Public sector finance & policy

We provide independent public policy analysis for clients across the public, private and community sectors. Our experts specialise in authoritative, evidence-based research and analysis and advice.

We have expertise in a wide range of specialist subject areas and sectors, including:

  • Health and social services;
  • Industry and trade policy;
  • Infrastructure issues, including physical infrastructure issues (e.g. issues regarding the provision of essential services such as electricity, gas, water and telecommunication services);
  • Immigration and labour markets;
  • Māori and Indigenous Australian economy;
  • Public administration, finance and funding;
  • Regulatory issues and tax;
  • Regional and urban development;
  • Science and innovation; and
  • Primary industries, the environment and natural resources.

Many of our experts have held senior positions within government in Australia and New Zealand. Our knowledge of the practicalities of policy making is combined with a thorough knowledge of the range of approaches commonly used to develop and assess public policy and regulatory development. We are aware that both markets and government have their limits and the key is to identify the trade-offs and to find the right balance, given the context and the outcomes sought.

Our private sector clients benefit from our understanding of the public policy development and decision making process. We can assist our private sector clients to influence the policy debate in their industry through independent, robust research and analysis.

We are an approved All of Government provider in New Zealand and for whole of government panels in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as other government panels across Australia and New Zealand.

What we do

We have consulting capacity across the public policy cycle. We can help you define the problem, design and analyse the options for solving the problem, and review the programme or policy once it has been put in place. Our evaluation capability can be found here. Our experts are skilled in a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, including:

  • Economic modelling and data and financial analysis;
  • Scenario, micro-simulation, probabilistic and risk modelling;
  • Applied welfare economic analysis (a technique for understanding who wins and loses from proposals and policies);
  • In-depth interviews and focus groups;
  • Surveys (including paper-based and online); and
  • Literature and document reviews.

Several of our experts have extensive expertise in conducting research with vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, children and youth, non-English speaking people, and groups from a variety of cultures including Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Australian peoples. We frequently work as multi-disciplinary teams to triangulate the quantitative and qualitative data sources, in order to construct the most robust evidence base possible. Our key service and product offerings include:

  • Business cases;
  • Quantitative;
  • Literature reviews;
  • Regulation;
  • Public finance;
  • Organisational review, strategy and design; and
  • Policy development and review.

Sapere has extensive experience in business case development for investment proposals in infrastructure, IT solutions and public services across a range of sectors, including health care, social services, regional development, public sector administration and finance.

Our clients have included New Zealand government departments, Crown entities and district health boards and Australian federal and all state governments.

Our business case specialists are experienced in the Better Business Case method (New Zealand Treasury trained) and similar methods in other jurisdictions and have experience in leading the development of indicative and detailed business cases for large investments. We are also called upon to play a contributing role, for example, facilitating workshops and preparing the cost benefit analysis for an economic case.

We also offer an Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) facilitator, trained by the Victoria Department of Treasury and Finance. ILM is a structured technique to clarify the problem and test the logic behind a proposed solution at the outset, typically in a workshop setting.

Examples of our business case work includes:

  • Leading the development of the indicative and detailed business cases for a major investment in the redevelopment of Dunedin Hospital campus;
  • Preparing the strategic and economic cases (including cost benefit analysis) for a budget bid the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to be migrated from an in-house platform to a modern cloud-based platform and service;
  • Leading the economic evaluation component of a business case for the Government Centre for Dispute Resolution for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment;
  • Preparing a strategic business case to consider the opportunity for an Innovation Precinct in the Christchurch CBD as part of the post-earthquake rebuild programme;
  • Leading the preparation of a strategic business case for a kaupapa Māori Integrated Family Health Centre in Christchurch, for the Ministry of Health;
  • Preparing business cases in support of proposed health technology investments, covering cancer treatment and medication safety; and
  • A major second pass business case for a large collaborative digitisation and digital collection initiative for three Australian Government cultural heritage agencies.

We have an extensive record in preparing high-quality quantitative analysis used to support decision-making, including social cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) and other economic assessment techniques. In particular, we specialise in the application of established tools and disciplines in non-standard settings (i.e. where there is not always a monetary value immediately available).

