Sustainable development: Implementing the Programme of Action.

The Government intended the Sustainable Development for New Zealand: Programme of Action (the Programme of Action) to be a learning exercise in a time of considerable change. I kept this in mind when auditing the leadership and co-ordination, planning, implementation, and evaluation and reporting of the Programme of Action as a whole, and of two of its four workstreams. While most of my expectations were met, my expectations for some aspects of planning and reporting to the public were not fully met.

The Programme of Action sought real change in the way central government works, including how it works with local government. My audit identified some implications for central and local government in areas such as governance, management, and accountability. My intention is to provide timely information to those who are working in cross-agency collaboration.

I am aware that a lot was achieved in the separate areas of focus for the Programme of Action during its three-year life. Many of the people involved in the Programme of Action said the experience led to improvements in the way their organisations work with others to achieve the Government’s goals.

As my audit was being completed, the Prime Minister announced that sustainability was a top priority for the Government, and that the Government intended to take a leadership role to contribute to this goal. Sector reference groups have been set up to assist with advice and support for inter-agency implementation teams.

I am aware that initiatives are in progress to support further changes in the way central government works, including joint planning processes between the Treasury, the State Services Commission, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and some co-location of central agency advisors. Processes are being put in place to support proactive rather than reactive engagement of the central agencies. In addition, initiatives such as regular engagement between Ministers and central agency chief executives, and regular working with Ministerial groups, are helping to create the “spaces” for the healthy debate and prioritisation that is critical to effective whole-of-government working.

I welcome these latest initiatives by central government agencies and departments to foster public capability and effectiveness for cross-agency work.

This is a demanding area of leadership and co-ordination.

I thank all those people who gave help and information for my audit. My audit team appreciated the thoughtful comments and the time they were given.


K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

13 June 2007

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