2021 is an election year for NSW Local Government, and the provisions of the NSW Local Government Act 1993 require that all Councils review their full suite of Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) documents within nine months of the election. This includes:
These legal requirements can be onerous and resource intensive, but when done well, can offer Councils significant opportunities to improve their performance in a range of ways.
Streamlining current plans and strategies
A lot of work is likely to have been done already, so before you design your new plans the best place to start is with your current plans and strategies. It is not uncommon for a Council to have 30 or more plans and strategies that have been developed over many years, some of which are rarely or never reviewed, renewed or referred to. The IP&R implementation process provides an effective means of centralising and reviewing these documents to assess which of them need to remain active, which of them need no longer exist and which of them may be incorporated into documents within the IP&R framework.
Whole-of-term planning and greater Councillor involvement
The structure of the Delivery Program with its four-year outlook coincides with each Council term. It provides the basis for Councillors to plan and oversee activities and projects that they can initiate to address the Community Strategic Plan (CSP)’s long term goals. Throughout the Delivery Program and the related processes of document review and renewal, IP&R continues to provide Councillors with ongoing opportunities to exercise true civic leadership by being more visionary and refocusing their thinking from the near term to a point well beyond the horizon.
Sound resource planning
Asset maintenance and renewal is the greatest area of expenditure for every Council. However, it is fair to say that most Councils struggle to maintain a comprehensive, up-to-date register of assets, their condition, and related maintenance programs. Similarly, while expenditure on Council’s workforce establishment is significant, workforce planning decisions are often made on an ad hoc basis. IP&R requires Councils to review their resourcing systems and structures, identify any capacity gaps and make informed resourcing decisions that factor in the extent and urgency of identified deficiencies.
Broader staff involvement in achieving higher aims and objectives
In many councils, tasks surrounding medium and long-term planning have typically been managed by a small proportion of staff at mid-management level. This often results in a lack of effective communication and broad organisational awareness of the Council’s long-term goals and priorities. Staff not involved in these processes will therefore carry out their duties without any higher context or purpose. IP&R provides Councils with valuable opportunities to raise awareness and involve staff at every level in the long-term planning processes.
Enhanced capacity to report on achievements
Each of the plans within the IP&R framework are required to contain objectives, goals and measures that align with the community goals as described in the CSP. This offers Councils the opportunity to review the data they collect in reporting their performance and to furnish management, Councillors and the community with meaningful reports regarding Council’s achievements and changing aspirations.
Enhanced public image and support
The local government sector across NSW struggles at times to maintain a positive image and strong public support. The IP&R process provides Councils with valuable opportunities to draw in communities, local businesses, other government agencies and local media to work closely with them in developing the CSP. The process also affords Councils an opportunity to showcase their achievements and to provide insights into the challenges, restrictions, and limitations they have to address in their day-to-day operations.
The two critical times where Council can realise the benefits described above are:
Centium has a proven track record of working with Councils to assist in planning and delivering their IP&R framework. As a first step, Centium can work with Council to review existing plans and reports. We can then design a consultation and engagement process that is not only legislatively compliant, but also delivers tangible and measurable benefits to Council.
Importantly, Centium’s Council experts provide: