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NZQA Tells Select Committee About Backmur Lesson

NZQA TELLS Select Committee that lessons were learned from Blackmur saga

The Chairperson of the Education and Science Select Committee today congratulated the New Zealand Qualifications Authority on the turnaround in its performance in the year since ex-Chief Executive Dr. Douglas Blackmur walked out.

Liz Gordon asked the Board’s Deputy Chair, David Moloney, to explain how the Board could have failed to spot the gaps in Blackmur’s performance, given his frequent trips overseas and the obvious crumbling of the organisation’s morale and performance.

Mr Moloney replied that the Chief Executive put on an excellent performance at his interview, and was able to arrive at board meetings with all the right papers, and with performance indicators showing a positive result.

Moloney went on to say that conditions within the organisation were such that staff did not feel able to disclose the shortcomings to board members. In particular, he said, staff were asked to sign a document which gagged them from speaking about the organisation to others.

Dr. Gordon asked Mr Moloney what, if anything, other public sector boards might learn from the Blackmur period. He stated that other organisations could get into similar situations, because boards only ever had partial knowledge of the internal workings of their organisations. Inevitably, he said, most of the responsibility lay with the Chief Executive.

Finally, Liz Gordon said that the Select Committee itself expressed deep disquiet about the NZQA during the period of Blackmur’s incumbency, and was very aware that there were shortcomings. “Why”, she asked “was the board apparently not concerned at the range of problems which led the select committee to be very critical at the time?”.

Mr. Moloney said that the Board were just beginning to recognise that there were real problems which could be traced back to the Chief Executive, at the point when Blackmur terminated his own position and returned to Australia.

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