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Statement of Intent 2014-2019

Enabling and Supporting a Higher Performing Treasury

A World-Class Treasury

The Treasury has a number of strengths. It has a reputation for providing frank and credible advice. It enjoys a high level of trust and confidence with Ministers. It is seen as a go-to agency to deliver on hard and complex issues.

At the same time, there are opportunities for the Treasury to make a greater contribution to raising living standards for New Zealanders. The most significant and pressing of these are outlined below.

Influence, engagement and delivery

The Treasury has a unique position at the heart of government. To be effective, it needs to make the most of that unique position - to take a long-view of the issues, to join up perspectives, and to support effective delivery of policy solutions.

The Treasury's success depends on its influence; to make a difference it needs to provide policy advice that makes sense not just to decision-makers, but to people affected by the decisions. This requires an active and engaged approach to framing issues, having credibility with a wide range of stakeholders, and identifying practical solutions to help government meet the challenges facing New Zealand.

This focus on engagement and policy implementation is becoming a more embedded part of the Treasury's business, and there are good examples of this in practice. But this is a significant shift in the nature of the Treasury's business - in essence from being an "ideas" business, to being an "ideas, relationships and delivery" business.

Leadership in economic policy

The Treasury's contribution to economic policy debate needs to be strong, given the significance of the economic challenges facing New Zealand.

This SOI identifies the challenges and opportunities facing the New Zealand economy. The Treasury has deliberately aimed to be both broader in perspective (with a greater focus on social and environmental aspects of living standards), and bolder and more concrete in policy implications.

The opportunity now is to work with other economic agencies and to support joined up advice to government and development of practical solutions.

This includes developing stronger relationships with key parties in the economy - business leaders, iwi, social partners, NGOs and others - to help craft real world policies that are most likely to improve New Zealand's prospects, and the opportunities and prosperity of New Zealanders.

Leadership in better public services

This focus on engagement, collaboration and delivery also applies to the Treasury's role in leading better public services for New Zealanders.

This is about transforming the way public services are provided in New Zealand in order to get real traction on the outcomes that matter most for New Zealanders.

In practice it means:

  • Deeper engagement with the community to understand their needs, how public services can work better, and the community's role in that.
  • Deeper collaboration with departments, a sound understanding of their cost drivers and business models, what changes in activities and services are likely to positively impact on New Zealanders' lives, and practical advice to Ministers on the options open to them.
  • Working with other central agencies and the functional leadership agencies to drive transformational change in the public service, by drawing on each other's respective strengths.
  • Strengthening the Treasury's financial and Budget advice to drive changes in system performance, using its information and commercial capability to drive better service delivery, and developing the operational capability to support agencies to change their operating models.

Excellence in core business

The Treasury needs to be excellent at its core business (see page 5). Key areas the Treasury is focused on are:

  • Using performance information to better inform decisions to drive performance improvements in the State sector and to change State sector institutions and systems to get better outcomes.
  • Taking a more active approach to managing value in the Crown's balance sheet. This calls for more careful attention to the quality of investment, and a more deliberate view about opportunities to add or extract value on behalf of taxpayers.

Continuing to develop the capability to meet these challenges

Making the most of these opportunities will require an ongoing shift in the nature of the Treasury's business, and will require a continuing shift in capability for the Treasury - in leadership, in engagement, in diversity of perspectives, and in implementation skills.

The leadership focus - both internally and externally - is on painting a vision of what is possible, and inspiring others towards that. This applies not only to the senior leadership of the organisation, but to all leaders within the organisation.

This implies continuing to build in-house specialist expertise where it is needed, but more importantly, more emphasis on engagement, collaboration, and influencing skills, backed with high strategic agility to join the dots, and practical ability to get the job done.

It also implies openness to diversity of thought and perspectives.

The challenges are big, and the Treasury's success will depend on the quality of its people. The Treasury needs to broaden and strengthen its brand as employer of choice to attract and retain the capability it will need to meet these challenges.

What Will Success Look Like?

In summary, success will mean the Treasury is a much more influential organisation because it genuinely engages with a range of key stakeholders within the State sector, across the economy and, more importantly, in communities.

The Treasury's strength is in its ability to take a whole-of-economy and whole-of-government perspective. A successful Treasury will connect the dots for Ministers and work in partnership with people to provide the best possible advice to Ministers on real-world solutions to improve living standards for New Zealanders.

Success in the future will mean Treasury staff are regarded as good listeners, intellectually curious and ambitious. The Treasury challenges but at the same time looks for opportunities to collaborate and supplement its knowledge and skills with those of others.

Because the Treasury values creative and innovative solutions, it will foster diversity of thought and experience, and an inclusive culture. This will help the organisation understand the environment and real-world challenges that affect all New Zealanders. Together with its partners the Treasury will have made significant shifts in some of the biggest, long-term issues for New Zealanders.

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