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The Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice

Scope

The Treasury applies a consistent quality standard to policy advice provided through all appropriations. The policy standard is published in full on page 64 of this Annual Report.

The Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice: All Treasury Appropriations
Performance Dimensions Target Performance for 2010/11
All policy outputs comply with the Treasury's Quality Standards for Policy Advice. Rated as meeting and frequently exceeding expectations. Consistent standard of work achieved.

Review of the Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice 2011

In 2009 we commissioned an external review of a sample of the Treasury's advice and in 2011 we conducted a similar but more focused review using Howard Fancy, a director of economic and policy research firm Motu, as an independent external reviewer. The intent of the 2011 review was to:

  • assess the quality of a sample of reports against the published quality standards
  • provide advice about how the quality of the advice reviewed could have been improved, and
  • comment on any changes in quality in 2011, compared with a review conducted in 2009.

The review looked at a sample of the Treasury's work over the year (six work streams).

In addition to assessing the work against our published Quality Standards, the review looked for opportunities for improvement.

The review found that a consistent standard of work is being achieved and maintained by the Treasury. All six work streams were assessed as performing between satisfactory and very good. Variability between individual reports and between work streams was generally low. The review found that Ministers could be confident that the Treasury achieves and maintains satisfactory levels of quality.

To the extent that comparisons can be made with the 2009 results, the 2011 review found that the Treasury:

  • has a good breadth of institutional knowledge across both subject matter and the processes of government
  • uses a robust approach to identifying and contextualising issues and problems in order to provide a clear basis for analysis
  • has a strong and appropriate focus on fiscal implications
  • provides advice that is solution and customer focused
  • has a clear customer focus on the Minister of Finance
  • is generally clear and concise in its communication, and
  • has a strong capability to be reactive.

In order to improve the overall effectiveness and quality of the Treasury's policy advice, the review recommended that the Treasury:

  • have a stronger focus on outcomes, including a more explicit focus on assuring value for money and on the likely effectiveness of policies
  • ensure that work is framed by a broad view that looks beyond the immediate policy intent to also consider wider context and how policy can be most effectively delivered
  • broaden its focus beyond risks to also consider potential opportunities and how these opportunities might be realised
  • shift from a focus on issues to looking at broader system approaches that seek to change underlying thinking, capabilities and practices, and
  • improve the presentation and usability of material provided to Ministers.

The Treasury is considering the findings and recommendations in order to develop a programme of improvements that aligns with other performance improvement work already under way.

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