Building a first-class Ministry

The Ministry’s purpose is to ensure the transport system helps New Zealand thrive. To focus our efforts, we have set ourselves a greatest imaginable challenge to ‘create the environment to double the value from transport initiatives’ over the next five years. Focussing on doubling the value from each piece of work we undertake is a significant challenge, and will require us to be innovative, to provide leadership to the sector and to deliver results.

The Ministry operates as a professional services organisation. That means that we have a flexible matrix structure that enables us to adapt quickly to meet the demands of the day and manage our people and time to work collaboratively to meet a demanding work programme.

As a Ministry, we want to focus our organisational development efforts on a small number of initiatives that will make the most difference to both our own performance and that of the transport system. Consistent with the conclusions of the recently completed Performance Improvement Framework Review, over the next two years the Ministry will focus on lifting our performance in three key areas:

1. Strategic capability

We will strengthen our strategic capability. This will include strengthening our focus on the longer term issues for transport, how these may impact on the system over time, and how the system can best respond to them. We will also enhance our understanding of the longer term opportunities to both lift the productivity of the transport sector, its contribution to economic growth and the overall wellbeing of New Zealanders.

2. Sector leadership and engagement

Our work to lift our strategic capability will support the Ministry to take a stronger leadership role within the transport sector. This will include leading the sector to establish a shared direction for the transport system and its development over time. Stakeholders have indicated their support for the Ministry taking a stronger leadership role, and for the need for greater clarity around the roles of the Ministry and other transport agencies (particularly the NZ Transport Agency in the land transport area).

3. Building policy quality

We will review our policy systems, capabilities and quality control mechanisms to identify the areas for improvement that will enable us to consistently deliver policy advice of the highest quality for Ministers. We will continue to externally benchmark the quality of our advice through the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research each year in order to understand how our advice compares with other agencies. We will augment that understanding with the results of the new policy benchmarking work that the Treasury is leading across government policy agencies. This will give us a clear understanding of our performance relative to other agencies.

Managing in a changing operating environment

The Ministry’s People Plan

Recruiting and retaining a high quality workforce is central to the Ministry achieving its goals. Our People Plan provides an overview of the initiatives we have in place to manage capacity and capability over the next four years, including how we nurture and grow our staff, and how we attract and retain great people to work with us. We want to create a healthy flow into, up and out of the Ministry. We have a deliberate recruitment plan and competitive selection processes in place, along with targeted development programmes such as Lifting our Leadership and our applied Policy Adviser Development programme. We are confident we will have the necessary workforce capability to deliver on the Ministry’s work programme over the next four years and beyond.

Shared business services

In early 2012 the Ministry, along with the NZ Transport Agency, Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, established a joint initiative to develop a shared services programme for the delivery of a range of business services. The programme is led by a Steering Group reporting to the Chief Executive’s Transport Sector Leadership Group.

The programme will provide a single view of functional business service delivery. It will include collaboration and common processes, shared capability and expertise, economies of scale, improved productivity, and increased agility and responsiveness.

The programme has had some early achievements in a number of areas and 2013 to 2016 will see a step change in how our business services are delivered.

Risk management

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. 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 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. Overseeing strategic risk is the responsibility of the Ministry Leadership Team.

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 priorities under the Shaping our Future programme. Our primary mitigation strategy is to build a flexible, high-performing organisation.

The Ministry also has a well established Performance and Risk Advisory Group. This group provides advice to the Ministry Leadership Team on matters of strategic risk, and on performance improvement. The advice aims to challenge and complement Ministry leadership thinking, and has helped shape the success of the Ministry.

Managing our costs

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

We have also voluntarily participated in government benchmarking exercises to help us better understand how our cost structures compare with others and where we could focus to find better value. We will continue to do this and to seek innovative ways of working to enable us to deliver value for money.

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 in the system 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.

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 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

50 100 140 95
Intangible assets- software 450 410 210 360
Total 500 510 360 455


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.

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

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