This page provides information about the tools we use to enhance our policy advice.
Our Four Year Plan outlines our long-term goals, strategic priorities and four year excellence horizon, and our mission and how we achieve it. These tools support how we approach our work. Within that plan, the Strategy on a Page summarises our purpose and next steps.
A key element of Strategy on a Page is Policy Plus, which means that we:
- actively shape the agenda
- advise with impact
- focus on supporting decisions
- use different approaches and perspectives to problem solve, and
- address the whole environmental management system.
Natural Resources Framework
We are part of the Natural Resources Sector which is a collection of government agencies focused on providing more integrated and consistent high-quality policy advice on natural resources. Together we developed the Natural Resources Framework to craft robust and resilient policy that promotes the effective stewardship and kaitiakitanga of New Zealand’s natural resources.
COBRA provides Ministry staff with concepts, frameworks and tools to use in developing quality policy advice. It helps identify opportunities, risks and alternative options. COBRA is used across the Ministry and provides a common approach and language to policy development.
While the tools contained in COBRA generally remain valid, the document does not at this stage reflect the Strategy on a Page approach. Work on implementing Policy Plus will address this through supplementary material or by directly replacing or updating COBRA.
This image illustrates the COBRA policy process the Ministry uses to develop quality policy advice.
Professionalising policy guide
This guide helps our staff develop their skills and career in policy analysis. It helps them plan their development and acquire new skills and experience. It also helps them identify development opportunities.
We have a comprehensive approach to quality of advice, overseen by a Community of Practice of staff across the organisation, which covers commissioning, peer review, assessment and feedback.
Specific training is provided on commissioning, peer review, analysis fundamentals and story-telling.
Material available to staff includes:
- CARDD-Key handout on commissioning and being commissioned
- guidance on commissioning and providing peer review.
We review the quality of our policy advice on average 8-10 times a year. A random sample of 10 policy papers each time is selected and assessed by a panel against objective criteria. The panel includes an external chair, a principal analyst, and a rotation of directors and managers. All managers and authors of assessed papers receive feedback on areas for improvement.
This process ensures we track improvement to the quality of our policy advice. It also ensures our staff receive objective feedback on their policy work.
Quality assessment criteria
|Context, consultation and collaboration||Advice is put in context, links to the desired future state and exposes opportunities, risks and implications for affected groups addressed|| |
Considers the current state (eg, infrastructure, social norms and attitudes, relevant issues of the day, current strategies, system dynamics, points of leverage), and how current policy settings affect it, and prior advice and decisions (including agency or sector strategies)
|Options||Advice balances what is desirable, can be delivered and is cost effective|| |
Scopes a range of options (including doing nothing) showing expected results and links to desired outcomes (eg, using intervention logic and/or benefits realisation)
|Analysis||Advice is informed by evidence and insights and analytically sound|| |
Is informed by credible evidence (research, data, evaluation) and insights from different points of view (eg, citizen-customer, operational, institutional or agency perspectives), admits assumptions, gaps and weaknesses in evidence and the knowledge base
Accurately identifies the problem or opportunity and its size, scope and immediacy
Uses analytical frameworks/strategies to elevate analysis and make sense of information (eg, market failure, comparative institutional analysis, competition impact, cost benefit analysis, living standards framework)
|Advice and actions||Advice engages the decision maker and tells the full story|| |
Makes action oriented recommendations and identifies next steps
Is in a format that fits the decision maker’s style preferences and intended use(s)
|Customer focus|| |
Starts with a clear purpose and tells a coherent story
Is well staged and well timed – hits the decision maker at the right time