A more efficient public sector

February 18th, 2009 at 10:38 am by David Farrar

Some people regard this as bad news:

The Ministry of Social Development aims to cut its staff of 9500 by 5 per cent (475) over the next four years by automating some processes and allowing people to apply for some benefits online.

I regard that as very good news.

If we want to lift wages for everyone, then you do it through productivity gains, and online automated processes are one of those ways. And a 5% reduction over four years is pretty modest – I doubt anyone will lose their job – just that some vacancies do not get filled.

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26 Responses to “A more efficient public sector”

  1. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    WTF does a “Ministry of Social Development” DO for the country, and how much worse off than us were our grandparents, for not having one at all?

    In fact, it is probably more a case of the country being one heck of a lot worse off for all the evil social engineering plots hatched by the faceless cultural quislings that infest such an organisation.

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  2. nz capitalist (306 comments) says:

    I would reduce staff numbers by 9500 in four days

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  3. Ross Miller (1,661 comments) says:

    No this is not possible. Greater efficiency and productively at the expense of peoples jobs. That is not the ethic of the Public Service.

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  4. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    “How to Solve Economic Crisis in 5 minutes”

    By Doug Reich

    “Recognize that the role of government is to protect individual rights including property rights by barring the initiation of physical force and repeal all laws and regulations in violation of this principle including any laws that abridge the freedom of production and trade
    In accordance with this principle, restrict the federal government to the following activities:
    The national defense
    Enforcement of domestic criminal law
    The court system to resolve disputes
    Specifically, this would entail cutting all federal government departments except the following:
    Department of State – foreign relations, treaties, etc.
    Department of Justice – settle interstate legal disputes and enforce interstate criminal law issues
    Department of Defense – maintenance of standing military
    Department of the Interior – administer the federal government’s land and buildings
    Department of the Treasury – administer finances of federal government
    Repeal the Federal Reserve Act to eliminate the Federal Reserve System
    Government’s gold stock made redeemable for US Dollars
    US Dollars priced in gold at whatever price necessary not to contract present money supply
    Federal government recognizes gold and silver as legal tender at prevailing market rates
    Allow private banks to replace the Federal Reserve as depository, loan and clearing institutions
    Law recognizes the difference between deposit contract and loan contract, i.e., irregular deposits made with banks do not constitute a de facto property transfer whereas a loan does constitute a transfer of property
    Eliminate all federal taxes and replace with system of voluntary contributions and user fees for government services including fees to uphold contracts, register deeds, etc.
    Auction off all federal lands (including waterways) and buildings except those needed for the above departments
    Everything else left to states
    I predict that the Dow would triple if not more in one day if this program were announced on CNBC. As well, all foreign currencies would plummet relative to the dollar which would force other countries to follow America’s lead and go back on a gold standard.

    Note that this plan would lead to widespread prosperity and happiness and does not cost any money.”

    http://dougreich.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-to-solve-economic-crisis-in-5.html

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  5. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Cutting jobs without cutting services, doesn’t get much better politically than that…

    WTF does a “Ministry of Social Development” DO for the country, and how much worse off than us were our grandparents, for not having one at all?

    Depends if your grandparents were alive before the welfare state was created or not..?

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  6. big bruv (13,217 comments) says:

    Of all the fights that the new gov’t is going to pick this will be the longest, the hardest and the most strongly resisted.

    As I mentioned in a previous post govt’s have always had a devil of a time implementing change into the public service, all have resisted and all have been successful in that resistance.

    Only Douglas and Prebble managed to change the public service and even then they only achieved that change by firing a truck load of them.

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  7. georgebolwing (602 comments) says:

    PhilBest

    The catch in this list is the bit that says “Everything else left to states”, so it is not actually a manifesto for small government, it is a manifeto, applicable only mainly in the US, for a small federal government and large state governments.

    My list of things to do in NZ is something like this:

    a) eliminate middle-class churn: stop taxing people and giving the money back in the form of government-provided goods and service. There are lots of models for doing this, so we don’t have to be prescriptive;

    b) replace current system of income support (unemployment benefit, DPB, sickness benefit etc, Working for families), with an earned income tax credit;

    c) limit government interventions into the market to clear cases of market failure, that can actually be addressed without creating a worse example of government failure;

    d) privatise SOEs, CRIs and other crown entities. Again many models available, but I would favour a system that involved at least partial gifting of shares to taxpayers, they are their assets after all;

    e) contract-out remaining service provision to the private sector wherever possible; and

    f) require all remaining government departments to achieve a minimum productivity improvement (outputs divided by inputs) of 3% per annum.

