NZ govt gets outsourcing tick

New Zealand's is one of the more forward-looking and likely-to-succeed governments when it comes to outsourcing, according to a report by consultancy Accenture.

New Zealand’s is one of the more forward-looking and likely-to-succeed governments when it comes to outsourcing, according to a report by consultancy Accenture.

The country and government are of a small size and more “nimble” in its ability to make major changes to its structure and operations quickly, says Accenture Australia spokeswoman Karyn Mottershead.

It is also “output focused” and moving rapidly to an even more productive focus on “outcomes”, or what actually happens for the citizen, she says. This provides the first essential for aspiring outsourcers, a “base metric” for what is being done in-house and how much it costs.

“The ‘Review of the Centre’ report [see Departments likely to co-orperate more under e-gov't] urged further moves in that direction, making outsourcing easier,” Mottershead says. “For a long time [the New Zealand government] has had accrual accounting; some governments haven’t even reached that stage yet.”

Only with such a firm measurable base can a government or business quantify the advantages of outsourcing, she says. An outsourcer can quote a price for managing a certain volume of social welfare cases, but evaluation of the advantage is impossible if the government's welfare agency does not really know what it costs to do in-house.

IT outsourcing is a very important element of general business outsourcing, but such infrastructure moves are only a start, she says. Outsourcing becomes more productive when it involves outsourcing of business processes and some reorganisation of those processes.

One of the most successful achievements in New Zealand government outsourcing, Mottershead says, was the Child Youth and Family department’s outsourcing of case management processes. This was done with the assistance of Accenture, which was formerly part of Arthur Andersen.

CYFS needed a toolset to assist social workers in delivery of statutory social work processes and better manage their case loads. At the same time, the approach had to capture all the information required for legislative reporting and internal analysis at the national office. CYF partnered with Accenture to deliver a case management system called CYRAS, the Child, Youth, Residence and Adoptions System. In July 2001, the CYFS outsourced ongoing application management and support CYRAS to Accenture in collaboration with members of CYFS’ own staff.

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