Stinging review for Parliamentary Service

Parliament's back office has received a stinging performance review.

Parliamentary Service provides administrative support to MPs and deals with staff, salaries and expenses. It also manages historic buildings around the Wellington precinct.

A performance improvement framework (PIF) report was published this morning. It reveals that the way the department does its work and the services it provides need work.

In almost all of the areas assessed by independent reviewers the service was rated as "needing development".

This includes how the management team performs and the support it gives to MPs.

In "people development" categories, the department is consistently judged "weak."

The only areas it rates well in are dealing with ministers and risk management.

The service was last year heavily criticised over the release of information to the Henry Inquiry, which was investigating the leak of a sensitive intelligence report.

The review says there is a "real chance" this could make the service more "risk averse".

The report also notes: "The service is aware of the need to develop a customer-centric approach, and an enabling rather than preventing philosophy."

Also published today was a review of the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The clerk, Mary Harris, runs the House and oversees Standing Orders, which are Parliament's rules.

The reports notes that staff take pride in the smooth running of the House, but their "modesty and subtlety" risks driving internal competition and creativity underground.

Reviewers called the office a "hidden gem", but suggested a "less retiring style" might be needed.

Parliamentary Service general manager David Stevenson responded to the review in a three-page foreword. 

The service continued to adapt and change and was working on "several initiatives to improve our organisational performance", he said.

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