Over the years we have undertaken a wide range of projects for various government agencies. Virtually all have had a strong strategic component, drawing on our understanding of public management, governance, and the key policy drivers for the client organisation. Our work has ranged from border protection and user pays issues for Customs to advising on the establishment of the then new Department of Work and Income, to writing what was for a number of years the definitive report on the governance and management of Crown entities, to a series of reports for the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology informing its work on science policy and the role of Crown Research Institutes. It has included organisational reviews, board manuals and the pros and cons of privatising major government services.
Governance has been the most interesting aspect of all this work. The wide range of different projects we have undertaken has given us deep insights into the relationship between organisational structure and performance across the public sector. It has allowed us to think through the strengths and weaknesses of New Zealand's use of new public management and the respective roles of central government, local government, the private sector and the voluntary and community sector.
This sits at the heart of the current work we're doing on governance-related issues. The global financial crisis, and the related impacts on the fiscal capacity of central governments, including New Zealand's, is leading (perhaps forcing) a rethink of the role and capacity of central governments.
So that we are well placed to advise on what these changes mean, and the opportunities they offer, we are keeping in close touch with initiatives internationally such as the new English emphasis on decentralisation; and innovations in service delivery (examples of which are Lambeth Borough's highly innovative Cooperative Council project, British Columbia's Task Force on Enhancing the Tools for Problem Solving in Regions and Australian reviews of the role and function of local government). MDL’s Executive Director Peter McKinlay is a member of the ACELG led review team working for the Local Government Association of South Australia).
The challenge now is how governments engage effectively at the community level - who are their partners in provision? and how do they balance the need for innovation and flexibility with the currently strong emphasis on compliance and performance measurement?
Contact us to learn more about how you can use our experience to help you work through what these sorts of changes mean for your organisation.