    I would leave monetary institutions as they are: never been a fan of the monetary cranks and their dubious ideas that paper money containing the picture of dead politicians is the root of all economic and social ills.

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  8. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Hardly surprising the PS has such problems. Their core problems can be laid at the feet of their leadership, they don’t have any. Look at the clowns that governed them over the past years, for fucks sake they couldn’t run a bath. The socialists answer to every problem was to throw money at it, of course the PS has turned into a fat bloated parasite slowly sucking the life out of the country. Money in many cases does not solve the problem but good leadership will.

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  9. baxter (893 comments) says:

    They could start by abolishing all the Commissions and Commissioners that have been created in the last decade or two they are absolutely unnecessary and their functions can easily be overseen by elected M Ps. Our Grandparents were certainly better off without them.

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  10. clintheine (1,563 comments) says:

    Am I right by saying that the Ministry of Social Development was only set up when Labour got back into power last decade when they created it to satisfy Jim Anderton?

    And now it’s grown to 9500??? Bloody hell. If we didn’t need it before we most certainly don’t need it now. Imagine the savings!

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  11. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Am I right by saying that the Ministry of Social Development was only set up when Labour got back into power last decade when they created it to satisfy Jim Anderton?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Social_Development_(New_Zealand)#Organisational_history:

    Originally established as the Old Age Pensions Department. In 1939 the Social Security Department was established to replace the former Pensions Department and absorbed the major portion of the Employment Division of the Department of Labour.

    In 1972 the Department of Social Welfare was formed from the amalgamation of the Social Security Department and the Child Welfare Division of the Department of Education.

    In 1992 as part of the reforms of the National government the Department of Social Welfare was restructured, setting up specific business unit.

    * New Zealand Income Support Service
    * New Zealand Children and Young Persons Service
    * New Zealand Community Funding Agency
    * Social Policy Agency
    * Corporate Office

    In 1998 the Department of Work and Income (branded as Work and Income New Zealand or WINZ) was established with the merger of NZ Income Support with the New Zealand Employment Service, Community Employment Group and Local Employment Co-ordination.

    In 1999 the social policy agency and the corporate office formally became the Ministry of Social Policy. The Children, Young Persons and their Families Agency also became a separate Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. Work and Income New Zealand also took over the management of Student Allowances and in 2000 the Student Loan service, previously this was managed by the Ministry of Education. In later years Studylink was formed to manage Student Loans and Allowances.

    In 2001 Work and Income New Zealand was merged with the Ministry of Social Policy to form the Ministry of Social Development.

    In 2006, the former Department of Child, Youth and Family Services was merged into the Ministry.

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  12. Wycroft (868 comments) says:

    Whatever its constituent parts the fact that its annual wage bill has grown to over half a billion dollars is ridiculous for a country of this size. This should be the just the first round of job cuts.

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    Heard some nonesense on the radio about “why is the government trying to cut public sector jobs when there is so much unemployment already?”

    Each public sector job costs between 1.5 and 3 private sector ones. The state cant create jobs by just employing people.

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  14. insider (1,000 comments) says:

    How are people going to apply for things online if they are having to pawn their computers, playstations and mobiles? :-)

    What’s the bet that, like most other promised savings from govt initiated IT projects, they never eventuate.

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  15. clintheine (1,563 comments) says:

    Ok, so it has been around for a bit eh? Although technically it was set up as we know it quite recently. And boy oh boy what a blow out in staff numbers.

    Heather Roy was right, we must cut cut cut. 10% is a start…. if anybody believes that a Government must be a major employer then they may as well book their tickets to Harare :-)

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  16. nz capitalist (306 comments) says:

    Little more than a name change, Clint.

    Yes, the staff numbers are a disgrace and as has been mentioned there will be a battle by Sir Humphrey to retain them, alas.

    Any meaningful change in Public Service staff numbers really has to be done by a Government on its first day in Office with the newly sworn in Prime Minister getting the heads of Departments together and telling them to tell all their staff to clear out their desks as 40,000 people have just been sacked (but will be paid until the end of the month in lieu of notice).

    Due to the ‘first day in office’ requirement the horse has somewhat bolted for the next few years.

    Even the Libertarianz have a soft-cock policy of ’5 year transitional’ -whatever…sheesh! if ever there was a recipe for failure it is to have a ‘five-year-setting-up-a-committee-to-investigate’ nonsense; but other than that all the Libertarianz policies are excellent.

