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Parker: Value for money in the State sector

David Parker

17 July, 2008
Providing value for money in the State sector

State Services Minister David Parker’s address at the Partnership, Productivity & Public Value conference
9.30am, 17 July 2008, Wellington Conference Centre

Good morning – and welcome to this conference on Productivity, Partnership & Public Value.

I am pleased that you have taken the time to attend this conference.

As we all know, strong public services benefit all New Zealanders. Our State services fund and provide services which are essential for our nation – from health and education to social security and law and order, to major infrastructure, the care of our heritage and natural environment, and to looking after our interests off shore and to our security.

I think it is critically important that State servants continue to look at ways to deliver better value for the taxpayers' dollars. At present, the rising cost of living is a subject concerning many New Zealand households. That means that now, more than ever, New Zealanders want to be assured their taxes are being well spent.

Over our three terms, this government has invested in restoring the State services, recognising that it had become badly run down and New Zealanders were not getting the services they needed and deserved.

The mistake some make is equating the spending of money with wastage.

Spending money is a wise investment, if it means a better educated workforce, a healthier, safer population, and government resources that assist New Zealanders and their businesses develop and grow. It spurs prosperity and security.

Of course, we want to see a good ‘return’ on the investment made by all taxpayers. That means we are looking for a consistently high performing, trusted State services, capable of innovating and being responsive to the needs of New Zealanders.

This conference is an opportunity for public service managers and union delegates to come together to develop practical programmes of work to increase public value. These programmes, enabled by high quality employment practices, and by effective trade union and employee involvement, will lead to the sort of improvements we are all looking for.

And these improvements have far-reaching consequences.

As one of around 280,000 State sector employees, you have the power to collect tax, arrest people, issue fines, shut down a work site, remove children from their homes for their safety, and to set environmental standards to protect our planet.

For New Zealand to succeed economically, we need to deliver services, whether policy or front line, to a high standard and to do it as efficiently as possible.

That is why there is a Value-for-Money Development Goal. Reaching the overall goal of a system of professional world-class state services, serving the government of the day and meeting the needs of New Zealanders just isn't possible without excellent evolving performance.

The survey on Public Satisfaction with Service Quality (“Kiwis Count”) published earlier this year showed that, with an overall satisfaction rating of 68 percent, people think that you are doing a pretty good job.

A slightly lower number – still over half - agreed that the state services are delivering services that are good value for tax dollars spent.

The challenge is to seek to continue to improve so that these ratings can get higher still.

So, as you gather today, I encourage you to consider more than just the interests of your own agency or organisation, and think about the system as a whole, and how you can work together to improve its performance.

I would also ask that you keep thinking about the reason why you are here today – what it is you hope to achieve from today?

There is a cost to assembling you all here, and that must be recouped through better practice, through better coordination with the networks that you build and the shared understanding you develop today and tomorrow.

That you are working together on concrete examples tells me that you are off to a good start. What we are looking for is innovation, improved practices, and substantial impacts on your agency outcomes.

I encourage you to take this time to engage with these issues, to make sure that you do extract as much value as possible from the opportunity before you.

It is through workplace partnerships that we will realise sustainable improvements in productivity.

I hope you will do everything you can to make this conference worthwhile for you and your agency. Delivering improved productivity across the State services is crucial to New Zealand's economic success.

I would like to thank the State Services Commission, the PSA and the Department of Labour for organising this conference. Good luck with the rest of the conference.


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