Minpacalumni's Weblog

Weblog for former staff of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in New Zealand

Performance Improvement Framework – Formal Review of MPIA October 2011

Posted by Sai Lealea on December 5, 2011

Results of the Formal Review of MPIA were released last month and now posted on the NZ State Services Commission website.

It provides interesting reading of where MPIA is at following numerous changes introduced by the current CE to improve performance.

Some of the issues raised and discussed are longstanding and indeed were the subject of specific actions previously taken to address them. Others are related to the nature of the work by the Ministry and the limitations arising from being a small agency attempting to influence much larger ones.

A Key concern would be the need to address culture and value issues which are often critical in shaping attitudes to staff loyalty and engagement.

Anyway, those of you keen to learn of where MPIA is at, this report provides some insight on whether or not recent changes at management and organisational level have in fact made a difference. In brief the table below summarises the ratings given to MPIA.


Rating Results of MPIA Review October 2011

Strategic Priorities


Lift incomes and standards of living for Pacific peoples Needing development
Make progress in Auckland Needing development
Promote Pacific cultures and language Well placed

Core Business

Rating (Effectiveness)

Rating (Efficiency)

Policy advice Needing development Needing Development
Nominations Service Needing development Weak
Relationships and Needing development Needing Development
Purchasing ? Weak
Organisational Management
Leadership, Direction & Delivery


Vision, Strategy & Purpose Weak
Leadership & Governance Weak
Culture & Values Needing Development
Structure, Roles and Responsibilities Weak

People Development


Leadership & Workforce Development Needing Development
Management of People Performance Weak
Engagement with Staff Needing Development

External Relationships


Engagement with the Minister(s) Needing Development
Sector Contribution Needing Development
Collaboration & Partnerships with Stakeholders
Financial & Resource Management


Information Management Needing Development
Efficiency Weak
Financial Management Well Placed
Risk Management Needing Development


Description of Performance Improvement Framework on SSC Website

The State Services are in an environment where Government and public expectations about the quality of service delivery is rising and the medium to long-term financial forecast is one of restraint. This means significant and ongoing change.  Agencies are expected to rethink the ways they operate to ensure they are responding to rising expectations, and are focussed on achieving results where they matter the most all the while delivering quality services to New Zealanders. The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) has been designed to help agencies and the system to rise to this challenge by developing agencies that are high performing, flexible, innovative and responsive to shifts in the communities they serve.

What is the Performance Improvement Framework?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) has been designed to help senior leaders in the State Services lead performance improvement in their agencies and across the system.


Who developed the Performance Improvement Framework?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) was developed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, State Services Commission and the Treasury, together with chief executives from the State Services.

Read more about how the central agencies work together on the PIF, on pages 46-47 of the SSC’s Annual Report for 2011.

How was the Performance Improvement Framework developed?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) was developed using leading international private and public sector performance improvement models but tailored to the New Zealand State Services. It was piloted with the Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Education Review Office in 2009. Following the pilot, the first tranche of formal reviews were completed in September 2010. The second tranche of formal reviews were completed in May 2011. Formal reviews are now published as they are completed.

(All formal reviews are available at www.ssc.govt.nz/pif)

See relevant advice to Cabinet:

What benefits will the Performance Improvement Framework provide?

In the short-term benefits include:

  • the introduction of a common performance language and expectations across the State Services
  • more transparent and useful performance information at agency, sector and system level
  • improved decision-making at agency, sector and system level
  • enhanced learning opportunities for State Services agencies, and
  • greater accountability for delivering results and for organisational stewardship.

In the medium term the benefits may include:

  • an improved understanding of sector and system performance themes and issues, and ultimately improved system performance
  • greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services to meet the Government’s strategic policy goals
  • better customer experiences with the services provided meeting or exceeding public expectations in terms of access and value, and
  • stronger working relationships between agencies and within sectors.

