Joyce's MBIE needs more 'joined-up thinking' - business leader

Phil O'Reilly

Applications are about to close for almost a dozen new senior positions at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

But Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly says he is not seeing a lot of real examples of ‘joined-up thinking’ between the agencies – which was one of the ministry’s primary remits.

“There are gaps in the policy at the moment, but there is definitely good-will there from the staff. It is very early days and perhaps in 3 to 6 months, we should see more examples of the agencies working more closely together," Mr O'Reilly told NBR ONLINE.

The ministry, which came into existence on July 1, merged the existing ministries of economic development and science and innovation and the departments of labour and building and housing.

At the time, economic development minister Steven Joyce said the ministry would provide ‘a more efficient and effective single ministry focused on lifting overall productivity and supporting the growth of competitive businesses.’

He was confident the ministry would help lift momentum for business owners, making it easier to access innovative ideas, markets, capital, skilled workers and resources needed to grow their companies.

A more detailed organisational design and implementation plan is being developed for release late next month, but in the meantime 11 new senior positions have been advertised by MBIE.

Acting chief executive David Smol says he is looking for deputy chief executives to head a number of groups, including strategy and governance; corporate services, labour and commercial environment; science, skills and innovation; infrastructure and resource markets, regulatory practice and market services.

The organisation is also recruiting for a general manager of people and capability; chief financial officer, chief information officer and chief legal advisor.

Interest in the jobs has been described as ‘strong’ from candidates within the organisation, around New Zealand and globally.

Mr Smol and his senior team have been credited with the ministry’s success so far by Mr O’Reilly.

He believes in the month and half the ministry has been in operation, it has bedded down well, considering the change which has come about and continues to evolve.

Mr O’Reilly says he is in almost daily contact with officials at the ministry over anything from business to immigration.

“They’re losing much less momentum than I thought they would be. David Smol and his leadership team have pulled it all together well – they had strategy meetings at the start to work out their direction and it is working.”

He told NBR ONLINE previously, the different agencies had different ways of dealing with problems and often he had to explain things to the agencies in totally different ways.

Mr Smol hopes businesses and other stake holders will soon start to see the benefits from MBIE.

“The benefits will be seen over time as we progressively join up service delivery wherever there’s potential to do so, and as we integrate across areas of policy. Also I think over time, people will see an improvement as we use our critical mass to ensure excellence in policy design and excellence in service delivery.”

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MOBIE is doomed to fail as a govt department in generating any economic activity and / or an environment suitable for business, encouraging employment and economic wealth. The only way it has a chance will be if half the management positions are appointed to people with substantial private sector backgrounds, and all the management jobs have their salaries and performance bonuses tied to GDP growth.

History has shown that this won't happen though, as a whole group of "in the club" civil servants, with no idea of how business works, who think 8.30 until 5pm is full time, who catch commuter units to work and home each day and do think completing the crossword is a legitimate work practice during work hours, start drinks at 4.00pm on a Friday, and are compulsive meeting attenders (for up to half of each day), will get the jobs. I mean why rock the boat of luxury and jobs for the boys.

Not one of them will be willing to have their jobs or salaries at risk and tied to the underlying measure of performance - ie Gross Domestic Product, despite believing that they can influence business and the economy.

Stephen Joyce - have the balls to direct the civil servants in charge of appointments appropriately.

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