annual report cover

We are focusing more on the way we use and protect data and analytics

We started to develop a strategy to help us focus on the way we collect, use and safeguard data for governance, organisational capability, technology, data quality and stewardship purposes.

We have set up a data design group to provide direction and oversight for this work.

The use of analytics helps us to make better decisions at the front line

We carried out evaluations of several programmes, services and impact assessments, including:

  • welfare return on investment for intensive case management services
  • evaluations of the cost-effectiveness of employment assistance in 2014/2015 and 2016/2017
  • effectiveness of driver licensing programmes funded by MSD in 2014 and 2015
  • effectiveness of the Limited Services Volunteer programme in 2014/2015 [46].

These research reports show the effectiveness on the mix of employment assistance interventions that we have delivered, and how individual interventions impact on outcomes for people.

Intelligence-led decision-making

We introduced a number of self-service reporting tools to enable case managers and service centre managers in both MSD and Oranga Tamariki to manage workloads and resources. The tools also enable staff in MSD’s National Office to analyse data in the benefit and housing systems in a secure environment, so they can make better operational and strategic decisions.

We want our work to be accessible, to support better decision-making and to contribute to the wider evidence base.

As part of the Government’s commitment to actively releasing high-value public data, we expanded the range of benefit-and housing-related reports available to the public. These include the benefit-related data dashboard and quarterly Benefit Fact Sheets summary reports. These analytical reports are designed to inform the public and to assist decision-makers.

Our Publications Committee is conducting a process review to ensure all our publications meet strict quality standards. A better process will allow us to increase the volume and quality of our publications.

We worked with other agencies to increase the use of shared data, and to combine expertise

Our use of the Integrated Data Infrastructure

Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) holds data from a range of government agencies, and allows those who use the data to broaden their understanding of their clients and to ascertain whether their services are effective. We use the IDI to understand much more about the people who need our help than we can collect just through our interactions with them.

In a research project we undertook into what happens to people after they leave the benefit system, the IDI helped us to analyse their education, employment history, income progression, and how likely they were to return to benefit after leaving the system. This research will form a foundation for the development of our modelling of social outcomes and wellbeing for 2018/2019 and beyond, which is being developed in the IDI, including:

  • broadening the range of outcomes forecast to include, for example, health status, education level, employment status, income and other wellbeing indicators
  • broadening the group of people we seek to understand
  • modelling emergency and transitional housing as well as public housing (as data becomes available in the future) [47].

These developments will improve our understanding of how our services and other factors influence people’s lives, which outcomes we should target at different stages of people’s lives, and which services best support New Zealanders to achieve their potential.

In anticipation of the disestablishment of the Families Commission (Superu), the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUINZ) programme of work was transferred to MSD in July 2017.

Growing up in nz

Growing Up in New Zealand Study

Growing Up in New Zealand48 is New Zealand's largest longitudinal study of child development, tracking around 6,800 New Zealand children born in 2009 and 2010, from before birth until they are young adults. Responsibility for the Growing Up in New Zealand study returned to MSD in November 2017.

The study looks at health and wellbeing, family and whanau life, education, psychological development, neighbourhood and environment, and culture and identity. The data gathered provides rich information about the diverse lives of children growing up amidst the cultural, economic, societal and technological complexity of 21st century New Zealand. The de-identified data helps inform government policy that will improve the lives of children and families.

A further $1.9 million in funding was allocated in May 2018 to support the current round of interviews and data gathering with study families, and to improve access to the data gathered by the study. We also run the Children and Families Research Fund, worth $750,000 a year to policy-relevant research projects that will support the wellbeing of New Zealand children, families and whanau.

Data exchange – sharing data with other agencies

We worked with the Social Investment Agency to develop a prototype data exchange platform and solution. This will streamline secure data sharing with less manual overheads, eliminate the risk of confidential data leakage, and facilitate greater collaboration across the public sector.

Contribution to all-of-government frameworks

We collaborated with Statistics New Zealand and the Government Chief Data Steward to review all-of-government frameworks related to data usage and collection and the principles of data privacy and use. This will contribute to, and bring expertise into, the development of all-of-government data standards, infrastructure and process capability.

Government Analytics Network

In September 2017 a practitioner-led community of practice (the Government Analytics Network) was formed by a group of subject matter experts across government, including from MSD. We helped to form the Terms of Reference and participate in the ongoing governance of the group. The purpose of the Network is to share knowledge and enhance the utility of data and analytics. It now boasts approximately 80 participants.

We manage risk in a challenging environment

The increasingly complex and changing environment in which we work provides opportunities and challenges in maintaining and improving services to New Zealanders while managing known and emerging risks.

We have a dedicated Risk and Assurance team that supports our Leadership Team by:

  • overseeing the process for managing organisation-wide risks
  • providing assurance to change initiatives
  • maintaining our organisational relationship with Audit New Zealand
  • helping business groups identify risks
  • providing independent advice that enhances our organisational risk management and assurance capability.

Independent Risk and Audit Committee

Our Risk and Audit Committee provides critical support to our Chief Executive through independent advice and challenge on risk, internal control and assurance matters. The Committee’s advisory role provides an alternative perspective on risk management and internal control, internal assurance, external audit, financial and performance matters, and governance frameworks and processes. The external perspective provided by the Committee is of critical importance for the Ministry.

The Committee met five times during 2017/2018 and comprised the following independent external members:

  • Graeme Mitchell (Chair and member until 14 September 2017)
  • Kristy McDonald QC (Chair from 14 September 2017)
  • Linda Robertson
  • Sir Maarten Wevers KNZM [49]
  • Ian Fitzgerald (member from 14 September 2017).

The Committee provided advice and assurance on the following key areas of our work:

  • health, safety and security
  • ICT security
  • internal and external fraud
  • risk management frameworks
  • financial reporting
  • shared corporate services
  • legislative compliance.

We continued to provide shared corporate services to Oranga Tamariki

The Government agreed in 2016 that we would provide a range of shared corporate services to Oranga Tamariki for at least the first two years of its operation. In April 2017 we entered into a shared services arrangement that allows Oranga Tamariki to focus on service delivery changes and the implementation of its new operating model.

This year we agreed with Oranga Tamariki to conduct a joint review to look at future provision of shared services. We are already working closely with Oranga Tamariki management to understand their expectations and requirements, and match those to the future direction of our own corporate services.

We implemented New Zealand Business Number requirements in our systems and processes

We have continued work to incorporate New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) information into our systems. It is now mandatory for the NZBN to be entered into our Client Management System for new records for providers who are registered with the Companies Office, while over 85 percent of social services providers have an NZBN number in the system. This places us in a good position to meet the Cabinet directive of 2016 that agencies are able to identify a business from its NZBN by 31 December 2018.

We had success at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Awards

In 2017 SmartStart, a cross-agency initiative of the Department of Internal Affairs, MSD, Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Health, won the Achieving Collective Impact category at the IPANZ Public Sector Excellence Awards, and the Best Public Procurement Project category in the Australasia Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Awards. MSD led the procurement phase, which won the Australasia award. SmartStart was developed around New Zealanders’ life events, making it easier to navigate government services.

The SmartStart tool aims to make it easier for parents and caregivers to access relevant information and services for themselves and their babies. It also establishes a digital identity for a child to use throughout their life.


[46] We expect to publish these reports before 30 June 2019.

[47] Responsibility for this housing work moved to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in October 2018.

[48] The study is based at the University of Auckland and managed by Auckland UniServices Ltd.

[49] Sir Maarten Wevers left the Committee following its last meeting of 2017/2018 on 23 May 2018, and has been replaced as a member by David Smol.

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