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The Corrections Chief and the Minister (A) 2009-96.1

25 February 2010



On 20 February 2009, the New Zealand Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews told media that he would not resign over an Auditor-General’s report criticising systemic failures in the management of parole. Though his new Minister was refusing to express her confidence in him, he felt certain that a pending review by the State Services Commission would endorse his management of the department. In his four years as head of Corrections he had set his first priority to deal with overcrowded prisons, but he said there had been a continuing focus on sentence and probation compliance. The audit report was to investigate promised improvements following a violent crime committed by an offender on parole, and the Auditor-General found that many of the loopholes remained in the system. But major changes to parole would be an important factor for improvement where many felt that probation officers should act like social workers and place sentence compliance below the redevelopment of offenders.

This leadership case, while it focuses on the relationship between a chief executive and a minister (in the New Zealand context where the CE’s employer is the State Services Commissioner). Part A can also be used to discuss other aspects of leadership such as resilience, as well as the wider political environment and the role of the media.

Read more:

  • Part B highlights the contrasting roles and relationships between the Minister, the Chief Executive, and the State Services Commissioner, and includes a detailed exhibit on the interpretation of accountability.
  • The Epilogue gives an overview of increased funding for Corrections and how it was allocated.
Authors: Janet Tyson
Published Date: 25 February 2010
Author Institution: Victoria University of Wellington, ANZSOG
Featured Content Length: 3
Content Length: 7
Product Type: Case with teaching note, Part A, Primary resources