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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30868" align="aligncenter" width="735"] The data skills shortage is common across state and local government professionals, a peak says.[/caption]

As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public sector, local government professionals say they need investment in professional development. 

The NSW Government has announced plans to release a new set of online resources on how to find and use data after a survey of 1,000 public servants by Digital NSW found 95 per cent said they would benefit from learning more about data in their role.

Dawn Rutledge, acting government chief information, said there was an overwhelming response from those surveyed that the best way to access tools to support data capability is through e-learning.

More than half of the survey’s respondents, who came from departments across NSW, provided detailed responses about their data challenges and nominated finding and using data to inform decision making as among their key issues. 

[caption id="attachment_30874" align="alignright" width="143"] Dawn Routledge[/caption]

Ms Rutledge said the survey aimed to establish a detailed picture of what the government should “do next” and where it should focus resources to improve skills in the public service.

“The respondents talked about increasing their skills in using data, increased access to data experts, building a community to share knowledge and experience, and access to tools and resources to help them use data more effectively in their work,” she said.

According to Annalisa Haskell, chief executive of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW, local government is equally in need of support. 

“It’s the critical thinking skills and ability to do deduction, what the data is actually telling us, that’s the skill I see is missing,” she told Government News.

It’s hard because those skills come about through practice in using data and assessing what it tells us. That’s the issue we have. We have a lot of data and local government is providing significant reports but it is more limited in what it is saying about intelligence and insight.”

NSW budget fails to upskill

Ms Haskell said NSW Government needs to help to build the generalised management and analysis skills “for the future” among local government professionals.   While the state’s budget provided funding for qualifications, there was no funding for “business management and information integration skills,” she said. “Where is the funding for the hugely important skill development we need to help staff understand areas like management information and analysis? If the State Government is really committed to helping local government understand their data it could help councils with data competence,” she said. Ms Haskell, who runs the Australasian Local Government Performance Excellence Program, a voluntary council benchmarking program, said she had discussed the need for state and local government to partner on improving data capability. “State and local government need to work together much more closely. I wish to help get state and local governments working together on data issue and am working to do this so we can learn from each other and assist better community outcomes,” she said.
Don't miss our Operational Report: Data for an in-depth look at how governments are using data for intelligence and improved service delivery. Out in next Tuesday's Government News newsletter. 
[post_title] => Data skills shortage is common across state and local government: peak [post_excerpt] => As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public service, local government professionals say they also need investment in professional development. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => data-skills-shortage-is-common-across-state-and-local-government-peak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 14:47:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 04:47:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30867 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30837 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 09:11:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-21 23:11:47 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30857" align="aligncenter" width="710"] Councils don't always properly analyse services or business cases before entering joint delivery: auditor.[/caption] Collaboration in local government can save money and improve access to services but a new survey shows most councils are not effectively engaging in shared services. Insufficient planning, inappropriate governance and a lack of capability are among the main factors preventing more councils in NSW from efficiently and effectively engaging in shared services, according to a new report from the state’s audit office. The report, released yesterday, also found the state’s Office of Local Government did not provide specific support or guidance to councils on how to effectively share services, despite it being a widely used delivery model across the sector. The Auditor-General has recommended the OLG produce guidance on shared services for the local government sector by April 2019. The auditor’s report, based on a survey completed by 67 councils, found 87 per cent were engaged in shared services, and 27 per cent negotiating or considering future shared services.  The most prevalent areas of joint delivery were waste and recycling, environmental, road services, procurement, asset management and human resources. 

Barriers to excellence 

However, the report identified several key factors that are preventing councils from effectively and efficiently engaging in joint services. It found that local governments do not always analyse their existing services or build a business case before entering into shared service. “At a minimum, councils should assess the costs of service delivery, the resources needed to deliver them, community needs and expectations, the possibility of cost savings and increased efficiency, and alternative service delivery models (e.g. outsourcing, shared services),” the report found. Ineffective governance models were identified as another key barrier. “For each model, councils need to determine shared services membership, decision-making processes, reporting lines, and delegations,” the report said. Given shared services arrangements can involve complex planning and negotiations, the report found that capability was another factor preventing many councils from effectively executing collaborations.   “Councils do not always have the capability to identify which services to share, negotiate with partner councils, or plan and evaluate shared service arrangements. We found that many councils do not seek out support or guidance for their shared service arrangements.”

