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Testing and Refining Council Business Planning and Performance Frameworks

August 3, 2023

Internal Audits of Integrated Planning and Reporting - Maturing Assessments

Centium has recently been engaged by several NSW Councils to evaluate whether legislative requirements are addressed in their Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) documents.

These evaluation assessments are timely considering that councils are starting to prepare for the next IP&R cycle and provide councils with an opportunity to reflect on and assess their current suite of documents prior to their review for the September 2024 elections.

Our Scope and Approach

The Scope of our value-adding, maturity assessments is to evaluate whether IP&R processes are managed efficiently and accurately and for the benefit of Council and the community.

Our methodology involves an assessment against the Integrated Planning & Reporting Handbook (Office of Local Government, 2021) standards, which includes a checklist for councils in preparing their IP&R documents.

We assess the maturity of each of our clients’ IP&R elements against the Handbook (i.e. good, better, best). 

As our portfolio of engagements builds, we would now offer some reflections on the maturity of each IP&R element (noting of course that every council is different!).

Key Themes from Conducted Audits

Firstly, while the preparation of the overarching 10 year, four year and one year corporate documents are on the whole adequately resourced within councils, the individual elements of the Resourcing Strategy (e.g. Asset Plans, Budgets and Workforce Plans) are often developed in isolation and not well-aligned with other key corporate documents.

For example:

Long-Term Financial PlanKey workforce management strategies are not always reflected in the Delivery Program.
Would benefit from a detailed review of labour needs and gap analysis
Costs associated with delivering the Workforce Management Strategy not reflected in the Long Term Financial Plan.
Not always well aligned and often requires more consultation.
Workforce Management PlanningAsset registers and condition information are not up-to-date and regularly reviewed.
Asset management plans are outdated. 
Asset Management Strategy & PlansAsset registers and condition information are not up-to-date and regularly reviewed.
Asset management plans are outdated. 

All of our recommendations are first shared with council’s management team prior to finalising, and by presenting our agreed recommendations to the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee we raise awareness and facilitate consideration of resourcing and timing issues.

In all cases, we have appropriately shared better practices and case studies to assist councils to build capacity and inform planning of IP&R processes for the next cycle.  We have also supported the resolution of complex integration and alignment issues by facilitating workshops with Executive teams as and when requested. 

Centium’s integrity, independence, and extensive experience in providing risk and assurance services to a wide range of private and public sector organisations contributes to ensuring that our views are objective, and our analysis is sound and evidence based

How to Contact Centium

For further information on the IP&R Internal Audits, please contact Penny Corkill, Director Risk & Assurance on +61 0409 251 011 or email Penelope.Corkill@centium.com.au.

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