Part 4: Developing Policy

Co-ordination and Collaboration in the Criminal Justice Sector.

Key Findings

The Ministry’s process for evaluating proposals for new funding from the criminal justice agencies is well defined, transparent, co-ordinated, and accepted by the agencies concerned.

A protocol governs decisions on leadership of policy work with implications for the sector. In practice, responsibility for leading specific policy tasks falls to the agency administering the relevant legislation. In other cases, it is decided by convention or agreements, or, in some circumstances, through a more formal process. This arrangement works well.

Not all agencies routinely consult on their draft policy work programmes.

Agencies have taken some positive steps to co-ordinate their research and evaluation work. Some work programmes are shared, helping to avoid possible duplication, and the agencies have collaborated on some projects. The Ministry has promoted research work in the sector, but limited sector-wide research is being undertaken.


Agencies should routinely consult on their draft policy work programmes to share information, identify common areas of interest, plan collaboration, and complement planned projects.

The reporting and accountability structure for the Crime Reduction Strategy could be used as a model for the oversight and implementation of other major Government strategies or legislative changes that have sector-wide implications in the future.

Sector Chief Executives should promote active and routine collaboration between research units in each of their agencies, in order to avoid duplication and provide an opportunity for considering what sector-wide research needs to be undertaken.


In 1995 the Government established the Ministry of Justice as a policy department, and the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections as operational departments. This restructuring led to each agency, along with the Police, having its own policy unit providing policy advice to its own Minister from its own agency perspective. The autonomy of each agency within a network of related functions and roles has created challenges for co-ordination and collaboration.

We looked at three aspects of the policy development process for the sector:

  • Purchase advice – how well is the purchase advice function for the sector being carried out?
  • Policy advice – how well does the sector work together in developing policy advice for Ministers?
  • Research and evaluation – do the agencies undertake sector-wide research and evaluation?

Providing Purchase Advice on Proposed New Spending

The purpose of purchase advice is to assist Ministers in making decisions on the level and priorities for Government spending on justice sector activities in order to achieve agreed outcomes.

The Ministry advises Ministers primarily on new funding proposals submitted by agencies at each Budget round. It also advises Ministers on the expenditure implications of policy proposals developed over the year (which are often associated with submissions to Cabinet).

On the basis of information provided by the agencies, the Ministry provides an independent view on the merits of funding bids, having regard to priorities across the sector. This role enables the Ministry to present Ministers with a broader perspective than that of individual agencies, having regard to the interests of the criminal justice system as a whole. The Ministry provides policy advice in relation to eight votes.5

The Ministry’s role is governed by a 1997 protocol, which:

  • outlines principles to be followed by agencies and the Ministry;
  • specifies the roles of the Ministry, sector departments and the central agencies;
  • defines the scope of the Ministry’s role; and
  • describes the process that the Ministry will follow in analysing and reporting on proposals for new funding.

At the same time as providing advice on funding proposals from other agencies in the sector, the Ministry itself submits bids for additional funding as the need arises. To ensure impartiality, Ministry advisers follow the same processes as for bids from other agencies, and obtain an external review of their analysis. The Ministry’s purchase advice process is set out in Figure 2 on the next page.

Figure 2
The Ministry’s Purchase Advice Process

Each justice sector agency, including the Ministry, provides the Ministry’s purchase advice team with their draft new initiative bids.
The Ministry forms a view on the draft bid, and the Treasury is given an opportunity to comment.
Officials from the Ministry’s purchase advice team meet with officials from the agencies to discuss the bids.*
The Ministry provides officials from the agencies with a draft of its advice to Ministers, and gives the agencies an opportunity to comment.
The Ministry ranks the bids across the sector as high, medium, or low, based on an established assessment framework.
All justice sector Ministers receive:
• a copy of the Ministry’s advice and a summary table; and
• any bids the operational agencies choose to submit independently.
Justice sector Ministers meet to decide which bids should proceed.

* A manager in another justice sector agency reviews the Ministry’s own budget initiatives for Votes: Justice and Treaty Negotiations.

Although potentially contentious, the Ministry’s role in providing independent advice to Ministers on the merits of funding bids from sector agencies is widely accepted. Those agencies we consulted had no concerns about the way the Ministry performed its role.

Working Together To Develop Policy Advice

Principles for Effective Collaboration

The criminal justice agencies have to work together on a range of policy development issues. These include major projects such as the development of the Sentencing and Parole legislation, and implementation of the Government’s Crime Reduction Strategy.

In conjunction with its decision to reorganise the sector by disestablishing the Department of Justice and creating the Ministry of Justice and a number of operational departments, Cabinet directed the relevant Chief Executives to develop protocols on:

. . . the formulation of policy advice in areas of mutual interest between the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Courts, the Department of Corrections, the Police and the Department of Social Welfare.

These protocols6 were designed to:

  • recognise areas of mutual interest and establish an expectation to consult;
  • provide transparency in policy work programmes and specify the exchange of information on delivery performance to occur as a matter of course;
  • provide a process for the resolution of disputes;
  • prevent papers being submitted to Ministers without adequate consultation between agencies on matters of mutual interest; and
  • consider the use of seconded staff on a regular basis between the agencies involved.

