The Problems, Progress, And Potential Of Performance Reporting
Our paper The problems, progress, and potential of performance reporting was presented to the House of Representatives today. This paper builds on our recent research about the future of public accountability. It considers performance reporting in its entirety – from collecting information to its reporting and use.
Performance reporting is a fundamental part of providing effective public accountability. In our work, we regularly see public organisations struggle to clearly explain what they do and how well they do it. Much of the reporting about performance is focused on what is important to the organisation rather than on what matters to the people they serve.
In our view, the first step in preparing a meaningful story about public sector performance is to understand what people want to know about public organisations, their services, and their contribution to New Zealanders’ well-being. The next step is being able to clearly describe (and ideally measure) the difference that each public organisation is seeking to achieve in terms of improved outcomes for the communities it serves.
Although our paper is focused on the quality of reported performance, it also points to an underlying question about the management of performance. If public resources are being directed and managed well, public organisations should be able to tell a clear and compelling story about how they deliver value and contribute to the outcomes that are important to New Zealanders.
Good performance information is required at an organisational level, across sectors, and at a whole-of-government level. The current plans to reform parts of the public sector (for example in health) provide an important opportunity to make improvements. We encourage Parliament to reflect on its own role in supporting these improvements. Parliament can require more from public organisations. It can demand better quality information that is focused on what matters to New Zealanders.
Improved performance reporting must be seen as a priority, if we are to address the many complex, long-term, and difficult problems facing New Zealand and improve accountability of the public sector.
Response to Orion Health Limited
Orion Health Limited wrote to our Office raising concerns about the Ministry of Health’s procurement of services to provide a Covid-19 Immunisation Register and a national immunisation system. It also raised concerns about the 2021 Budget announcement of funding for new information technology infrastructure for breast screening. We sought more information to help us decide whether to carry out an inquiry.
From our work looking at the procurement processes carried out to date, we found that:
- the Ministry approached this as an “emergency” procurement and took steps to follow MBIE’s emergency procurement guidance;
- the judgements in the business case about the National Immunisation Register were within the Ministry’s mandate and expertise to make, and were arrived at following discussions with Orion; and
- while we have not taken a view on whether the successful tenderer has experience dealing with health information, the procurement evaluation panel concluded that Deloitte had the delivery experience and capacity to manage the implementation of the Screening Solution.
The Ministry told us it now knows the Immunisation Solution will not cost the full $38 million authorised by the Joint Ministers. We understand this is because much of the work done to date on the Covid-19 Immunisation Register will be used for the development of the Immunisation Solution.
In our view, the Ministry should document how any further procurement it carries out aligns with the Government Procurement Rules and continue to assess whether it is receiving value for money in its investment in screening and immunisation solutions.