Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why it's hard for governments to execute policy

This government is taking some bold steps to do the right things for NZ. But I say now that until the fundamental machinery that executes its policies changes dramatically, it's just not going to have a chance of succeeding.

Great initiative, invest $1.5 B in improving New Zealand's broadband. However the very first step in execution, identifying an appropriate person to run the first stage, is going to an RFP which is open for a week.

Let me repeat that.

The critical success factor for getting you and me a world class broadband service is going to apply and be identified in a week by submitting an RFP.

There are two scenarios here

A. The MED already knows who they want (because Joyce has told them) - which means it is just a waste of time

B. This is the *standard* way of recruiting a project manager for government - the same process is used to determine supply of paper for the government as it is for project managing a mission critical investment.

There will be a number of very interested parties given all the politics over the last few years around Broadband. They are the wrong people for this role.

It's going to take a lot more than an opinion about broadband to deliver what is needed. It needs someone who has been through the fire of billion dollar projects, with a vast range of stakeholders, and delivered. On top of that, they have to be up for doing it all again.

The right person for this role will be a kick-ass programme manager who's only aim in life is to execute programmes brilliantly. That person is not going to be submitting an RFP. You will have to crowbar them out of an existing position. You need to look for these people - they don't come to you.

Why ?

Because someone will have worked out they are a kick-ass individual and will be doing everything they can to keep them doing great work for them. The right person will take time to find and convince that this is not a lemon of a project. The right person will get NZers the maximum value for $1.5 B. The wrong person will blow millions just getting started.

I sure hope that it's Option A...


Mike Riversdale said...

Cracking post!

IF the only optons are A or B then I, like you, hope it's A.

All options are, probably, non-existent - shame eh!

Hamish said...

Short time frames are not the exclusive province of governments, I suspect any organisation would be challenged to find talent appropriate to the goal you describe in a week.

However, my reading of the RFP suggests that the task for the Programme Manager Broadband Investment Programme is to lead a team that will perform: "analysis of any submissions received on the proposal; finalisation of the policy; and subsequent implementation of the policy through to the establishment of a Crown Investment Agency."

The responsibility for "getting you and me a world class broadband service" (hopefully a world-class passive fibre infrastructure upon which others will build services) will then fall on the Crown Fibre Investment Company (CFIC) and whoever leads that.

Not that deferring the identification of the required talent adds much lead time. According to the cabinet paper appointing the CFIC is due to take place mid June, 2009.