1 February 2012
Is it misguided idealism that I am disappointment at the apparent lack of interest shown by more than 70% of State Services agency chief executives to model integrity?
Two years ago the State Services Commissioner introduced a requirement that the chief executives of Public Service departments and Crown entities ( excluding tertiary education institutes and Crown research institutes ) would publish their expenses, travel, hospitality and gifts after each half calendar-year. Media reports at the time suggested that some were resistant although disclosure of officials’ benefits has long been the practice in Canadian and United States jurisdictions and the British Civil Service adopted frequent disclosure obligations on a broad range of senior officers in 2010.
The State Services Commissioner’s guidance is that “… Chief executives … are expected to disclose their expenses every six months and make this information publicly available on their agency’s website and data.govt.nz
Chief executives were notified in November 2010 and again in June 2011 of what was required. The effect was that 89 agencies complied returning their chief executive expenses for July – December 2010, and 109 published the data for the January – June 2011 period. A number those agencies were from the wider State sector, and like the Auditor General, published a return although not subject to the Commissioner’s mandate.
Currently there are 115 “qualifying” agencies – 32 departments, 45 Crown agents (including 20 district health boards) 21 autonomous Crown entities and 17 independent Crown entities.
The Commissioner’s guidance anticipated that disclosures for July – December 2011 would be published by the end of January. Seventy nine agencies have not responded – the State Services Commission, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Treasury are among those apparently defaulting agencies.
Autonomous Crown entities and independent Crown entities have been the most responsive with almost 50% publishing within the timeframe; 20% of DHBs have responded, as have 40% of the other Crown agents, but only 11% of departments.
Chief executives are responsible for imbuing their staff with the spirit of service, managing their agencies with efficiency and effectiveness, implementing the Government’s open government and better public services policies, and as leaders, walking the talk. Showing a nonchalance regarding a high profile transparency practice is not a good look.
(Update 1800hrs:  Now at 46 agency returns – another 5 by Departments)
2 Feb 2011 – Correction:  Apparently I am wrong.  Agencies are expected to provide returns by 3 February.  Currently at  63 (of 115)  now posted with one day to go.