Programme to show and grow council performance kicks off

A new programme aimed at lifting and demonstrating the value of local government kicked off this week, with the first council undergoing independent assessment.

Upper Hutt City Council is the first of 21 councils signed up to go through the Local Government Excellence Programme in its first year, with three more to be assessed before the elections.

The system is aimed at demonstrating and improving the value and services of councils by measuring indicators across leadership, finance, service delivery and community engagement.

Participating councils will be assessed by independent experts every three years, given an overall rating on a nine point scale from AAA to C, and the results publicised. Councils will discuss results with communities and use the assessments to plan improvements. The system will give communities a clear and independent picture of how well their council is performing in serving the community, and councils information on where they can improve.

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy says his council was keen to be involved at the earliest opportunity.

“There is an expectation that we all deliver best practice to our customers, our ratepayers, and we need to perform at the level that’s required,” Mr Guppy says.

“The private sector has been doing this for many years. It’s about learning from each other and also from outside the sector.”

“This programme will help the sector help communities and we will certainly be a stronger organisation for going through a process like this.”

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says the programme has been a long time in the making and has been developed in consultation with the sector.

“Whether it’s financial decision-making, the way we communicate and engage with the community, our governance and leadership or our service delivery and asset management, all councils will likely have areas they can improve on,” Mr Yule says.

“Most councils will no doubt also have areas they excel in. The Excellence Programme will highlight both the good and the areas for progress, and chart a way forward for local government improvement. Council best practice will be widely shared with the sector.”

Upper Hutt will be followed by Horowhenua District Council, Porirua City Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council in the first tranche of assessments, with 17 more to follow in late 2016 and early 2017.