Building a first-class Ministry

Shaping our future

Over the last three years, the Ministry has laid the foundations for building a first-class policy ministry, based on a professional services firm model.

This means we work in a flexible matrix structure, using our knowledge and expertise to deliver high-quality advice, while continuing to invest in our specialist knowledge and expertise. We are able to adapt quickly to meet the demands of the day and manage our available people and time to work collaboratively to meet a demanding work programme.

Our aim is to build on this foundation and seize hold of our full potential to become a first-class policy ministry, which consistently delivers work of the highest standard. Our Shaping Our Future programme provides the framework for achieving this. Each year, we refresh the programme priorities and in 2012 we have four flagship projects.

1. Creating a shared understanding of the Ministry’s role

A shared understanding of our role as a ministry and what it means to be a first-class policy ministry will underpin a strong organisational culture and give a strongly shared direction to people in the organisation. This will enable us to provide clear messages to stakeholders on our objectives.

We will also undertake a targeted programme that includes input from key stakeholders, to ensure we develop a clear and succinct expression of our role.

2.  Developing leadership capability

High-quality leadership is a key to success. The Ministry’s leadership capability programme will provide all managers with a thorough grounding, common practice and shared language of the approach that we take to management and leadership in the Ministry. It will enable managers to fulfil their core management responsibilities, consistent with working in a professional services organisation. It will provide an opportunity to deepen both support networks and our approach to collaborative work and positive engagement within the Ministry. It builds on the ‘Lifting our Leadership’ work developed in 2011.

3.  Improving policy capability

People and knowledge are the cornerstones of our ability to be a first-class policy ministry.

As we bring new graduates into our adviser cohort, a new, structured policy adviser development programme will enable them to build the skills they need to deliver high-quality policy advice at pace. This programme will be important to the Ministry’s ability to attract high-quality staff at entry level. It will build the Ministry’s reputation as a good place to work, and as a contributor to public sector policy advice capability.

This programme will complement the ongoing ‘Striving for Excellence’ initiative which was developed in 2011. ‘Striving for Excellence’ sets out our professional development approach for all our staff.

4. Managing our reputation

The Ministry’s reputation will be built on doing our core business really well, having a shared understanding of our role and in engaging successfully with our stakeholders. We will proactively pursue opportunities for engagement and leadership arising from our sector policy work, and will build trust and confidence through critical thinking and reasoned analysis.

Managing our costs

The Ministry has implemented a number of strategies to ensure we are able to manage within our appropriations from Parliament. We have adopted a flexible matrix operating model that enables us to focus our resources on the highest priority issues for the government.

We have managed down our staffing numbers, largely through attrition. We have also addressed our cost structure through a process that refined our staffing structure. This reduced the number of manager and principal adviser positions within the Ministry and created a more appropriate organisational structure.

We have also, voluntarily, participated in government benchmarking exercises to help us better understand our cost structures and identify areas where we may be able to achieve efficiencies over the next two years.

Assessing organisational capability and health

The Ministry uses a range of internal measures to assess its capability and health and to measure progress towards its goals.

The headline measures on which we provide year-by-year comparative data and information in our annual reports are as follows:

Core capacity

  • the total number of person-years applied, including permanent and contract staff, in our three broad activity areas of policy advice, specialist support and business support
  • a comparison of our actual profile with a desired profile of staff experience and attributes for the changing role of the Ministry
  • the results of any external reviews conducted on the quality or efficiency of our core operating and information systems

Equal employment opportunities

  • the Ministry is committed to inclusive work practices and culture. As a member of the New Zealand public service, the Ministry bases appointments on merit, while recognising the employment aspirations of Maori, ethnic and minority groups, women and people with disabilities

Organisational health

  • trends in Gallup staff engagement survey results
  • other measures of health, such as turnover, will be reported if trends demand it

    Progress towards our Shaping Our Future programme goals

    • there is an improving trend in New Zealand Institute for Economic Research audits of the quality of our policy papers
    • a baseline is set, and there is an improving trend in feedback from the Minister, central agencies and key Crown entities on the quality of our policy advice, the clarity of roles of each player and our contribution to Crown entity performance
    • a project prioritisation and resource allocation system which meets our needs is in place and operating effectively
    • a greater proportion of our effort is going into higher priority work
    • everyone in the Ministry has a professional development plan in place
      there is improvement in answers to Gallup staff engagement survey questions about the individual goals of Shaping our Future.

    Managing in a changing operating environment

    The Ministry manages a broad range of risks that can affect our business, including organisational risks arising from our strategic direction and our operating environment. The Ministry’s risk approach is implemented through business processes such as strategy and priority setting, policy advice, operational planning, monitoring and reporting, and project management.

    Regular reviews of the Ministry’s risk management framework ensure risks are continually identified and managed. Organisational risks identified through this process are incorporated into the Ministry’s development goals under the Shaping Our Future programme.

    Overseeing risks is the responsibility of the Ministry Leadership Team, which receives monthly reports on any work programme risks. Progress on the work programme is regularly reviewed through the weekly meetings of the Ministry Leadership Team and the Transport Managers’ Group, and the Minister of Transport. Advice on risk management is also provided by the Ministry’s Performance and Risk Advisory Group.

    Our major risk is associated with a failure to deliver on our core role and to not be responsive to changing demands and the constrained fiscal environment. The previous section describing Shaping Our Future is our primary mitigation strategy – to build a flexible, high-performing organisation.

    The Ministry has in place emergency management plans and a business continuity plan which can be activated if there is a building, local, regional or national emergency. In the event of a national emergency, we play a coordination role with transport agencies, providing strategic leadership to the sector to ensure it can respond quickly and effectively in an emergency. The Ministry manages this risk by maintaining the Transport National Emergency Response Plan which governs the work of the Transport Response Team.

    The Transport Response Team managed by the Ministry ensures the Ministry and transport agencies provide coordinated advice in a whole-of-government response to a national emergency. This plan continues to develop, incorporating lessons learned from emergency exercises and events.

    Departmental capital and asset management intentions

    Each year the Ministry prepares a capital programme to ensure the Ministry has the infrastructure required to fulfil its functions. The draft programme is subject to approval by management. The assets of the Ministry and the capital programme are detailed briefly below.

    Property, plant and equipment

    The Ministry of Transport operates from two offices, with the main site, and the majority of the staff, located in Wellington. All of its premises are leased, so the majority of the assets are leasehold improvements, computer equipment, fixtures and fittings.

    Leasehold improvements

    The Ministry has no plans to incur significant leasehold improvement expenditure in the next four years. The Ministry moved into its Wellington office in April 2006 and into its Auckland office in July 2005.

    Computer equipment

    The Ministry has a three-to-five-year rolling replacement programme for computer equipment.

    Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome

    The Ministry owns the operational infrastructure at Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome.

    Fixtures and fittings

    All of the Ministry’s offices are fully equipped, but we need to make small ongoing purchases of replacement or additional equipment.

    Intangible assets

    The Ministry has an investment in its own operational systems. A programme is in place to ensure systems continue to be fit-for-purpose.

    Proposed capital programme



    Property, plant and equipment 

    500  144  50  100  140 
    Intangible assets- software  300  159  450  410  210 
    Total  800  303  500  510  350 

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