28 May 2014

The latest report from the Performance Improvement Framework reviewers released by the State Services Commission this week assesses the Serious Fraud Office against the capability model.  As a specialist and dedicated agency the SFO is likely to be disappointed that it is largely considered to be “needing development”, and “well placed” in only a  few areas.  In PIF Factsheet 5,  a tabulation of recent agency reviews indicates that the SFO capability is rated marginally better than Careers NZ and the State Services Commission.

The challenge would seem to be getting over itself. The SFO’s value will flow from being able to project much greater influence than a “tiny agency within the complex landscape”.  Its small, introspective, tactical, elitist and unconnected character inhibits the contribution to government that the reviewers expect of it. It needs to be “joined up” with related agencies, providing a strategic and systemic capability. It is criticised for lacking a substantive intelligence capacity, a victim focused commitment to crime prevention, and a drive to making its expertise available across the sector.

The reviewers anticipate that  “..in four years time the SFO will remain respected and even feared for its specialist expertise in detecting, investigating and prosecuting serious and complex financial crime. The SFO value proposition will be very clear, and its story will be something New Zealanders understand, are proud of and link to a feeling of confidence in our financial institutions and the justice system. It will be seen as iconic and as a key element in New Zealand’s protection of its international reputation as a country of high integrity in which corruption and fraud will be found out and held strongly to account. ”  ….

“While something of a beacon of integrity and expertise in its own right, the SFO will also be deeply integrated into the justice and economic sectors and will operate on shared intelligence and embedded multilateral agreements. It will have built strong collaborative relationships across the finance and banking sectors, with professional services companies as well as regulatory and law enforcement agencies and these will facilitate information sharing and early detection. Information sharing and productive strategic exchanges with international counterparts will allow the SFO to keep abreast of global trends and initiatives.”