Report of the Expert Review Group
This publication provides the September 2021 Report of the Expert Review Group established in response to recommendation one of the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and related matters.
ISBN: 978-0-473-60442-4 (Online)
ISBN: 978-0-473-60475-2 (Printed)
Review to consider whether the New Zealand Defence Force's organisational structure and record-keeping and retrieval processes are in accordance with international best practice and sufficient to remove or reduce the possibility of the failings identified by the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related Matters.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Expert Review Group Report
Why was the Expert Review Group established?
The Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and related matters (the Inquiry) recommended the Minister of Defence appoint an expert review group to consider whether the NZDF’s organisational structure and record-keeping and retrieval processes were in accordance with international best practice and sufficient to remove or reduce the likelihood of the failings identified by the Inquiry. The government accepted this recommendation and the Group was appointed by the Minister of Defence in October 2020.
What was the key purpose of the Expert Review Group?
The Expert Review Group’s terms of reference required the Group to undertake a two-phase assessment. Phase 1 was to consider the NZDF’s organisational structure and record-keeping and retrieval processes and make findings and recommendations to the Minister of Defence. Any other matter considered material to the scope of the terms of reference could also be considered. The overarching consideration to guide the scope of the work was that the Minister will receive full, accurate and timely reporting from the NZDF in the future.
What were the key findings and recommendations of the Expert Review Group?
The Expert Review Group made nine recommendations and a number of key findings on four key areas, based on the issues identified in the Inquiry report and the terms of reference set by Cabinet:
legislative and working arrangements between the NZDF, the Ministry of Defence and other government agencies on complex operational deployments,
the structure, function and purpose of Headquarters NZDF (HQNZDF),
the role, culture and structure of New Zealand’s Special Forces, and
the NZDF’s information management systems and practices and the flow of defence knowledge to the Minister of Defence.
Three overarching themes cut across the findings and recommendations. These themes relate to social licence, democratic oversight and transparency.
How did the Expert Review Group carry out its Review?
The Group had fortnightly meetings to consider written material and presentations from subject matter experts within the NZDF and Ministry of Defence on topics in the terms of reference. They conducted 47 interviews with people who had previously worked for, or who currently work for the New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Defence and wider public sector whose experience meant they were well placed to inform the work.
The Group considered a range of international perspectives and information from a number of defence partners to gain insights from their experiences.
A detailed description of the Expert Review Group’s review methodology available from page 93 (Appendix B) of the published Report of the Expert Review Group.
What is the timeframe for implementation and how will progress be monitored?
Officials from the NZDF and Ministry of Defence have completed an initial high-level assessment as to implementation of the recommendations.
Defence intends to approach implementation of the recommendations as an integrated programme of work, which is consistent with the Expert Review Group advice that the recommendations are mutually reinforcing.
Defence is in the process of implementing some recommendations. Other recommendations require in-depth assessment and planning prior to implementation.
The Defence agencies will report back to the Minister of Defence on progress made in implementing the Expert Review Group’s recommendations by 30 June 2023.
Officials will also provide the Minister of Defence with regular updates on progress made towards implementation.
Why was the original timeframe for completing the Review extended?
The original timeframe was for the report to be presented to the Minister by June 2021. The report was presented on 10 September 2021.
In early June 2021, the Minister of Defence informed the Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Cabinet External Relations and Security Committee of the need to extend the timeframe.
This was because the Expert Review Group identified that the scope of the Review was broader than initially intended, and an extended timeframe was therefore necessary to ensure a robust consultation process that ensured natural justice requirements could be carried out.
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