Doc restructuring panned by staff

A survey of Department of Conservation staff has found the overwhelming majority believe the department is now less efficient than before it was restructured.

The executive summary of a ''post implementation review'' at Doc by Australian management consultancy Taribon has been released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act.

Doc restructured into two arms in late 2013 - partnership and services - cutting 96 positions as it aimed to ''do more with less'' money by encouraging business and the public to take part in conservation work.

The review, done 12 months after the restructure, involved an online survey of 1006 of the department's 2089 staff and interviews.

It found while most staff agreed there was a need for change they did not feel the organisation had improved.

''Doc staff have a strong commitment to conservation but most are frustrated at how the organisation is working.''

The survey also found leaders who should be focusing on growth were being ''dragged into delivery'' of services and that more than 25% of rangers were not located with their manager, making it difficult to monitor or coach.

Partnerships and services were having to ''work through each other'' on daily work and any improvements were resulting in inefficiency as attendance at meetings and events was duplicated, it said.

''There is confusion as internal and external parties try to identify who to talk to.''

The report was also critical of a new committee structure and recommended some be ''demolished''.

''The internal communication system is not working.''

Doc director-general Lou Sanson said he had accepted all the findings of the review and had put a plan in place to address them.

Former Conservation Board chairwoman Assoc Prof Abby Smith said the findings appeared to reflect the experience of many stakeholders ''that Doc is less functional than it was before it was ''fixed''.''

''I am sure that I am among many who await the outcome of the director-general's plan to address the concerns raised in the report.''

She hoped once ''fixed'' Doc could ''get back to preserving conservation values, saving endangered species, managing a vast recreational resource and being the fine organisation it once was'', Prof Smith said.

Green Party conservation spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said the Government funding cuts and restructure showed more could not be done with less - it just meant less was done with less.

''The report confirms that the cumbersome new Doc structure, where staff are divided between partnership and services arms, has led to muddled and inefficient decision-making.''

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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