How does the Performance Improvement Framework get used?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) is used in three distinct ways:

  • as a diagnostic tool to drive the most impactful improvements in agency and cross agency performance
  • as a tool for central agencies to ensure impactful improvement in overall system performance, and
  • as a tool to provide Ministers, the public and other stakeholders with assurance that the most impactful improvements in agency performance and across the system are occurring.

The PIF model reviews delivery of results and capability. A diagram of the PIF model is attached here as a PDF file

What are the findings so far?

The Performance Improvement Framework reports have identified a number of areas of strong performance, including:

  • Agencies engage well with Ministers, are responsive to the government of the day, and effectively deliver on Government priorities.
  • Open, transparent financial management of government funding.  Agencies demonstrate financial prudence and ensure accountability for the expenditure of taxpayers’ funds.
  • Examples of excellent performance exist across all elements of the framework. Central agencies intend to build on these strengths to support effective practices across the State Services.
  • State Services leaders are openly engaging with the review process, learning from the results of their reviews, and acting on those results to lift their performance.

Four areas for improvement have been identified by central agencies, and they will be working to support agencies to lift their performance in these areas:

  • Increasing their ability to provide advice that is robust over time, and meets the needs of Ministers and the public in the future.
  • Developing a stronger ‘line of sight’ between expenditure and the impacts of this expenditure for New Zealanders.  This includes having better information on the effectiveness of programmes and services and using this information to drive decision-making about investment and improvement.
  • Improved ability to work across agency boundaries so that agencies can better connect policies and services in areas where collaborative effort will improve outcomes for New Zealanders.
  • Improved people management so that agency leaders are more effectively communicating their vision across the organisation, developing appropriate cultures and capability and managing poor performance.


How does the Performance Improvement Framework fit with other programmes and tools?

Together the central agencies (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, State Services Commission and the Treasury) are focussed on requiring better and demonstrable measurement of results, and comparing them to the results the Government is seeking to achieve. Other central agency initiatives and programmes that contribute to performance improvement are:

Who follows up the Performance Improvement Framework review?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) is now entering its third year of operation. Agencies reviewed to date are at various stages of implementation of their responses to their reviews. The State Services Commission and the Treasury work with those agencies to support and monitor their implementation of those responses and to evaluate whether their actions are having the improvement results anticipated.

Follow-up reviews are about to become part of the PIF offering. Follow-up reviews are largely bespoke, but are designed to ensure that performance improvement is underway. Follow-up reviews are done by a PIF lead reviewer and managed by the PIF team at the State Services Commission.

What is the difference between a formal review, a self review and a follow-up review?

A formal review is an independent review undertaken by lead reviewers of an agency’s capability, performance and ability to deliver on Government’s priorities. Formal reviews are scheduled by the State Services Commission and published on the State Services Commission website when completed. Before undertaking a formal review an agency needs to have completed a self review, and have up-to-date surveys from key clients and staff. An agency also needs to be ready to engage in a courageous improvement conversation.

A follow-up review will occur 12-18 months after a formal review.  The formal review is the key PIF offering, together with the follow-up review. State Services agencies who are not scheduled for a formal Review but wish to review their own performance and identify areas of improvement can undertake a self review.

Agencies can use the framework as a self review tool to measure and improve their own performance. Unlike the formal review it does not involve independent reviewers or external peer review. The self review is not published on the State Services Commission website, but an agency may choose to publish their self review on their own website.

There are no set minimum or maximum resource requirements for a self review.  However, it is recommended that a small but mandated team of staff come together for a period of up to 8 weeks, with the aim of preparing a report, including a draft action plan for consideration by the Agency’s leadership team.

More guidance on how to undertake a self review is available here.

What is a lead reviewer?

A critical element in the success of the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) is the lead reviewers. Lead reviewers undertake the PIF reviews for the central agencies.

Lead reviewers are selected for their credibility, strategic agility and understanding of the New Zealand State Services, combined with/or with others providing their commercial and private sector experience. They guide the review and are the authors of the final PIF Report.

