How to improve four-year planning

Medium-term planning in government departments: Four-year plans.


To continue to improve four-year plans, departments need to:

  • ensure that staff responsible for preparing four-year plans have a clear understanding of their purpose and audiences so the plans support the department's and the Government's decision-making needs and strategic intentions documents support Parliament's and the public's needs;
  • fully integrate the preparation of four-year plans into their strategic-planning process;
  • have a well-defined process for preparing a four-year plan that provides for good senior management involvement and oversight, and regular communication with the central agencies and other stakeholders;
  • ensure that the financial information contained in four-year plans is supported by the underlying financial information and is based on reasonable and supportable assumptions;
  • use a robust forecasting model that allows testing of a range of scenarios and their sensitivity; and
  • explain how they will achieve their objectives and strategic intentions, and any trade-offs and prioritisation.

The central agencies

To continue to improve four-year plans, the central agencies need to:

  • consider the relationship, purpose, and contents of four-year plans and strategic intentions documents to ensure that useful and good quality medium-term information is available for departmental, central agency, and governmental decision-making while serving the needs of Parliament and the public;
  • continue to improve their guidance about preparing four-year plans, including guidance on standard and common financial assumptions, and how the plans are used in the context of the Government's overall financial management system; and
  • work to improve medium-term planning by requiring departments to include information about medium-term planning matters, such as about capital and asset management intentions, for all Votes and appropriations the departments administer.