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Annual Report of the Treasury for the Year Ended 30 June 2012

The Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice

The Treasury has a quality standard for policy advice that is applied to all appropriations. The Quality Standards for Policy Advice are published in full on page 123 of this Annual Report.

Review of the Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice 2012

This year we established an internal panel to review a sample of the Treasury's policy advice for the 2011/12 year. This follows two previous external reviews conducted by Howard Fancy in 2009 and 2011.

The intent of the review was to:

  • assess the quality of a sample of advice against the Treasury's Quality Standards for Policy Advice
  • identify examples of best practice, and
  • identify areas for potential improvement.

The panel was led by experienced leaders within the Treasury and looked at a representative sample of advice selected using a randomised methodology. The process was designed in line with the findings of the policy advice measurement pilot currently underway, which is being led by the Treasury.

The review found that:

  • the average grade for assessed reports was 7.2 out of 10, and
  • 80% of assessed reports were graded 7 out of 10 or higher.

These results should provide confidence that, overall, the Treasury achieves and maintains satisfactory levels of quality. The results are also broadly consistent with Howard Fancy's findings last year, with the reviewers identifying many of the same strengths as he identified.

Some of the weaknesses identified in the Fancy review, such as an emphasis on fiscal implications rather than a broader value-for-money perspective, did not come through as strongly. We would expect that, as the internal review process continues, a broad range of types of advice would be picked up through the random selection process and enable us to see whether the issues persist.

The Treasury is still working through the findings of the review and identifying what lessons can be learned to lift the quality of our policy advice.

Our intention is to continue the internal review process with regular assessments during the year so that staff receive more timely feedback to support continuous improvement. The Treasury will be giving consideration to how to complement the internal review process with periodic external reviews.

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