16 September 2013

The Performance Improvement Framework report on the State Services Commission was published last week.  SSC is the 29th  department subjected to the evolving PIF measurements. There has been a notable absence of media commentary about the review.  Perhaps that is not surprising as the content seems to reflect a perception shared by many long time public servants.

The reviewers seem to have found it difficult to be more than moderately complimentary.  In the PIF scorecard rating, of the 18 elements making up the critical areas, only three scored a light green – “well placed”, not excellent – with 14 others as “needing development” (and one unable to be rated).  PIF Fact Sheet 5 on rating the Six Dimensions of System Improvement indicates that only one agency previously has been graded more unfavourably.

The reviewers repeated in various ways the need for SSC to move from talking the talk to walking the talk.  Ironically SSC gets recognition for championing the PIF reviews with which Ministers are apparently well pleased, but is criticised for undercooking its responsibility for providing the leadership needed to give effect to the changes that it advocates. “…It is essential that SSC itself models the collaborative behaviour and culture it seeks from the State Services … SSC must demonstrate it has won the hearts and minds of its own staff…” “…It needs to demonstrate exemplary performance and deliver some real gains…” “The HOSS must communicate…”  “The HOSS must lead…” “The HOSS must be the Boss…”  “…The HOSS needs to be more visible…” “The HOSS must lead by walking the talk…”

A Minister is quoted as saying that the aspiration for SSC is “…a move from a peer relationship to more of a grumpy head office…”