Policy Work Programmes

We expected agencies to be sharing their proposed policy work programmes routinely, so that they were:

  • kept informed about work priorities across the sector;
  • aware of potential impacts from policy work planned by other agencies;
  • able to modify their own programmes to avoid duplication or to complement the work of other agencies; and
  • able to take advantage of opportunities to share resources or otherwise be involved in, or consulted as part of, specific policy work.

There is a general agreement among the justice sector agencies to exchange work programmes at a General Manager level. In 2002, the Ministry exchanged draft policy work programmes with the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections.7 However, the operational agencies do not share draft programmes among themselves.

Leading Policy Development

Much of the policy development work in the sector is concerned with day-to- day operational matters, and so is a natural responsibility of the operational agencies.

A protocol governs decisions on leadership of policy work with implications for the sector. In practice, responsibility for leading specific policy tasks falls to the agency administering the relevant legislation. In other cases, it is decided by convention or agreement, or, in some circumstances, through a more formal process. This arrangement works well.

Major policy development initiatives can require significant involvement from a range of sector agencies. Recent examples have been the development of the Sentencing and Parole legislation (see Part Seven on pages 77-101) and the development of the Crime Reduction Strategy.

The work on the Sentencing and Parole legislation was led by the Ministry, but with major contributions from the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections. The relevant operational agencies are responsible for implementing the various parts of the Government’s Crime Reduction Strategy, while the Ministry is required to report on implementation of the strategy as a whole.

The Crime Reduction Strategy

In May 2001, the Government agreed to the implementation of its Crime Reduction Strategy, led by the Ministry. The strategy is a staged implementation plan for a co-ordinated whole-of-government approach to the prevention of, and response to, crime. It is the key current policy initiative for the criminal justice sector.

The Ministry is responsible for leading and co-ordinating the sector’s implementation of the Government’s strategy. A joint Ministers group and a senior officials group oversee the implementation of the strategy as a whole.

Project Management of the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill

The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill provides for criminal convictions to be concealed in certain prescribed circumstances. The Bill has required substantial policy development, and, if passed, it will have major implications for information technology systems in the sector.

Drawing on the lessons learned when working together to develop and implement the Sentencing and Parole legislation, officials proposed to the Chief Executives Forum a governance and reporting structure for implementing the Bill. The proposal was accepted and a structure put in place. The structure is illustrated in Figure 3 on the next page.

Figure 3
Governance and Reporting Structure for the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Bill

Figure 3.

A key element of the structure is a group of project and policy managers from the operational agencies that meets fortnightly to oversee development of the policy. The group logs risks and issues, with the log updated and circulated before each meeting. The agencies use the log to monitor progress. The regular meetings provide an opportunity to address concerns and obstacles as they emerge.

The project oversight group reports to a steering committee made up of second-tier management that maintains a cross-sector overview of the project. The committee reports to the Chief Executives Forum.

Research and Evaluation

Each of the core criminal justice agencies has a research and evaluation function, and its own research programme. In 1999, the Ministry established a Justice Sector Research Review Group, comprising research leaders from six agencies8, to:

  • provide ethical review of research and evaluation proposals;
  • exchange information on research and evaluation work programmes; and
  • identify and co-ordinate responses to research and evaluation needs which have relevance to the sector as a whole.

The group is chaired by the Ministry, and meets each month.

The agencies have taken initiatives to promote research proposals for the sector through:

  • collaboration on topics of mutual interest (such as victimisation and forecasting);
  • co-funding of larger contract-managed projects;
  • inter-agency research advisory groups;
  • joint preparation of research bids to the cross-departmental research pool administered by the Ministry of Research Science and Technology; and
  • joint projects.

The Ministry has played an active role in promoting collaboration and seeking funding for cross-agency research.

While agencies have taken steps to co-ordinate their research work, we have identified a need for a more formally designed sector research programme, and a formal, agreed framework for undertaking and evaluating sector-wide research.

One possible model for consideration by the criminal justice sector is that which has been adopted by the social policy agencies. The Social Policy Evaluation and Research Committee was established with a mandate to oversee the Government’s investment in social policy research and evaluation. This group co-ordinates social policy agencies’ research effort – promoting collaborative research and adoption of best practice research approaches and tools.

The criminal justice agencies are reviewing the Ministry’s research and evaluation unit to identify opportunities for making best use of the sector’s research resources.

5: Those votes are Attorney General (Crown Law Office), Corrections, Courts, Justice, Police, Serious Fraud, Treaty Negotiations, and Child, Youth and Family (youth justice).

6: These are among a number of protocols or memoranda of understanding between various sector agencies relating to matters such as data sharing, policy development, shared funding and research.

7: The Police do not have a policy work programme because their work is normally reactive and demand-driven.

8: The Ministry, Department of Corrections, Department for Courts, Police, Ministry of Social Development, and Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

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