Someone – perhaps a current public servant or someone who depends on access/opportunities – sent me a carefully anonymous email with a collection of material (all public) that the compiler thought relevant to judging the performance of Gabriel Makhlouf as Secretary to the Treasury. I’m passing it on as I received it (deleting only the – meaningless to me – email address I received it from). I’m not sure if the person was just trying to persuade me (I suspect not) or wanted to get the material out more broadly and wanted to use me as a conduit.
I’m not sure I read all the material in quite the same way the sender does: so-called “gender pay gap” data are just meaningless, and I’m not going to criticise someone for not “doing better” against a meaningless benchmark – even if the person concerned was a champion of the “diversity and inclusion” movement, which is full of vapid rhetoric. Similarly, I’m not persuaded that the proportion of women in senior management is a meaningful statistic, even if Makhlouf himself did once come out and suggest he’d adopted internal quasi-quotas. If people on the left want to attack him on those grounds I’ll leave that to them.
I also couldn’t play the Bloomberg TV pre-election clip, so I’m not sure what to make of that (although I never thought of Makhlouf as partisan per se)
. I had my own post
earlier this year in which Makhlouf participated in some craven – and highly inappropriate in a serving senior public servant – adulation of the Prime Minister.
But since I do care, a lot, about the quality of analysis and policy advice, I thought the table in the very last section (below) was pretty telling and – on the face of it – almost scandalous. And the best evidence of poor judgement under pressure was, surely, what we all saw in the “Budget leak” affair a couple of weeks ago, compounded by his retreat behind closed doors and public silence – no apology, no contrition, no explanation – since.
Beyond that, make of it what you will. Here is what I was sent.
Publicly available evidence regarding the actual performance of Makhlouf as Secretary
In what state does Makhlouf leave the capability, culture, performance and reputation of the Treasury – below his actual LEGACY from observable statistics
EVIDENCE REGARDING OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE
Some recent examples of operational failure
- Technology: Website security failure May 2019
- Comms: Heartwork the Wellbeing Game
- Comms: 2019 Budget Cover photo
- Technology: Coding error in Treasury child poverty calculations 2018
Can NZ be confident there won’t be further significant operational failures at the Treasury
EVIDENCE REGARDING POLITICAL NEUTRALITY AND JUDGEMENT:
EVIDENCE OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ACTUAL PERFORMANCE versus RHETORIC
TREASURY has the LOWEST % of women in senior leadership in the entire public service
TREASURY has the 4th largest gender pay gap in the entire public service
2. Inability to recruit locally for entry level roles reflecting weak reputation and culture – Treasury’s HR team travel to London to recruit analysts / senior analysts
EVIDENCE REGARDING QUALITY OF POLICY ADVICE
From Treasury’s 2018 annual report
It would be interesting to OIA what the score would have been if “methodical robustness of at least 80%” was not applied as was the case in previous years
Consistent decline is evidenced by observing this measure over the last 4-5 years – all in Annual Reports