Chief Executive's Overview
The past year has continued the theme of change that we have seen in recent years. On 1 February 2015 the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) became the Government's first departmental agency, housed within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). This move was the first step in the process of transitioning CERA to its long-term arrangements once the legislation that established it expires in 2016. At the time of writing this, there are still a number of decisions that need to be made about the transfer of CERA‘s functions to DPMC, but it is clear that a number of CERA's functions will fit well with DPMC and its existing functions around civil defence and emergency management and recovery from disasters, all aimed at lifting the resilience of New Zealand's communities.
The Department also provided advice and support services during the lead-up to the 2014 General Election, and assisted the post-election Government to establish its post-election work programme.
The past year has seen DPMC fully integrate the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management as a business unit within the Department. There are already clear synergies between the work it does and the work around national security done by other parts of the organisation.
The Department has led a project to lift the quality of policy advice across the State sector, and this has generated some momentum in recent months.
It has continued to be a busy year for the security and intelligence group, with the structures established at the start of 2014 bedding down. DPMC has established a national security policy unit which considers policy relating to both traditional national security threats as well as civil defence and emergency management. A considerable amount of work has been put in to improve the products we produce to support the decision-making of officials and Ministers, and to be more responsive to the end users of intelligence assessments.
DPMC has continued to fill a coordinating role to help the State sector work more effectively together, in order to achieve progress toward the Government's Better Public Services results.
Several policy areas have been a particular focus for our advice over the past year, including the Canterbury recovery, children living in hardship, housing, and national security priorities.
Changes made to New Zealand's national security system over the past two years, including a reorganisation of the way the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC) system is organised, have bedded in. The system is now better coordinated, more forward-leaning, and effective.
DPMC has continued to support the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine during a busy period of international and domestic commemorations and visits. The visit by HRH Prince Harry, which was supported by both the Cabinet Office and Government House, was one such event, as well as supporting the Governor-General to host almost 3,000 guests at the annual Bledisloe Garden Reception on Waitangi Day. His Excellency played a leading role in the opening of the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the centennial commemorations on ANZAC Day in both Wellington and Canberra. These commemorations were, literally, once in a lifetime events.
The CabNet project, which transforms the current paper-based system by establishing an electronic system to support Cabinet processes, has largely been completed and implementation is well underway. Cabinet material can now be accessed in a more efficient, timely and secure way.
The Department has also supported the process to consider the changing of New Zealand's flag and in particular has hosted the Secretariat for the Flag Consideration Panel.
It has been a positive year for the Department, albeit one of considerable change. I would like to thank the staff at both DPMC and CERA for the tremendous work they have done in the service of New Zealand.