For example, we have carried out the cost benefit analysis of the proposed extension of the runway at Wellington International Airport, evaluated the economic benefit of Ultrafast Broadband to New Zealand ,and the a cost-benefit analysis of a warrant of fitness (minimum standard) for rental housing. In Australia Sapere has undertaken quantitative economic analysis across a range of sectors including: reform of electricity markets, energy efficiency, road safety, export tariff regulation and more.

We understand the value of information, and a review of literature is often a good place to start an assignment.

We have an in-house specialist information consultant and can quickly and effectively find important information resources, as part of a wider project or as a deliverable in itself.

With access to highly regarded local and international databases and sources of information, we use systematised search techniques to help us identify the salient themes in the literature.

Reviews we have recently completed include:

  • The benefits of physician-assisted helicopter emergency services;
  • Prevalence of a communicable disease;
  • Best practice treatment of a hand condition;
  • Use of the NZ decile school system by researchers and in literature; and
  • Return on investment in the film and television industry.

We have in-depth knowledge of the literature on regulatory options, including modern approaches to regulatory design and compliance. We are also well acquainted with the government’s expectations and requirements for the analysis of regulatory proposals in both New Zealand and Australia, and have hands-on experience with preparing and reviewing Regulatory Impact Statements. We have prepared several regulatory impact statements and regulatory burden assessments for the Australian and state governments in a range of sectors including energy, road safety, agricultural exports, water and resources.

Read more about our regulation experience.

Public finance underpins the resource allocation decisions made by government and the wider state sector. Our advice spans government fiscal policy and the budget process, investment decisions by public sector funders and providers, financial management including costing and forecasting, and procurement decision making, including outsourcing decisions.

We have first-hand experience of all facets of public finance, with several of our experts having held policy and operational roles in Treasury departments.

Our products have included business cases, cost models, cost benefit analyses, benchmarking of providers/services, and market scans and support for tender evaluation process.

Examples of our work in public finance include:

  • Analytical support and drafting for the New Zealand Treasury’s Long-term Fiscal Statement;
  • Business cases to support government department Budget bids, for example, for investment in IT-based solutions;
  • A review of the New Zealand Treasury’s cost benefit analysis tool for budget bids (CBAX);
  • Constructing a detailed costing model to inform the development and roll-out of the National Bowel Screening Programme in New Zealand;
  • Cost benefit analysis of the impacts of proposed regulatory standards, for example, a minimum standard for rental housing and new regulations for building emergency management;
  • Feasibility study into a social cost benefit analysis of workplace health & safety legislation;
  • Assessment of the cost of education – modelling the cost of school-based education for the “average student”;
  • A think piece on purchasing in the state sector and the merits of in-house delivery versus outsourcing / contracting out service delivery models;
  • Benchmarking of cleaning service costs among tertiary education institutions;
  • Support for the evaluation of tenders to support procurement decisions, including financial evaluation and the assessment of the allocation of risk and incentives; and
  • A think piece on the applications of social investment approach to the state sector for the New Zealand Treasury.

Our experts work with senior managers in public, private and community organisations to help their organisations to deliver on strategic objectives, influence their environment, and prioritise resources for impact. Our approach is collaborative and supports evidence-based decision making and effective implementation.

We can help with:

  • Designing organisation-wide accountability, leadership and performance frameworks;
  • Developing performance improvement strategies and plans for organisations or functions;
  • Advising on governance and structural arrangements for existing or proposed new bodies;
  • Reviewing and supporting improvements to business systems, processes and practice;
  • Strategic assessment, financial modelling and risk analysis of alternative program and service implementation options, including contracting with third parties; and
  • Appraisals of major projects including gateway reviews for capital expenditure proposals.

We have:

  • Developed an integrated leadership framework and supporting resource structure for a large Victorian Government department;
  • Independently reviewed individual departments as part of the New Zealand’s Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) reviews of central government agencies;
  • Assisted with the development and implementation of a performance framework for health services in New Zealand;
  • Independently assessed various local governments’ performance under the Local Government New Zealand’s local government excellence programme; and
  • Reviewed Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s project management framework and provided further advice on organisational improvement.

Many of our experts have worked in senior roles in the public sector. We are familiar with government processes and have been involved in all stages of the policy process from inception through to the legislative process (select committees). We can collaborate with your staff, or provide review.