Sources of advice 

Support for identifying, negotiating, planning and evaluating shared service arrangements is available from other councils, regional organisations, peak bodies, professional associations, universities and the private sector, the audit office said. While part of the role of OLG is to work with the sector on policy and programs intended to strengthen local government, including councils' service delivery, the report said the OLG did not provide specific support or guidance to councils about effectively sharing services. “Guidance or principles to help councils decide on effective and transparent governance models would benefit the sector,” it said. It recommended the OLG develop guidance outlining the risks and opportunities of governance models that councils can use to share services. “This should include advice on legal requirements, transparency in decisions, and accountability for effective use of public resources.” For councils, the audit office recommended they base decisions about shared services on a “sound needs analysis”, review of service delivery models and a strong business case. Councils should also ensure the governance models they choose are fit for purpose, ensuring clear roles, responsibilities and accountability. Local governments should also build the capability of councillors and council staff in the areas of assessing and managing shared services, leading to better understanding of opportunities and management of risk, the report found.

OLG: welcomes report

The OLG told Government News it welcomed the auditor’s report and its observations on strengthening local government performance in shared service delivery. “The report’s recommendation that the Office of Local Government develop guidance in the risks and opportunities of shared services will provide valuable support for councils,” a spokesperson said. “The NSW Government has recently introduced a major initiative to support council collaboration and provide a robust governance framework for councils to undertake shared services through the establishment of 11 new joint organisations. “The Office of Local Government looks forward to working with the NSW Auditor-General and the Audit Office to implement the findings of the report, as we continue to support local councils to deliver high quality, value for money services for their communities,” the spokesperson said.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
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[post_title] => Poor governance, capability hindering shared services [post_excerpt] => Collaboration in local government can save money and improve access to services but a new survey shows most councils are not effectively engaging in shared services. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => poor-governance-capability-hindering-shared-services [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:04:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:04:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30837 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30825 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 08:46:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-21 22:46:35 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30828" align="aligncenter" width="715"] Cyclones and tornados have shown how vulnerable some Queensland communities are.[/caption] From highly-equipped communities to new disaster dashboards, councils are focusing on preparedness and information in their approaches to emergency management. After a tornado ripped through Burrum Heads in 2013 leaving it isolated and without power for three days, the coastal Queensland community of some 2,000 residents knew it needed to better prepare for major emergencies. Today the town’s community centre is geared up with a generator, radio and first-aid and evacuation kits while volunteers have drafted a list of vulnerable residents who have nominated themselves as needing assistance in an emergency. Burrum Heads is one of 14 small coastal communities that are vulnerable to becoming isolated in an emergency and are taking part in a unique preparedness program initiated by Fraser Coast Regional Council. [caption id="attachment_30830" align="alignright" width="141"] Rolf Light[/caption] “What we’ve done is enabled and empowered these communities,” says Rolf Light, chair of the council’s local disaster management group. “We’ve given them a very sophisticated radio network, Red Cross evacuation kit, defibrillators, remote area first aid kits and generators,” he tells Government News. The Community Coordinator Centres program largely came about after the tornado that rocked Burrum Heads illustrated how vulnerable small coastal communities could be. “They had a horrendous tornado rip through the town which caused extensive damage and left them without power for several days. We didn’t have this program then... the one thing people were saying was they needed information. “If something like that happens now the community can get their generator going, we can talk to them on the radio, keep them updated and find out what their critical needs are.”

