11 May 2011

Blog entries yesterday and the day before, have characteristics in common.  One is how systematic evaluation can debunk political rhetoric and another is the intellectual alignment of the New Zealand report on the 2011 OECD Sustainable Governance Indicators, and the Government’s Review of Expenditure on Policy Advice.

New Zealand’s economic performance can be a football, frequently kicked about by opposition parties when criticising policies being implemented by governments.  The SGI indices gather qualitative and quantitative data in a fully transparent way that shows New Zealand is a world leader in its capacity for “dynamic and adaptable policy making…”

Commentators anticipated that the Policy expenditure review would disclose  poorly managed services including waste and overstaffing.  The findings, possibly because they lack such drama, have received minimal media coverage. Excluding support for foreign policy, expenditure on policy advice fell by 0 .6% in real terms since 2005/2006.  Some areas of government are exceptionally busy and significant investment is urgently needed to avoid dysfunction. Justified concerns were in areas of policy leadership, coordination across government, and policy thinking that was not being done because of a focus on delivering government priorities.

Dr Graham Scott chaired the Policy expenditure review.   In what appears to be a contemporaneous assignment for the Scott household, Professor Claudia Scott was one of the experts who supported an international board of policy experts and academics review the New Zealand data and its evaluation for the SGIs.