19 Nov 2014

DoC confused and frustrated - report

11:59 am on 19 November 2014

A new report into the structure of the Department of Conservation (DoC) has found the organisation is confused and frustrated - and the findings have come as no surprise to those in charge.

Department of Conservation

A new report says that the Department of Conservation is confused and frustrated. Photo: Photo NZ

Like many Government agencies the Conservation Department has been expected to do more with less.

Restructuring had seen funding and staff numbers reduced and the department divided into partnership and service divisions.

But the report suggested that staff were frustrated, DoC's leaders were not communicating, that the partnership and service divisions were confused, and that few believed it was any better-off post restructuring.

Department Director General Lou Sanson, who commissioned the report, was not surprised by the results.

In fact, he said the report echoed what staff in the field had been telling him since he started in the position a year ago.

"It was a large scale restructuring in any persons view. I have left it for a year to see how it's working, and I intend to make it work even better."

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Mr Sanson, a former DoC Ranger, said he would adopt the report's recommendations - including abolishing numerous committees and making sure the buck stopped with directors.

"It's either I make a decision, one of the deputy director generals makes a decision or a director makes a decision - there are no decisions made by committees and I'm making that abundantly clear to staff."

He said a key focus was improving communication between managers and rangers who work far and wide.

"I am putting managers as close-as-possible to their rangers, it is very hard to have good communication when 25 percent of your rangers are not located with a manager."

Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the report showed that restructuring had broken down the clear chain of command that was put in place after the Cave Creek disaster in 1995.

"That led to the previous structure for DoC of having a very clear hierarchy and line of accountability through the area offices and through to regional offices and national office.

"And the restructuring has completely obliterated that."

Ms Sage said the funding cuts had also led to reduced predator control operations and that was putting native birds at risk.

"What the report is showing is that the restructure is a total failure - that you can't do more with less - you end up doing less with less and it's just not working."

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said she was aware that DoC was planning to make some adjustments following its review of Government's restructuring.

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