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Public service evaluation capacity critical

11 July 2000 Media Statement

Public service evaluation capacity critical says Maharey

Better evaluation ability within the public sector will be critical if the Government is to improve the delivery of social services and employment, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Mr Maharey opened the New Zealand Impact Evaluation Forum in Wellington this morning. The two-day forum, which is being jointly sponsored by the Department of Work and Income, the Labour Market Policy Group of the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Social Policy, is focusing on assessing the impact of government-funded employment and welfare programmes. Mr Maharey said that the Government wanted to see far better evaluation capacity within the public service.

"Labour and the Alliance want to set a new course for the delivery of government programmes. Our approach is to foster local partnerships and to move to measuring the outcomes of those programmes in the communities they are designed to effect.

"This is a quite radical shift from the 'output' focused model which has held sway within the public service for well over a decade. It also brings new challenges and the need to develop new accountability standards.

"A key issue will be boosting the ability within the public service to move from output reporting to a new outcomes focus. This is essential both in terms of programme design and in ensuring that we can properly account for the use of taxpayer funds.

"In my own portfolios I want to see a quantam leap in the ability of my officials to accurately determine the effectiveness of the new community-based initiatives we are promoting in employment and social services. Effective outcomes evaluation will also be critical to the success of our Closing the Gaps strategy.

"The Government is convinced that we must move away from the narrow output and contractural focus which has dominated public sector thinking if we are to make real gains in improving social cohesion," Steve Maharey said.


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