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  17. grumpyoldhori (2,410 comments) says:

    What the hell are you people on about, it is bloody easy to get rid of so called public servants, first fire the minister, second set up a parallal dept. with a real
    mean lean attitude., thirdly, just stop funding the original dept.

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  18. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    this bloody thing has had more names than Ive had hot dinners in its life And its been a drain on the taxpayer from day one.

    I agree with comments about reducing the number and size of governemnt departments. Theyve become a growth industry in the last couple od decades that cost plenty and produced nothing.

    Time of Rodders to take the axe to them . First step is send half of them home on full pay form 3 months and tell them to get a new job.

    then move the other half out of Bob Jones over priced Wellington buildings into cheaper accomodation.

    Then in 6 months send half of the remainder home.

    There will be no adverse effects on the tax payer only happiness Time to examine every and I do mean every idea the old days of No you cant do that are well and truly over and gone

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  19. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    LOL all these folk have redundancy entitlements. I suspect exiting public servants is cash negative for the year you do it. I dont think many of you actually deal with employees or employment law.

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  20. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    In the long run it would be cheaper than just keeping on keeping on Fact is Ive run out of money and patience where tax is concerned and I suspect many of my fellow taxpayer have also

    We cant afford the luxury of these dead weight costs any more.

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  21. Tauhei Notts (1,602 comments) says:

    I dislike the thought that beneficiaries might enrol for benefits by use of the internet. Some will then be able to plead ignorance when they apply for benefits that they are not entitled to. A suitable excuse for benefit fraud.
    To reduce expense we must;
    (a) Make benefits a privilege, as distinct from a right.
    (b) Remove any rights to privacy when you apply for a benefit. The savings this would result in from reduction in fraudulent transactions would be enormous.
    (c) The privilege of receiving a benefit would be forfeited by anybody threatening an employee of the Social Welfare Dept. It is incredible that they need security officers and they are handing out money, not taking it in.
    (d) The term beneficiary will be used and not that dreadfully sick expression “client”. A client is somebody that pays you money, not somebody who bludges money off you.
    (e) Each beneficiary is to provide a very simple budget; like how much will go on food, how much on fun and how much on clothing; something simple that requires a little thought – not much thought – just a little thought.
    (f) Beneficiaries will be encouraged to thank taxpayers for their largesse. This is because few beneficiaries realise where their dosh ultimately comes from.

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  22. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Every time they invent a machine that can do the work of 3 men, there are cheers – but not from those 3 men!

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  23. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Kiwiblog comments at their finest:
    (Paraphrasing slightly)

    Philbest at 10:43am:
    “Well, I ain’t never heard a no “Ministry of Social Development, so it carn’t be doin’ nothin’ any good!”

    NZ capitalist at 10:43am:
    “Well, I ain’t never heard a no “Ministry of Social Development, so it carn’t be doin’ nothin’ any good!”

    baxter at 11:18am:
    “Well, I ain’t never heard a no “Ministry of Social Development, so it carn’t be doin’ nothin’ any good!”

    Clintheine at 1:22am:
    “Well, I ain’t never heard a no “Ministry of Social Development, so it carn’t be doin’ nothin’ any good!”

    gd at 1:45pm:
    “Well, I ain’t never heard a no “Ministry of Social Development, so it carn’t be doin’ nothin’ any good!”

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  24. Banana Llama (1,105 comments) says:

    Every time they invent a machine that can do the work of 3 men, there are cheers – but not from those 3 men because they are busy learning how to operate and service the machine.

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  25. Fred (176 comments) says:

    georgebolwing I would add

    Seed the start-up new investment banks, depositor owned, match deposits dollar for dollar to a certain level to start up investment banks to lend to it’s depositors in specialised areas, such as horticulture, aquaculture, etc anything except residential property (commercial property would be OK). Set up boards made up of experts in the field, and subsidise the infrastructure, an office, and computer systems. “Bank in a box”. This is an example of good Government spending. Establish reporting standards, and allow zero reserves up to a certain size, at which point the Government gets paid back.

    The problems we face are caused by bad banking regulation and practice. The solution is in free enterprise. Don’t bail out the old start new. No Government guarantees it’s “buyer beware”.

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  26. Marco11 (2 comments) says:

    To be fair most of the 500 jobs will come out of the call centres as Work and Income and StudyLink try and drive a significant portion of their clients online. Work and Income estimate that with the aging population at least 25% of their clients can be online in the next 4 years reducing the need for Superannuation case managers.

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