Part 4: Strategic context

Statements of intent: Examples of reporting practice.

The relevance of specific performance objectives and priorities should become apparent when they are presented within the context of the entity’s operating environment, purpose, and strategic aims. The strategic context helps explain, at a high level, the reason for the entity’s existence, what it exists to achieve, and the powers and functions it may exercise to help achieve its goals.

A useful discussion about context will include information on the purpose of the entity, its role, and the nature and scope of its functions and operations. Such characteristics remain relatively fixed over time, because they express, at a fairly high level, the fundamental information on the entity’s strategic positioning within the general, long-term aims of the Government.

Information that reflects the dynamic context of the entity needs to complement these discussions. This might include a discussion about changes to the entity’s operating environment, and how the entity is managing its current priorities, challenges, risks, and planned responses within that changing environment.

A common starting point for providing a strategic context for reported outcomes is the entity’s governing legislation. In its SOI, the Human Rights Commission succinctly outlines its purpose, functions, and roles in relation to the Human Rights Act 1993 (Example 1), before discussing its operating environment (Example 2).

Another way to provide strategic context is to show how public entity outcomes link to Government themes. Many entities describe these links, although the extent to which the links are self-evident vary from entity to entity. The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) provides a clear and simple illustration of the links between Government economic transformation themes and the MED’s high-level outcomes (Example 3).

Government agencies share many societal outcomes. Although their common aims are sometimes clearly expressed, they are usually implied. Individual agencies do not often make appropriate reference to the outcomes of other agencies. We consider it would be useful for agencies to make such reference, as it is a good way for the user to see how a particular agency’s work complements the work done by other parts of government. The MED shows a summary of the most important agencies it works with and the agency outcomes that relate closely to the MED’s work. However, the diagram does imply that all outcomes relate to all agencies. To improve it, the MED could identify which outcomes relate to which specific agency.

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