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MAF/MFish merger to realise savings; front line secure

Media release

24 August 2011

MAF/MFish merger to realise savings; front line functions remain secure

A MAF which will deliver on its organisational strategy and better serve New Zealand, is the aim of consultation proposals released to MAF staff today.

MAF and the Ministry of Fisheries merged on 1 July, and an interim structure has been in place since, led by Director General, Wayne McNee. The current consultation considers the remaining structural changes needed to complete the merger.

If implemented as proposed, the changes would realise savings of more than $18 million in the 2012/13 financial year. And Wayne McNee says these savings would occur without reducing the front line services delivered by MAF.

Wayne McNee says: “The primary sectors are enormously important to New Zealand’s economic future and they need to be served by a Ministry that is future focused, agile and enabling.”

“Our Ministry will partner with the primary sector to maximise export opportunities and improve sector productivity, while increasing sustainable resource use and protecting New Zealand from biological risks. We will also ensure our services provide good value to New Zealand.”

Wayne McNee says the proposals include combining and streamlining functions such as financial management, policy advice, and communications. In areas where there is a strong business case, such as IT, there are proposals to out-source some functions.

Other reductions in position numbers would occur through a realignment of the management structures of the two legacy Ministries. Many of the positions proposed to reduce are currently vacant.

However, Wayne McNee says there are no proposals to reduce numbers of current staff who are:
• Fishery officers
• Animal welfare inspectors and investigators
• Quarantine inspectors.

“We will continue to deliver the front-line services that we know are valued by New Zealanders, and ensure these are of a high standard,” says Wayne McNee.

Wayne McNee says changes to staff levels have been balanced against the need to ensure front-line services will continue to be delivered and improved. Under the proposals, MAF estimates the number of positions would reduce by 241, of which 97 are currently vacant. The majority of that reduction would occur in Wellington, where MAF has its head office.

Wayne McNee says that final decisions on the outcome of the consultation process will be announced in October.

ENDS


Background

The legal merger of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with the Ministry of Fisheries occurred on 1 July 2011.

Phase 1 of the MAF/Fish merger change process involved defining the high-level branch structure (8 branches). Decisions on this structure were announced on 16 June following a period of consultation with staff.

Phase two (the current phase) involves consulting and taking decisions on the detailed design of each of the new branches. This has involved examining the current structure and identifying and removing duplication, as well as finding efficiencies in how services are delivered. The new branch structures will begin to come into effect from October 2011.

The consultation includes detailed proposals in all eight branches. In summary, the proposals aim to:

• concentrate resources on the organisation’s core functions
• reduce costs to stakeholders and taxpayers, while aiming to improve services delivered
• increase organisational agility and flexibility
• establish clear decision rights and assigning accountability for the work of each group.
• demonstrate a clear and integrated view of stakeholder issues, from paddock/ocean to plate.

In parallel with the merger programme, the Ministry has been developing the organisational strategy. The strategy was approved by Cabinet on 8 August 2011 and defines MAF’s vision as ‘Growing and Protecting New Zealand’.

What would the proposed changes mean for the Ministry?

The proposed branch designs aim to integrate our existing functions, creating a strong platform for growing the primary sectors while increasing the use of sustainable resources and protecting from biological risk. The aim of this is to build a Ministry that delivers on our organisational strategy goals.

Will our borders, fisheries and food safety systems remain secure?

Yes. In summary the proposals with frontline services are:

• Fisheries officers: No-changes in numbers or locations are proposed for fisheries officers, or honorary fisheries officers. We are proposing to align the inspection and compliance functions from legacy MAF with the compliance functions of legacy Fish, which will result in the need to review the management structure for those functions.

• Animal Welfare: Other than alignment as above [including management alignment], no changes are proposed to the number of front line animal welfare inspectors and investigators.

• Biosecurity Frontline: No reduction is proposed to quarantine inspectors or functions performed. The Japan offshore car inspection programme is scheduled to cease on 1 July 2012 (this is not related to the merger). The quarantine inspectors working in the offshore programme will return to their home sites at the end of their secondments. Stakeholders have been notified of this proposal – which is a result of the success of the programme and provides a model for future offshore interventions. We are proposing to align the management structure on a geographic base resulting in the need to review the management structure for these functions.

• Other front line changes: We are not proposing changes outside management alignment in any other frontline functions.


The Ministry is looking to make savings – is it just proposing to do this through reducing headcount?

No. Staff numbers are proposed to reduce to enable the Ministry to perform its role effectively and efficiently and to avoid duplication. We are also examining where cost savings can be made in some of the Ministry’s projects.

Will any of the Ministry’s offices have to close as a result of the proposed branch designs?

There are no proposals to close offices as part of the branch designs currently being consulted on. As business needs arise and leases expire, we will examine the business case for consolidating office space in regions where there are currently more than one office.

What is the timeline for the consultation?

Wednesday 24 August Consultation documents will be provided to all staff. Managers will be available to discuss proposals with staff.

Wednesday 24 August to Tuesday 13 September Consultation period. Senior MAF Staff will be holding workshops as part of a roadshow held throughout the country.
Tuesday 13 September Consultation ends

Mid-October Final decisions for branch designs announced.


What’s the overall impact of the proposals?

Savings would be greater than early estimates. We expect to achieve savings in 2012/13 of around $18 million.

Our current estimates of the proposed changes in terms of staff include:

• Proposals would lead to 466 positions being disestablished, partially offset by the creation of 225 new positions;
• A further 706 positions would undergo minor change (such as reporting line change, or change in job title);
• Potential net reduction of 241 positions throughout NZ, of which we estimate 97 are currently vacant;
• Potential net reduction of 189 positions in Wellington. Auckland is the only other centre with a proposed net reduction of more than 10 positions;
• The majority of proposed reductions would be in roles providing organisation-wide services (for example IT, financing, policy advice, and communications).

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