Leadership is coming from people throughout New Zealand, individuals, the community sector, Iwi and hapu, local government and the private sector and more. We celebrate them all. But we especially want to shine the light on the public service today as we move towards Level 2.
Here we share just a few examples of achievements so far:
- As you will be aware, there has been a dramatic change to the process of contract tracing including the establishment of the Ministry-led National Close Contact Service. You will probably know that the NCCS was stood up in a matter of weeks but you may not know that there are 200-plus staff recruited to prioritise tracking and tracing of contacts to supplement the work of public health units across the country. IPANZ understands that a number of public service departments, crown entities and others have offered their staff to assist, a truly collaborative effort.
- In the past there has sometimes been criticism of expenditure communications staff in public service departments. Maybe we have a better understanding of the need for communications people to share information for people in New Zealand; listening to the briefings, seeing the information flowing from almost every department, imagining the amount of background work being done by communications teams all across the public service. In the Ministry of Health for example by mid to late April, there were more than 40 media stand-ups, at least 400-plus emails a day to the media team (and more than 500 a day to the National Health Coordination Centre’s) inbox and hundreds of collaborative cross-agency meetings to ensure the information being shared is coordinated.
- The rapid implementation of the wage subsidies was an early example of the agility and speed of public service departments. What a challenge to very rapidly set up a mechanism to receive and process billions of dollars in wage subsidy and leave subsidy payments at a massive scale! The public service had 72 hours between when Cabinet agreed on the wage subsidy and its final parameters, to the “go live” of the application process. The scheme is currently supporting over 1.6 million kiwis to stay connected to the labour market.
- We must celebrate community groups as well as public servants. Community-based organisations, their leadership and commitment is a vital part of the jigsaw. The Ministry of Social Development approved 300 grants totalling more than $1.9 million approved for community groups and individuals across New Zealand to provide local solutions. And the Ministry does it utmost to support people who need it. During this lockdown period we are continuing to help very large numbers of New Zealanders. In one recent week we responded to more than 90,000 contact centre calls, and our case managers carried out almost 80,000 phone-based appointments and calls.
IPANZ Is aware that there will inevitably be critique of aspects of the work that has been done; that with the enormous speed of response some unintended consequences may appear; that there will be adjustments and lessons to learn. But we do not want to lose this moment to whole-heartedly applaud all the work done behind-the-scenes in the public service.