Although why was that not brought up in the beginning
Last week at the Council Audit and Risk Committee the Auditor General delivered a report into how the recent and controversial Long Term Plan could have been conducted better through the feedback round (in which 27,000 people gave feedback).
From the Audit and Risk Committee agenda
Audit New Zealand report on LTP consultation document
1. This report sets out Audit New Zealand’s findings from the audit of the Auckland Council’s Consultation Document for the 2015-2025 Long–term Plan (LTP).
2. Audit New Zealand’s report on the audit of Auckland Council’s Consultation Document for the 2015-2025 Long–term Plan (LTP) is included as attachment A. This report sets out Audit New Zealand’s findings from this audit and draws attention to areas where the council is doing well or where they have made recommendations for improvement.
3. Audit New Zealand found that the council’s process for developing the consultation document included effective control processes and worked well in terms of creating strong buy-in from all parts of the council group and providing a clear focus on a small number of strategic issues.
4. Audit New Zealand’s report did not identify any areas that needed urgent attention but did make a total of nine recommendations for improvement. Of these recommendations:
three relate to learnings for future LTPs
four relate to ongoing improvement work
two relate to specific actions to be progressed in the near future.
5. In addition, a number of their recommendations were addressed as the final LTP document was prepared.
6. The two specific actions relate to the establishment, monitoring and reporting of formal budget holder and Treasury sign-off processes as part of the council’s standard budgeting processes. The Financial Planning team will work with the Internal Audit team to implement these two actions.
The question is why was this not picked up on before the consultation started earlier in the year. It would have saved a lot of grief and sharpened the focus up on and for the Long Term Plan.
The Auditor General went on to say basically in regards to communication:
Audit and Risk Committee 29 July 2015
13. Audit recommended that the consultation document is clearly and unambiguously utilised as the key document for consultation with the community. We note that for this LTP our household summary, our Have Your Say Events and our website content all requested that people read the full consultation document before making their submission.
14. In our view, providing all households with a summary of the key issues and questions in a widely accessible format helped to significantly boost the level of engagement compared to previous consultations. Giving minimal information to households, and relying on people’s willingness to seek out a more detailed consultation document for substantive information, would most likely have resulted in much lower levels of engagement and ultimately fewer submissions. In this case we received a significantly higher number of submissions (at 27,000) than for any previous Auckland Council consultation.
15. For future LTPs we will consider how to ensure that it is always clear that consultation document is the key document. We are currently undertaking a full review of the consultation process including assessing the experience of Aucklanders. This review will give a more reliable picture of the experience of Aucklanders with both the household summary and the
wider consultation process, and help inform how we consult on future LTPs.
That review mentioned in ’15’ will hopefully tell us whether that orange summary document that landed in people’s mail boxes was sufficient of whether the bigger blue one might have gone out instead (although at considerable cost).
In short those the LTP consultation could have been improved. That said the Governing Body actually following through on the wishes of submitters would have helped even more.