Maintaining performance integrity
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The Leadership Team
The Chief Executive is supported by nine Deputy Chief Executives to form the Leadership Team. The Leadership Team provides Ministry-wide direction and leadership. The Leadership Team’s meetings include:
- Leadership Team Business meetings which are held three times a month and focus on strategic issues.
- Leadership Team Board meetings which are held once a month and provide Ministry-wide governance, with a focus on monitoring organisational performance, capability and risk.
The Leadership Team meets weekly to discuss Ministry-wide issues.
Governance and Advisory Committees
We have three internal governance committees and two advisory committees that focus on key areas of our performance. These committees comprise the Leadership Team, relevant senior managers, and other attendees as appropriate to the committee.
Committees support the decision-making processes of the Leadership Team and give an additional level of governance.
These committees are:
- Finance and Assets Management Governance Committee ensures the Ministry operates in a financially responsible manner, uses its resources effectively and efficiently to achieve the Ministry’s business objectives, and safeguards its long-term financial position.
- Human Resources and Industrial Relations Governance Committee takes a whole-of-Ministry approach to human resources and industrial relations issues.
- Information Technology Governance Committee provides direction on, and controls, current and future significant information technology projects.
These committees are:
- Security, Integrity and Business Continuity Advisory Committee provides a clear direction, management support and an oversight of security, integrity and business continuity policies, standards and initiatives.
- Joint Policy Priority Projects Committee provides a forum for Deputy Chief Executives to monitor deliverables, actively manage risk/issues on cross-Ministry policy and implementation projects.
External Advisory Committees
The Chief Executive is also supported by external advisory committees. These committees are:
- Audit Committee provides advice on the Ministry’s risk framework and internal controls (including legislative compliance), on its internal and external audit functions, financial and other external reporting, and on its governance framework and process. The Committee is chaired by one of the external members.
- Value for Money Advisory Board provides advice and support to the Chief Executive on the implementation of the Ministry’s Value for Money work programme. The Board meets formally five times a year and is chaired by one of the three external members. One of these external members is a representative from the Treasury.
Complaints, Reviews and Resolution of Grievances
We provide ways for clients to get timely Reviews of Decisions that have been made about them and to investigate and resolve concerns raised by people who have been in our direct care, custody or received our services.
The Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel on Child, Youth and Family Complaints provides advice on complaints that Child, Youth and Family has not been able to resolve through its own internal complaints process. The Panel is made up of independent experts who are respected in the community. In 2010/2011, the Panel heard 20 complaints. The Chief Executive accepted all of the Panel’s recommendations.
In 2010/2011, our Care Claims and Resolution Team resolved, or made offers of compensation on 117 historic claims of abuse and neglect, up from 43 in the previous year.
There were applications for a Review of Decision for one-tenth of one-hundredth of a per cent of decisions taken by Work and Income and Students, Seniors and Integrity Services. Ten per cent of these were overturned by an external Benefit Review Committee.
All of the Ministry’s complaint, review and appeal processes are either operated or monitored from outside the Ministry’s service lines.
Improving performance management and measurement
In 2010/2011, we have continued to enhance our performance management of outputs by adding an additional six quality performance measures to our regular monitoring of outputs. Of the 90 performance measures we report against over the year, we achieved the expected standard for 67 measures (74 per cent). We also exceeded the standard for 17 measures by more than five per cent (19 per cent).
Six of the 90 measures were not achieved. Three of these measures were affected by the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes. Of these, two were missed by less than one per cent. Two measures were not achieved due to policy changes throughout the year. One measure was not achieved due to one incorrect figure in a response to one parliamentary question. We have amended our review procedures to address this.
Over the year, we worked closely with Audit New Zealand and the Treasury through the Next Generation project to improve our outcome framework and measurement systems.
Our control systems
Our Risk and Assurance team undertakes a range of planned and responsive activities through its Total Assurance Plan.
- planned audits across the Ministry’s core processes
- a programme of regular stocktakes across business areas
- responsive reviews when there are changes that may have an impact on the control environment.
The Total Assurance Plan provides assurance that the Ministry’s network of risk management activities, controls and governance is adequate and functioning effectively.
Complying with our legal obligations
Our Legal Services team works with managers to ensure our internal policies properly reflect the law. The team also works with business areas to ensure the staff are aware of our legal requirements and are able to identify legal risk. This complements the Ministry’s wider risk management approach.
These components are backed by a rolling programme to systematically check all policies against the underlying legal requirements. Business groups also complete legislation compliance checks.
Our Risk and Assurance team has independently checked our compliance levels as part of the 2010/2011 Total Assurance Plan and has made no recommendations for improvement.
Maintaining the integrity of our service
Code of Conduct
During 2010/2011, we finalised a Code of Conduct that applies to the entire Ministry. The Code emphasises the four key standards for staff of fairness, impartiality, responsibility and trustworthiness. It also provides staff with guidelines and expectations about conduct that will not be tolerated, and the consequences of not meeting those expectations.
Because of the role we have, we must have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of children, fraud, and the inappropriate accessing of client records. This includes the deliberate and unauthorised release of sensitive information to third parties. The consequences for staff include dismissal and referral to the New Zealand Police. In addition to any penalty the Court may impose, all money fraudulently obtained will have to be repaid in full.
In August 2010, we also held an Integrity Week to highlight the responsibility of all staff to ensure the correct expenditure of public money and to maintain high standards of ethics and integrity, including their role in protecting clients’ information.
The Code of Conduct reflects the State Services Commission Standards of Integrity.
We have zero tolerance to benefit fraud whether it is internal or external. Where we find evidence of fraud, we prosecute. In 2010/2011, we completed 690 fraud prosecutions, of which 658 or 95 per cent were successful compared to 91 per cent in 2009/2010.
During 2010/2011, we established $22.6 million of fraud money owing and we recovered $2.2 million. The total balance of fraud money owed to the Crown is $86.7 million.
Fraud is a deliberate, planned and premeditated attempt to get money to which the person is not entitled.
Identification and recovery
In the past two years, we have increased the number of data match checks by 250 per cent. We have been sharing information with Inland Revenue each month since November 2010. We share information daily with Corrections. Each week, we share information with the Department of Internal Affairs, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Customs and Housing New Zealand.
In May 2011, we launched a new workflow management system to streamline our processes and to segment our clients based on their repayment behaviours.
Managing our workflows allows us to concentrate our efforts on those clients who need more assistance to make repayments.
Managing money owed to the Crown
In addition to fraud, other types of money owed to the Crown by the Ministry’s clients relate to:
- Recoverable Assistance Loans which are for essential items such as school uniforms or washing machines. During 2010/2011, we granted loans totaling $162.7 million which makes up just under one per cent of the total benefit spend. The total balance owed is $411.3 million and clients repaid $145.7 million over the year.
- Overpayments which often occur because we are told about changes to a client’s circumstances, such as a change of address, after the payment has already been made. During 2010/2011, overpayments of $195 million were established which makes up just over one per cent of the total benefit spend. We also recovered overpayments of $140 million over the year. Information-sharing arrangements with Inland Revenue are helping us to correct benefit payments more quickly.
In 2010/2011, the cost per dollar of collecting money owed from former clients and non-beneficiaries was $0.18 for each dollar collected. Around half of all money owed by former clients is less than one year old.
In April 2011, the Auditor-General’s report, The Ministry of Social Development: Managing the Recovery of Debt concluded that the Ministry is using well established and appropriate systems to recover loans and overpayments. The report did not include any formal recommendations.
The Recoverable Assistance programme provides recoverable financial assistance to non-beneficiaries to meet essential immediate needs for specific items or services.