Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will become the Government’s informal Minister for Delivery, thanks to a newly created “implementation unit” within the Government’s powerful Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, or DPMC.
The move comes after a term of Government in which several big-ticket plans fell apart as they were implemented – most notably KiwiBuild and light rail in Auckland – and is inspired by a unit set up by British PM Tony Blair.
The Government has a problem. It has failed to deliver on scores and scores of promises – from massive to minor.
The primary responsibility for ensuring promises are carried out is Ministers and their offices. That is in fact the main reason they exist. The job of a Minister is to make sure their commitments are carried out. Their office staff should have every commitment written down, and be doing monthly reports on progress.
And a competent PMs Office should co-ordinate all the Ministerial office and be advising the PM as to progress, and where there are problems. This is a core function of PMs Offices in the past.
To have to set up a unit in DPMC to do what Ministerial Offices and the PMO should have been doing for the last four years is a vote of no confidence in Ministers and their staff.
And having Grant Robertson take responsibility for it is an effective vote of no confidence in the PM and her office. Making sure the Government delivers its agenda is the job of the PM. I know when John Key was PM he met every single Minister every (off memory) three months in a one on one detailed meeting to discuss their goals and their progress.
It isn’t just me saying this is a sign of Ministerial incompetence. Danyl Mclauchlan writes at The Spinoff:
Which raises an awkward question. If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office.
Taxpayers spend $73 million on Ministerial Services so Ministers have offices and staff who can deliver policy.