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Sustaining conservation in the future

28 May 2008

Sustaining conservation in the future: Department of Conservation confirms organisational changes

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has today released to staff the final report of the Strategy and Budget Alignment (SBA) Review. This follows consultation with staff and reflects an extensive three month review of spending carried out by the Department and PSA representatives.

DOC’s Director General, Al Morrison says the additional funding announced in Budget 2008 of $3.259 million per annum for the next four years took pressure off the cost savings exercise and has been factored into the review team’s decisions.

DOC and the Public Service Association (PSA) have worked together closely on the Review in line with their Partnership for Quality Agreement.

Mr Morrison says the changes announced allow the Department to balance its budget over the next three years.

These include:

From a total of approximately 1800 full time employees at DOC the report outlines:

- the disestablishment of 33 positions in Head Office and 27 regional positions (60 in total)
- 20 of the 60 positions to be disestablished are currently vacant
- the report also announces 13 new positions are to be established.

A range of biosecurity functions are to be transferred from the Department to MAF Biosecurity New Zealand. This is a decision in principle subject to Cabinet approval, and is in line with the Government’s intention of establishing one integrated biosecurity agency.

A new aquatic and threats unit is to be established in the Department’s head office.

This unit will manage a number of specialist teams including a marine conservation team. The marine conservation unit in its current form is being separated into its specialised areas. Marine policy will shift to the Policy Group. Marine education and awareness work will shift to the Marketing Communications Group. Marine science and technical work will remain in the Research and Development Group.

The Department will continue, and where necessary increase commissioning science advice from outside agencies in order to take advantage of the wide range of science expertise available in universities and crown research institutes.

These decisions have been made on the basis that the marine conservation unit has successfully completed most of the work it was established to do. The increasing complexity of its separate functions argues in favour of locating them with specialist units.

As part of this change three management roles are being streamlined into two positions, One senior technical support office role and three science positions (of which one is currently vacant) are being disestablished.

The social science team in DOC’s head office is to be disestablished and replaced with one new social science advisor who will provide advice on the social science needs of the Department. These needs will be fulfilled by contracted resource on an as-required basis.

The rationale for this decision is primarily a requirement to reprioritise to make savings, but is also affected by the most efficient purchasing model for social science priority work in the next three to five years.

A number of positions have been disestablished in conservancies. These are primarily to contribute to required savings, but also reflect a move to shared services for some conservancies.

“The changes take effect from 30 June 2008 and makes the role, functions and focus of the different parts of the organisation clearer to staff, stakeholders and clients,” Mr Morrison says.

“They will also ensure we can operate in a sustainable way and are in a position to conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future,” Mr Morrison says.


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