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Terms of Reference for review released

Terms of Reference for review released

The Ministry of Health today outlined Terms of Reference for its review into its contracts with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

"Clearly there is a problem with at least a few clauses of a few contracts the Ministry holds with NGOs, relating to advocacy for supporting the passage of legislation," says Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi. "This includes some amendments to contracts made by the Ministry itself."

Whilst the Ministry has inherited a significant number of contracts from the Health Funding Authority, which was an arms-length crown entity, the Ministry itself must ensure that inherited, amended and new contracts with NGOs comply with the Public Service Code of Conduct. Thus all contracts are being reviewed in this regard.

Dr Poutasi says the review is being conducted by the Ministry's Internal Audit team, and former State Services Commissioner Don Hunn has been appointed lead reviewer. "The Ministry will take whatever action is necessary to remedy inappropriate contracts"

A copy of the review's Terms of Reference follows.

TERMS OF REFERENCE Review of Ministry of Health contracts with NGOs to assess compliance with the public service standards

BACKGROUND 1. Public service standards in this country are derived from legislation, the New Zealand Public Service Code of Conduct and State Services Commission guidelines, the Cabinet Office Manual, and constitutional convention.

2. This guidance identifies the position of Government agencies as one of political neutrality, along with an obligation to provide free and frank advice to responsible Ministers, including during the formation and passage of legislation.

3. The Ministry (and previous key health agencies) has contracted with NGOs to deliver services in areas where they have particular knowledge and are part of a community of interest.

4. This review will assess the way in which the Ministry has administered its contracts with NGOs (non Government Organisations), specifically: i. What were/ are the terms of the contracts in question and was there a breach of the Public Service Code of Conduct as they apply to Public Service Departments? ii. What are the implications for the Ministry?s contracting processes, including monitoring, that then arise?

METHODOLOGY 1. A review of Treasury, Office of the Auditor-General, State Services Commission and Cabinet Office guidelines applicable to contracting with NGOs.

2. A review of the Ministry?s current NGO agreements to determine compliance with the Public Service Code of Conduct. From these, identify any subset with specific requirements for lobbying as part of advocacy output and any subset with requirements for lobbying on legislation.

3. Consult relevant Deputy Directors-General as to the objectives of such requirements identified in 2. (above) and (if those objectives are still sought) on options for achieving the objectives.

4. Examine changes in the outputs since 1992 in relevant contracts, which devolved from the Public Health Commission, the Regional Health Authorities, or latterly the Health Funding Authority to the Ministry of Health.

SPONSOR: Karen Poutasi, Director-General of Health.

RESPONSIBLE MANAGER: Steve Brazier, Chief Internal Auditor, Risk and Assurance, Ministry of Health.

REVIEW TEAM: Don Hunn, lead reviewer; Leanne Arker, Audit Manager, Risk and Assurance, Ministry of Health.

WHO IS TO BE CONSULTED: Deputy Directors-General (Ministry of Health), Ministry of Health?s NGO Working Group, the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector (Ministry of Social Development), State Services Commission, Office of the Controller and Auditor General, Solicitor-General and any other relevant staff or agency.

TIMEFRAME Finalised report including the review of all other relevant Ministry contracts, submitted to Director-General by mid November 2003.

EXCLUSIONS The terms of reference exclude Crown entities that have a funding agreement and/or statement of intent with the Crown.

FURTHER WORK Once the outcome of the Ministry's review is available, the Ministry will consider the implications for health related Crown entities, and advise the Minister accordingly.

REPORTING The Director-General will make the report available to the Ministers, State Services Commissioner and Auditor General.

COMMUNICATION The final review report will be made publicly available approximately at the end of November.

Karen Poutasi Director-General of Health

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