Technical Assistance

Cook Islands Technical Assistance Fund (CITAF)

Since the commencement of CITAF in 2011, the Fund Coordinating Committee approved 45 projects to a total value of $2.97m. Of the 45 projects approved, 41 (91 per cent) were successfully completed. Four projects had funds recalled – three due to being inactive for more than six months and one was postponed for implementation outside the GFA period. Seventeen (46 per cent) of the 37 public sector agencies were beneficiaries of CITAF.

A Mid-Term Review of CITAF undertaken in 2014 concluded that CITAF demonstrated its relevance by enabling public sector agencies to achieve government priorities through access to and effective use of technical assistance. The review concluded that CITAF was likely to deliver sustainable results beyond 30 June 2015 (end of the grant funding agreement period).

Overall targets in the Results Measurement Table (RMT) were met. Long term targets have seen a marked improvement with the reduction of ‘qualified’ audit opinions from five to three agencies. Output performance by public service departments improved with an 80 per cent reduction in the number of outputs which were seriously off track. There were also marked improvements in the public expenditure financial accountability (PEFA) assessment ratings report.

Although the 2013 Crown accounts were outstanding at the time the final CITAF report was prepared (30 June 2015), the Audit Office confirmed that they had made considerable progress with their audit catch up programme. Twenty-seven (56 per cent) of the 2013 outstanding audits had been completed and a further 21 were in progress. The auditing of the 2014 accounts was also underway with eight reports completed, nine in progress and 31 still outstanding. An updated timeframe for audit sign off of the Crown accounts was yet to be confirmed at the time of this report.

Medium and short term targets were met with central agencies (MFEM, OPSC, OPM and Crown Law) accessing 46 per cent of CITAF funds to strengthen policy, public financial management, and public administration performance. The majority of the CITAF recipients confirmed that they had increased capacity within their organisations as a result of technical advice and assistance provided but that ongoing technical/specialist support will be required post June 2015. All technical assistance and projects were aligned to agency business plans and NSDP priority areas.

CITAF’s key achievements comprised:

1. Improved Public Financial Management ($247k, 8 per cent):
• Completed the financial statements ‘catch up’ project
• Completed an audit of financial statements ‘catch up’ project
• SOE accounts conversion to International Financial Reporting Standards
• Completed statutory accounts for the National Human Resource Development Department (NHRD)

2. Strengthened Public Administration and Service Delivery ($2,549k, 86 per cent):
• Drafted new legislation for the financial sector eg Captive Insurance Act
• Drafted the Employment Relations Bill
• Drafted the Seabed Minerals Amendment Bill and regulations
• Public Service Strategy consultation
• Completed a capability analysis assessment
• Engaged a public sector strengthening advisor
• Completed the Cook Islands Labour Market Remuneration Survey
• Reviewed the Remuneration Framework (pay scales) and policy
• Reviewed clinical nursing standards
• Completed health clinical audit processes
• Reviewed the National Curriculum Framework
• Completed a five year strategy for tertiary continuing and community education
• Reviewed the Air New Zealand Sydney and Los Angeles underwrite
• Strengthened consumer commission services
• Scoped an aged care facility
• Developed the Office of the Ombudsman quality management system
• Completed a review of solid waste management financing
• Completed a land court transcript ‘catch up’ project
• Engaged technical support for HRMIS
• ICT consultation
• ICT Integration in education learning and pedagogical approaches
• Completed an audit of the meteorological services
• Completed a dangerous goods inspection and follow up audit
• Support work towards the accreditation of a marine laboratory
• Salary supplementation (top ups) for key positions across government: Financial Secretary, Senior Tax Auditors, Surgeon, Solicitor General and Economic Advisor
• NCD Specialist
• Training for shot firers
• Training for vanilla growers
• Training for SP10 job evaluators

3. CITAF Management costs and a Mid-Term Review ($173k, 6 per cent) enabled effective and efficient management of the programme.

Agencies which were recipients of capacity supplementation (salary top ups) from CITAF were advised to include salary supplementation in their 2015/16 budget submissions to ensure the sustainability of these key positions in the future.

Completed projects will continue to support the national development outcomes post CITAF. Further technical assistance will be required on a short to medium term basis and this will be identified in the Public Service Strategy under two key streams of strengthening people and systems. The strategy will provide clarity on the consolidated goals to strengthen the public service and the broader public sector, in a structured and cohesive manner.

CITAF ended 30 June 2015.