A productivity commission

March 10th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A that will run the ruler over government departments has been given a cautious welcome by the public servants’ union.

Details of how the commission will work have yet to be thrashed out, but Finance Minister ’s office said it would be based on the Australian commission that has operated since 1998.

That body covers the whole economy, but has a specific role in preparing regular reports on efficiency, effectiveness and service delivery in government agencies.

Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott said a similar body in New Zealand would help monitor performance, but would need a clear definition of how state sector productivity should be measured.

Very pleased to see the supportive. The Australian Productivity Commission has played a useful and significant role in growing the Australian economy and has bipartisan support.

The Government is poised to announce the creation of the commission – part of a confidence and supply agreement with ACT – this month.

Mr English’s office said it would support “the goals of higher productivity growth across the economy and improvements in the quality of regulation”.

It would “work closely with and be closely modelled on” the Australian commission, which is a research, advisory and performance monitoring agency that covers economic, social and environmental issues.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday the commission in New Zealand would be mostly focused on the public sector, suggesting it will play a role in looming reforms. …

Ms Pilott said the commission could fill a gap in how public sector productivity was measured, something the PSA had been lobbying for.

finance spokesman David Cunliffe said there was merit in having a commission, but would want to carefully scrutinise what it was measuring and how.

The commission will not be hugely effective if it is seen as partisan. This does not mean both major parties have to agree with everything the commission does, but it means respect for its work.

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13 Responses to “A productivity commission”

  1. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    The commission will not be hugely effective if it is seen as partisan. This does not mean both major parties have to agree with everything the commission does, but it means respect for its work.

    And presumably there would be a better chance of that happening if there is ‘balanced’ membership of the Commission e.g. union membership, business membership, like the Aussie one.

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    OMG Not another Commission. Look at the ones we have now.

    Families
    Human Rights
    Commerce
    Securities
    Children
    Wimmin
    Lotteries Oh well that one pays money so it can stay

    the list goes on and on

    WE DONT ANY MORE

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  3. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    David I do not think the PSA is giving a cautious welcome because it thinks this is a good idea. I rather suspect it is doing so because dismissing something before you know the details makes the dismisser’s ideological objection obvious.

    Of course the PSA is going to object to the Productivity Commission’s proposals. All of them, except possibly (even more) subsidy for education – if the commission even tries that on. More output per unit of labour will be achieved mostly at the expense of a union’s members.

    How do you raise productivity? Well, you can buy a bunch of equipment that puts people out of work. Unions always oppose this. You can reorganise the public sector to reduce duplication and achieve any given set of tasks with fewer people. Unions oppose this. You can rid the labour market of regulation that makes it hard to hire and hard to fire. Again the unions will oppose this.

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  4. Pete George (21,804 comments) says:

    At first glance”Productivity Commission” sounds like an oxymoron.

    Should it be called a Productivity De-commission?

    But if it sorts out all the wheat from the chaff in other commissions it could be worthwhile.

    Labour finance spokesman David Cunliffe said there was merit in having a commission, but Labour would want to carefully scrutinise what it was measuring and how.

    It’s refreshing to see a cautiously positive approach from Labour.

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  5. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    a ‘razor-gang’..by any other name..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  6. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..the list goes on and on

    WE DONT ANY MORE..”

    (heh..!..

    i do so love the smell of a freshly-baked typo/an example of involuntary-self-deprecating-humour..

    don’t you..?)

    phil(whoar.co.nz

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,124 comments) says:

    My first reaction was similar to lastmanstanding’s: “not another bloody quango”.

    Maybe it’ll work, but it’s first task: define an agreed meaning for “productivity”.

    Such things tend to be rather like the KPIs in an employment contract… great for the people making widgets, not so good if you’re trying to define the worth of people whose output is not as easily measurable or even, in some cases, defined.

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  8. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    “Maybe it’ll work, but it’s first task: define an agreed meaning for “productivity”.”

    Delivering (a) the same level of good and services with less people or (b) more of the same with the same number of people. In the case of government the only correct answer is (a).

    Governments are so poor at using capital and lie about the costs that capital productivity measures are largely meaningless in their case.

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  9. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    @ Rex if you cant measure it you cant manage it. My guess is we can get by without any of the folks in the public sector whose output isnt measurable.

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  10. Sean (294 comments) says:

    We already have a Productivity Commission – its known here as the ACT Party manifesto. The problem is getting the recommendations implemented…

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  11. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    If they ignore the productivity of our territorial local authorities and their consultants they are fiddling while Rome burns.

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  12. reid (15,530 comments) says:

    It would make a lot of sense if they were serious, to make their first task to measure the productivity of Cabinet and Parliament and publish the KPIs and the year-on-year results, published each quarter.

    Also make the KPIs and the measurements subject to public comment and each year, the best ten KPI addition/revision suggestions get incorporated.

    Oh, and the politicians don’t get a veto.

    Start with the value of having Bellamy’s + the parliamentary swimming pool + who knows what else when there are a multitude of e.g. good eateries within short distance and everyone else has to provide their own lunch (+ dinner if they work late) + fitness etc; so why shouldn’t they?

    Sure it’s trivial, but it makes a powerful symbolic point.

    Yes gentleman, fuck your velvet-clad bottoms. No more for you because FFS, we’ve sat through years of your wastage on both sides and quite frankly, time’s up.

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  13. jackp (668 comments) says:

    I am curious to see who is on the commission. If they are a bunch of academics employed by the state, then the commission is useless. It has to be a well chosen committee and that is where the focus should be.

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