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Immigration Scandal:Update 24 – Initial Comments on EY Report

07/03/2009

The Ernst & Young report into the Pacific Division makes for some fascinating reading. The full report, all 129 pages, can be downloaded here.

Given the way reports such as these are written, this report is scathing. The Executive Summary is peppered with phrases such as ‘remedial action required immediately‘.

In each of nine performance dimensions measured remedial action is required. In some cases there is the modifier ‘serious concerns‘ in others the modifier is ‘urgent development area’.

The Ministerial press release commented:-

“This latest review has found severe deficiencies across Immigration New Zealand’s Pacific Division. It paints a damning picture of a poorly performing service that was poorly led and lacked a clear strategic mandate. The Division has become isolated from the rest of Immigration New Zealand over time, effectively acting in an autonomous manner which is out of keeping with accepted practice.”

To Adam it appears that much of this stems from the leadership. This report studiously avoids naming names, but it is hard to avoid thinking that some blame must rest with overall Immigration Service management.

Further the question arises if the Pacific Division is so poorly run, what confidence can we have that the overall Immigration Service is managed more effectively. This concern is not assuaged when one reads in the Executive Summary:-

While these recommendations are focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Pacific Division, their relevance to Service Delivery should be considered. Throughout the review, staff and managers consistently expressed concern about successive years of underinvestment in the wider immigration service (in people
capability and training, systems, tools, facilities). The significance and impact of any underinvestment needs to be assessed. We understand some of these issues are being looked at as part of the Office of the Auditor General’s review of the New Zealand Immigration Service. If it has resulted in similar issues to those found in Pacific Division then an integrated approach to dealing with these issues needs to be undertaken.

What is clear from the report is that a very great deal of work needs to be accomplished. This needs to be done and done well, if past errors are not to be repeated.

Of concern in the extract quoted above is the comments on under investment in people, systems etc. If this is the case, then just what has all the money spent on the public service in the last 9 years been spent on.

Adam looks forward with some trepidation to the Auditor-General’s forthcoming report. Also with interest given that Mr Brady indicated he intended to question various Ministers on their involvement.

It is easy to criticize, but you can have a degree of empathy with staff when it is clear that leadership was poor, and they were not equipped with the tools to do the job.

Adam will be dealing in later posts in coming days on the various areas within the report, but he wanted to post on his first blush overview.

It is to be hoped that this report deals only with an isolated area within the public sector and government agencies. Of itself this report is an indictment, but if it is indicative of broader problems within the public sector then we should all be concerned, very concerned.

In that regard Adam would refer readers to his post recently on problems at Defence and a very concerning Auditor General report.

Then we have what appear to be very significant issues at ACC.

Adam’s extensive set of past posts on this matter can be accessed via this page.

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