonus had been increased over the years and had reached $2,000. I decided to reduce this to $1,000 and attach it to participation in a new performance management system.

In general, I do not approve of bonuses that are not related to individual performance. Therefore it is essential to have a performance management system in place so that appropriate judgements will be able to be made in coming years. I wanted to reduce staff expectations regarding annual bonuses and leave flexibility for the future to the new chief executive, as my contract was to end around the end of 2000.

As I have explained previously, the decision to make a one-off payment to all current staff in mid-2000 was entirely related to their work over the previous year, particularly the nine months since my appointment. The Authority had been through a number of years of controversy and retrenchment. Public consultation papers had indicated that the Authority might not continue in its current form and staff numbers had been reduced. When I was appointed in September 1999, I resolved to reverse this trend, to remo ve doubts about the Authority’s role and get on with the very important work we were set up to do.

We obviously had to maintain and develop essential services, but there was a great deal of important work that had been put on hold during the years of uncertainty. This included relations with industry, reviews of unit standards, the establishment of a broadened framework of all New Zealand qualifications, more comprehensive quality assurance and moderation processes, qualifications and provider support in Maori fields, links with Pacific communities, and essential upgrades in technology, including Internet services.

The existing staff were expected to contribute to growth and development in these areas as well as maintaining essential services. It was some months before the effect of new appointments would be felt. Staff responded magnificently. In effect we had turned the Authority round without asking government to increase our baseline funding at all.

In July, I told staff that in recognition of this achievement they would receive a one-off special payment of $2,000.

On the same day I also announced the Authority’s removal to new premises.
I said how good it would be for us all to be able to work in the one building together after working in three separate buildings. I acknowledged the additional personal and business difficulties this change would create, but that in view of the one-off payment there would be no financial compensation related to the move.

Essentially, the decisions were an attempt to keep good faith with the staff, move us to a performance based system of rewards, and keep options open for the new chief executive in 2001.”

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