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    After Hunn
    The Government response

    from The Jobs Letter No.127 / 14 July 2000

    Last month, the government announced details of its response to the Ministerial Inquiry into the Department of Work and Income (DWI, or Winz). Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey hopes that an increased focus on employment and greater regional flexibility will mark a new beginning for the department.

    Maharey says the new Department of Work and Income purchase agreement and the Chief Executive's performance agreement will together reflect the Government's expectations of the department. Maharey: "A line is drawn under the first 18 months of the Department of Work and Income. Now we move forward. The increased regional employment focus, moving the Community Employment function to the Department of Labour, improved services to Maori and Pacific people, and a more responsive organisational and public service culture … add up to a significant new start."

    As a first step, Winz Regional Commissioners will have to introduce a range of alternate employment approaches from 30 November this year, as part of the wider changes to service delivery in the future. Winz CEO Christine Rankin also has been required to produce a "change management plan", to be presented to the Ministers of State Services and Social Services for their consideration by the middle of this month.

    Some of the specific requirements the Ministers are now expecting from Winz include:

    The "Culture" of the Department
    — Improve collaboration and consultation with key government agencies
    — Commit to informing, involving and consulting with clients, stakeholders, local government, iwi, advocacy groups and other key community groups, both nationally and regionally
    — Modify corporate and business language
    — Continue the recently introduced probity programme to ensure that staff act prudently in spending taxpayer money, and that sound and frugal economic management is maintained
    — The Controller and Auditor General will be asked to include a property audit in the next audit of DWI and include this information with his audit report for 2000
    — Revise performance indicators to ensure consistency with the purchase agreement and the publish performance indicators and results on the Department's website
    — To ease workload pressures, investigate the feasibility of a nationwide rollout of the Application Line pilot that allows clients to register and apply for entitlement through an 0800 number. Moving the bulk of the application process to the call centre allows case managers to spend more time with clients.
    — Give Regional Commissioners immediate authority to move to specialised case management of work tested and non-work tested client groups if they consider that this will relieve staff workload.
    — Improve ways for frontline managers to be informed of and discuss changes
    — Improve the capability of staff to work effectively with clients and targeted groups.
    — Provide better opportunities for staff to have their say.

    Change Management
    — Strengthened collaboration through a Chief Executive's forum involving the Chief Executive of the Department of Work and Income, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Policy (MSP), and the Secretary of Labour and their senior teams for information sharing and progress reporting.
    — In respect of the Department's Maori Strategy, the Chief Executive of the Department of Work and Income will work with the Department of Labour (DoL) and Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) on monitoring progress of the agreed strategy.
    — For implementation of the benefit advocacy group changes, the Chief Executive will work with the Chief Executive of MSP.
    — An existing senior officials group will continue work on increasing the employment focus of the Department. This may be expanded to include officials from TPK and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs.
    — The Ministers of State Services and Social Services and Employment will receive regular reports on progress, and after one year the Minister of Social Services and Employment will review progress made in implementing the two year plan to change the culture and approach of the Department and report back to the Government.

    Employment Focus
    — Services better tailored to local needs (e.g. work brokers will be able to adopt a regional focus rather than a site specific one where this suits the needs of the region better)
    — Specialisation of services to better meet needs of clients (e.g. greater understanding and knowledge of the needs of particular client groups)
    — More appropriate service to client groups (e.g. provision of services by Maori for Maori, whanau case management)
    — Partnerships with communities that maximise the collaboration/co-ordination between the department, other agencies and local community groups
    — Increased community involvement in the direction and priorities of each region

    Services to Maori and Pacific job seekers
    — Work with DoL and TPK to develop a strategy for Maori that is aimed at improving employment prospects for this group. Possibilities under consideration include:
    — a specific "demonstration region" focusing on achieving improvements in Maori employment
    — a specific "demonstration region" focusing on achieving improvements in Pacific employment
    — testing alternative forms of case management within Department of Work and Income designed to deliver services in a more appropriate manner to Maori and Pacific job seekers and to focus greater case management resources on the most disadvantaged job seekers.
    — improving the capacity of Department of Work and Income staff to work with Maori and Pacific job seekers, beginning with an examination of current staff training programmes
    — testing the contracting out of the full range of Department of Work and Income employment services to Maori and Pacific providers.

    Source — Press Release New Zealand Government 20 June 2000 "Govt. Responds To The WINZ Inquiry"

    Speaking on the TV1 Holmes show, Christine Rankin said she was upbeat about the proposed changes to the structure and direction of the organisation. She does not believe her responsibilities were diminished as she still has responsibility for 5,000 Winz employees. Rankin argues that the department has performed well in recent times, doubling the amount of people it put into work, despite "a very difficult 24 months." However, she admits there is "room for improvement."

    Rankin told Holmes that she tries her best to ignore the personal attacks made against her in the media by politicians, students, and unemployed groups. She also says she would not refrain from wearing short skirts and long earrings … as these matters are irrelevant to her performance.

    Source —TV 1 Holmes Programme 20 June 2000; Scoop News 21 June 2000 "Rankin Upbeat About WINZ Changes" by Chris Holm

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