NSW Treasury Circulars (TCs) are reserved for strategically significant matters and are issued to agencies as edicts to be followed without qualification. Heads of agencies are held accountable for their agency’s adherence to TCs.
It is therefore significant that the preparation of Results and Services Plans (RSPs) which have been required of most NSW Government agencies for some time, have been made the subject of a further Treasury Circular.
The logical interpretation of the issuing of this TC is that Premier Nathan Rees is seeking to reinforce and enhance central agency (Treasury) control over agency planning and funding by reiterating the importance of RSPs as strategic medium-term service delivery and funding tools. It is clear from the circular that agencies will find it almost impossible to receive funding for initiatives that are not linked to their RSP.
Rees was reported in The Australian in a statement to the NSW Budget Estimates Committee ‘there was an overemphasis on process in the administration of NSW, and not enough attention to outcomes’. By reinforcing the central role of RSPs, the Government is in effect requiring agencies to stay focused on outcomes.
Attendant with this thinking is the announcement the Government will eliminate 117 senior executive positions over four years. This will create rapid change within the public sector by significantly changing organisational dynamics due to changes in key positions.
In the first clear example of such change, the resignation of Robyn Kruk, Head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet paves the way for Rees to determine who should provide his key bureaucratic support under the reforms he clearly intends. It is widely rumoured John Lee, who was brought in to head up the NSW Department of Commerce, is favoured for this role.
The Treasury Circular (NSW TC 08/11, 2 October 2008) states “ under the NSW Government’s Performance Management and Budgeting System, all agencies within the General Government sector which submit monthly financial reports to Treasury are monitored through either a Results and Services Plan (RSP) or Statement of Business Intent/Corporate Intent’ It requires all Budget Dependent and selected non-Budget Dependent General Government agencies to prepare a Results and Services Plan.
The key importance of an RSP is that budget funding is allocated to agencies based on the services they will provide to meet their RSPs which are in turn linked to broader Government objectives.
All agencies are required to submit RSPs once every four years, at the commencement of each new term of Government. Agencies are required to update their RSPs following annual budget allocations. As such, they provide valuable information about the strategic directions agencies must pursue, and the potential solutions they may be after.
RSPs are often available on individual agency websites, or are summarised in agency Annual Reports.
Intermedium assists its clients interpret agency RSPs. We will provide a briefing on the ICT implications of the NSW mini-budget when it is brought down in November.