Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So you’re going to be a Minister? Part one

Now some of you have been Ministers before, some of you will find this your first time. There are a bunch of things you need to know. If you’re friends with a soon to be ex. Labour Minister you may learn a little of this, but be wary. The last time the Nats entered government much of the public sector had already been “socialised” into Rogernomics (with some distinct exceptions). Things have changed somewhat, there are legions of bright eyed bushy tailed mediocrities in the public service who have spent up to nine years serving a pro-active interventionist government, but there are some sources of common sense. So, here’s some advice:

1. Get a Senior Private Secretary who is bright, hard working, sceptical, can handle stress and get on with as many people as possible. This will be an ally closer to you than most of your Parliamentary colleagues. Make sure you look at CVs closely and interview very carefully, this is sometime who you need a watertight relationship with.

2. Read the briefing to the incoming Minister with some scepticism, and get someone else to review it for you who may have past experience in your portfolio. Remember that departments will be reporting on initiatives started by the past government, and being free and frank with you will be new for some of them. The key is to ask what isn’t being reported on.

3. Read the CVs of your departmental Chief Executives thoroughly and ask around about the said individuals. You need to know who you can rely on, and who you can’t. They will all be professional, but remember you are the Minister, you are in charge.

4. Meet your departmental Chief Executives only after you have done points 2 and 3 above. Make the first meeting a relatively relaxed affair, make it very clear what your overall strategic intentions are. DON’T be bogged down in detail (e.g. if you have transport, don’t ask about a particular road) because it will show how easily you can be distracted. Say you have a long list of questions and issues you want discussed, and in particular the purpose and value of the department, and how you could possibly justify its budget or existence. Even if you DO think it is justified, you have been elected, in part, on a platform of more frugal government. Don’t assume that the department you have command of is in fact necessary at all.

5. Read the Statement of Intent and the Purchase Agreement between the previous Minister and your department. These specify exactly what the department is meant to deliver. One of your first priorities is to amend both of these, which cannot be done until you’ve done the line by line review of what is in them and what you want the department to do. Note that if you want it to do more you’ll need the Finance Minister’s approval.

6. You might find there are Crown Entities under your portfolio or even SOEs. They will see themselves as a law unto themselves, which SOEs sort of are, but Crown Entities and Companies are not. Some of them will try to provide competing advice to your core department, some of them will think they aren’t really accountable to you at all. Understand thoroughly what they do and don’t do, what you can do, and remember if you have a Statement of Intent and Purchase Agreements with them, you are in charge.

MORE TO COME

6 comments:

PC said...

Haha, and "for this week, New Zealand is a small country of which I know nothing."

I knew you couldn't help but comment. :-)

And still "MORE TO COME"!

Excellent.

libertyscott said...

I wrote it weeks ago :) but frankly I am still nearly not giving a damn. NYC is like another rotation of the earth away from NZ compared to London.

Anonymous said...

Crap advice.

1. meeting with your chief executive informally and demand their resignation and that of their whole team immediately

NZ voted for change. not more of the same.
Fire the labour-infected fuckers wholesale!

2. get the remaning departments to write a report in 1 week "why we should not be closed down or privitised". They will say they can't do it that soon, not without a CE or executive team. Tell them to fuck off, you're the minister.

3. Close down what can be closed down. Contract a private law firm to draft necessary legislation to close down the departhment. Enact it under urgency.

Annie Fox! said...

I tag you.

The rules are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules
3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Elijah Lineberry said...

Me, too! ...

The rules are:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules
3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

hanso said...

So does he need to post fourteen facts, or what?