What does a PIF review involve?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) review uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Lead reviewers are supported by information and advice from the agency itself, its sector partners, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, State Services Commission and the Treasury. PIF draws on a range of formal accountability and internal management documents, including DICE, BASS, internal audits, engagement surveys, customer satisfaction surveys, Kiwis Count etc.

Desk top analysis is enhanced by interviews and focus groups with management, staff and external stakeholders to build judgements about the key performance issues for each agency. Where it is possible the information is informed by quantitative analysis.

The lead reviewer writes a report which contains a series of judgements about the agency’s performance. These judgements are reflected in a series of ratings for each relevant element in the PIF model.  The agency then prepares a response to the report.

These ratings, associated commentary and the response are included in the final report, which is published upon acceptance by the Central Agency Chief Executives.

Lead reviewers are on site for about 2-3 weeks.

How do you ensure consistency?

The formal review includes a peer review step to ensure that the ratings are applied consistently and in a manner that allows robust comparison. Lead reviewers are peer reviewed by others from the lead reviewer cadre as well as central agency officials.

As well as this peer review step, other review features support consistency and quality, including a common model, a set of indicators to guide ratings and a standardised process.

Who decides which agencies are formally reviewed?

Discussions are held with a range of agencies before the central agencies finalise its multi-year schedule. Decisions about the schedule are based on a set of principles, including the role of agencies in delivering on Government’s priorities, and the size and complexity of the various agencies under consideration. Review scheduling often supports a Chief Executive appointment or reappointment cycle.

The classes of agency that may be included in the formal review are Public Service departments, non-Public Service departments, and Crown entities (Crown agents only). At this stage all Public Service departments are expected to have completed a formal PIF review by 2013. Significant Crown Entities are also expected to complete a PIF review, or some other comparable performance improvement diagnostic, over the next few years.

Reviews of non-Public Service departments occur at the invitation of the Chief Executive, and for Crown entities at the invitation of the board Chair.

If my agency wants to do a formal review what do I need to do?

Discussions about the 2012 schedule have already been held. To be considered for a formal review an agency has to be able to demonstrate that a Performance Improvement Framework review is a part of an organisation’s improvement plan.

Contact the PIF team to be considered for a formal review by emailing: performance.improvement.framework@ssc.govt.nz

If my agency wants to do a self review what do I need to do?

Self review workshops are conducted every quarter. Workshops are focussed on providing an insight into the PIF model, hearing from others who have completed a PIF self review, and understanding in more detail the key lines of enquiry and necessary evidence base.

Email performance.improvement.framework@ssc.govt.nz to find out when the next self review workshop is being held.

How does a Performance Improvement Framework differ from an audit, investigation or inquiry?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) explores how well an agency is performing – it is not an audit, investigation or inquiry.  It is intended as a low cost and quick review of an agency’s results and capability, using evidence-based judgements by experienced independent and trusted advisors. The focus is on identifying the key priority areas for improving performance, as well as revealing good and great performance so that it can be shared across the State Services.

Is the Performance Improvement Framework suitable for a review of Crown Entities?

Yes. A Crown Entity Chief Executive has been a member of the steering group that developed the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF). In addition, a number of the PIF lead reviewers currently or have previously sat on boards of Crown entities and therefore have extensive knowledge of how they operate. Two Crown entities have already completed a formal review.

Is the Performance Improvement Framework Model likely to change?

The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) Model is being refined in the first quarter of 2012. Improvements will be made to the link between PIF and an agency’s business model. Change will also be made to the scope of the financial element and to the extent to which ‘impacts’ need be included in the Government Priorities element.

In addition a “Cluster” or “Sector” version of the model is being developed. Sector or cluster reviews will consider how clearly the outcomes for the sector are defined, and how well the agencies in the sector are working together to achieve those outcomes. This model is scheduled for trial in 2013.

The framework will continue to evolve as we learn more about its robustness and effectiveness.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s