The Weekend Sun Column - 29th July 2016
JOHN ROBSON on Tauranga City Council...
Within weeks of being elected, I sawsigns of operational issues at TaurangaCity Council.These included:
- The poor state of the staff workingenvironment - a stark contrast withthe Mayor’s and CE’s soon-upgradedreception area,
- Windows XP (a 12 year-old operatingsystem) on the computer screen in theCouncillors’ lounge,
- And a somewhat inconsistent andincoherent induction programme.
As I engaged in the 2014/15 Annual Planbudgeting process, it was clear therewas no coherent strategy informing thedecision-making.
The last time I had seen such a strategyvacuum was last century – in GeneralMotors – and that lack of strategyultimately led to General Motors’bankruptcy.
But Councils don’t go bankrupt – theyjust take more money from ratepayers.
The budgeting process confirmedproblems with the ‘managementinformation system’ – updating numbersin the budget required a high level ofmanual intervention which was slow,resource-intensive and introduced riskof error.
All add to cost.
There was also evidence of ‘advocacy’- instead of receiving objectiveinformation, there was bias – an obviousexample being the ‘political ’ labellingof budget options that were put beforeCouncillors.
Without a clear strategy – and qualityinformation – decisions to allocateresources will be compromised.
And you will not get what the LocalGovernment Act says you have a right to– an effective and efficient Council.
The strategy and associated operationalissues were, in my professional opinion,self-evident – sadly, it took over ayear before these issues were openlyacknowledged – in report DC186 - whichshould have made the front page of theBay of Plenty Times.
Next week – what was in DC186?