In September 2021 the NSW Office of Local Government published new guidelines for Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R), which included a new requirement to publish a program of Service Reviews:
4.3 To encourage continuous improvement across the council’s operations, the Delivery Program must identify areas of service that the council will review during its term, and how the council will engage with the community and other stakeholders to determine service level expectations and appropriate measures.
This focus on service reviews within the IP&R Guidelines follows through on the changes made to the NSW Local Government Act in 2016 which included a new statement that the role of the governing body is …. to keep under review the performance of the council, including service delivery (s223(1)(g)).
The responsibility for service reviews was also included into the responsibility of the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee (s428A(2)(g)) which must monitor the service reviews undertaken by the Council.
We wanted to see how our Councils are complying with this new requirement, so we took a sample of twenty of our clients’ Delivery Programs (2022-2026) to analyse the current state of play. Here’s a summary of our findings:
We selected Cumberland Council as a great example because it not only meets the guidelines, but also has the following features:
|Advantages||The Cumberland Delivery Program 2022-2026 says:|
|Demonstrates a commitment to service reviews||Service reviews are a vital process that Cumberland City Council uses to ensure that services and facilities meet community needs and wants as well as into the future.|
|Allocates resources to the program||Council is investing significantly in its internal ability to provide an internal better practice service review program, and will complement this capacity with consultants where technical expertise is required|
|Published program offers accountability and transparency||Council’s four year service review plan is outlined below, and progress will be reported in each Annual Report|
The published program seems targeted and realistic, and describes the purpose of each service review:
While the purpose of the new requirement is to ensure continuous improvement, a rolling program of service reviews can also put Councils and Councillors in a better position to:
Centium can provide support to meet these new requirements no matter what your starting point. We can look across all services, to set organisational priorities for both the services selected for review and also the purpose and objectives of conducting the review.
We can also assist you to design and conduct a service review. We bring fresh eyes, depth of local government experience and technical capability to conduct a thorough analysis and offer realistic and targeted recommendations for improvement. We will work with your internal corporate and service management professionals in a way that recognises and enhances your inhouse skills and experience.