Auckland Council “alarmingly sub-par”

McGredy Winder’s monthly newsletter reports:

Alarmingly Sub Par

Far from being a well-oiled machine, Auckland Council seems to be spluttering and misfiring at an operational level. In a special Town Hall summer investigation, we dig into the operations of Auckland Council and discover that there is quite a lot to be concerned about.

During the 2016 Mayoral election, one of candidate Goff’s favourite refrains was how he was going to do “More with Less”. It was a good line, it had hit the mark for, then Finance Minister, Bill English in previous contests, it was a message that Aucklanders were hungry to hear, so there was no good reason why it wouldn’t do the job again.

Now that he’s running the show, Goff’s slogan pretty much translates into running an efficient and effective council. If we were going to produce a dashboard for the Mayor on how well he is doing with this, there would be in amber in the efficiency section, effectiveness measures would include some alarming red.

They have dug out some data:

To explain, over the summer months we have scoured through Finance and Performance (F&P agendas in order to dig out some time series KPI data for the Council. Effectively, we’ve pulled together some of the Council’s own performance metrics and presented them so that they are accessible and all in one place. These figures judge the Council on the basis that they themselves ask to be judged…
and it paints a fairly dim picture.

Before we come to the numbers and actual performance, the fact that this information needs to be dug out and isn’t readily and very obviously available is an indictment in itself. Any half decent Board of any half decent company would expect performance data like this to be front and centre in each month’s reporting. If it wasn’t, they would ask serious questions and insist that it was.

So a governance failure. And the data is concerning. Here is the change from 2015 to 2017:

  • Building consent applications processed within 20 days from 98% to 80%
  • Non-notified resource consents processed within 20 days from 95% to 77%
  • Notified resource consents processed within 70 days from 62% to 45%

So a huge drop in all three areas of consents. The target for them all is 100%.

Their summary:

  • Inspections and grading of food premises are materially below target and have deteriorated during the current financial year.
  • Inspections of alcohol premises are down on previous years and on operational targets.
  • Building consents processed within 20-working days are well below target and markedly
    below performance in previous years.
  • Resource consents processed within 20-days are down more than 20% on the 2016
  • Whilst progress with notified resource consents is often not within the control of the council alone, those processed within 70-days are up on the appalling result of 2016/17 but remain at around three quarters of the target.
  • Registered dog levels are below target and trending worse.
  • Noise complaint responses are getting worse and are now 35% below target

And why the change:

Let’s look a little more closely at building and resource consents, where of course there is a statutory obligation to process building consents and non-notified resource consents within 20 working days.

Council used to perform strongly in these areas, at or above 95% within 20 days. Then an improvement process called “Consenting Made Easy” was introduced. From everything we hear, it has had the polar opposite effect from the objective contained in its name – making things more difficult.

The majority of consents should be able to be applied for and granted electronically. You need to code in the district plan and then a website or app should be able to deal with the vast majority of consents.



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