Saturday 8 June 2019

The long term rot

Over at The Spinoff, I go through the problems at Treasury I've been chronicling here for some time. Most of this will be familiar to loyal readers, but I do put a couple of new bits in.

The Spinoff truncated a couple of bits for length ... I did go on for a while. The shorter form version is here; we have the full one over at our site.  
If the Canterbury earthquakes taught us anything, it’s that the immediate response to a disaster is a very different thing from the rebuilding that has to follow.

Disaster response is about triage, the good-enough, and avoiding substantial further harm. The rebuild is different. It takes a fair bit of thought about what the place should look like, and a long-term strategy to get there. In the best case, the long-term vision has always been in place and all that needs to be done is working out how to get there from the current mess. But it can be a lot harder if there were a lot of longer-standing issues prior to the disaster that also need to be resolved.

The State Services Commission’s investigation of Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf’s conduct and statements during last week’s unauthorised access to budget documents is disaster response. But this disaster was not the Christchurch earthquake, and the IT department is the least of Treasury’s issues. Last week’s mess is the culmination of years of mismanagement at Treasury that saw the substantial erosion of Treasury’s competence. Treasury’s core role as the government’s lead economic advisor has been put at risk.

Treasury needs a recovery, and a rebuild. The job facing any incoming Chief Executive will be exceptionally challenging.
I expect Minister Robertson will be watching the appointment closely; it's just too expensive for a Finance Minister to have an unreliable Treasury. 

Read the whole thing at the link above. It's good to see that the piece is making the rounds as it should. 

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