Volunteer training

As well as providing the communities with the essential equipment, the program also trains local residents in how to use it, as well as how to man evacuation centres more broadly.  “We’ve put them through disaster coordination centre training, radio training and Red Cross training,” says Cr Light. “Of course, there are different levels of enthusiasm and interest across the communities. Burrum Heads is a standout - they have assigned portfolios with people responsible for looking after different areas like communications, evacuation management and catering. “They’ve taken it one step further and gone out into the community and developed a voluntary, confidential vulnerable person list – so if a first responder goes into Burrum Heads they can immediately get that list of vulnerable people and their medical conditions. That’s pretty powerful,” he says. The program, which has been rolling out since 2014, is about to expand to 15 communities, Cr Light said. “Often people think that in our society, government has to do everything for us. But after a number of big events that we've had, people have realised they could be on their own for a few days. “I’m pretty blunt with communities and tell them they should have provisions for up to five days because if we have a situation with multiple emergencies the fact is we can’t be on the white horse riding into your town straight away.”  

‘Disaster dashboards’ proving key  

Reflecting a growing trend among local government in Australia, Fraser Coast has also recently launched an online disaster dashboard – a single source of key information for residents during an emergency. Cr Light says the site, which launched in March, provides a single source of information on weather, public warnings, road closures, maps and even social media feeds. “During severe weather events, council’s phone lines can often become congested quickly, so the earlier people get the information they need, the better chances they have to avoid potentially dangerous situations,” he said. [caption id="attachment_30831" align="alignright" width="165"] Kelly Vea Vea[/caption] Similarly, Isaac Regional Council found that a cyclone event last year highlighted the importance of having a single source of information for the public during emergencies. Late last month the council launched its "disaster dashboard" to ensure communities were well-informed during significant events.  “People will find real-time information on road conditions and closures, regional power outages, local weather warnings, fire danger updates, school closures as well as links to state and local disaster preparedness information and emergency contact details,” says Kelly Vea Vea, deputy mayor. With 17 communities spread across 58,000 square kilometres from the coast to the coalfields, the council realised that maintaining connection and information flow to residents, as well as to key local sectors like mining and agriculture, was critical, Cr Vea Vea told Government News. “We found that we can be talking to someone in rising flood waters on top of a school in a remote area and our communications will drop out. Communication across the region is extremely important for us,” she says. The region has 26 working coal mines which often means considerable movement of people across large swathes of area, she says. “It’s important we can provide as much information as succinctly as possible to industry players, so they can communicate to their people travelling across the region for work.”  
Don't miss our upcoming special report on council approaches to emergency management and resilience. If you know of an innovative approach we should cover, get in touch: editorial@governmentnews.com.au  
[post_title] => Disaster plan ‘empowers’ vulnerable towns [post_excerpt] => From highly-equipped communities to new disaster dashboards, councils are focusing on preparedness and information in their approaches to emergency management. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => disaster-plan-empowers-vulnerable-towns [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:04:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:04:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30825 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30792 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:51:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:51:52 [post_content] => Our wrap of the latest appointments in and around government and the public service across Australia.

In this wrap:

  • New LGA SA president
  • New acting GM for Lismore City Council
  • Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns
  • Robotics expert appointed NSW Chief Scientist
  • New appointments and expansion at ANZSOG
[caption id="attachment_30794" align="alignright" width="131"] Sue Clearihan[/caption]

New LGA SA president

City of Adelaide Councillor Sue Clearihan has been appointed the new Local Government Association of South Australia president following the resignation of City of Onkaparinga Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg on 7 June. Clr Clearihan will remain in the position until the appointment of a new board and president in October. She said her focus for the next four months would be working with the LGA board, member councils and the State Government on local government reform to restore confidence in the sector. [caption id="attachment_30795" align="alignright" width="132"] Scott Turner[/caption]

Acting GM for Lismore City Council

The current assets manager of Lismore City Council, Scott Turner has been appointed acting general manager by Council. Mr Turner will take on the role after the departure of GM Gary Murphy, who stepped down late last week. Previously, Mr Turner worked as a civil engineer and for Mosman Municipal Council as the manager of assets and engineering services for more than a decade and has been with Lismore City Council for 12 years.

Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns

[caption id="attachment_30796" align="alignright" width="137"] Philip Davies[/caption] After three years as CEO of Infrastructure Australia, Philip Davies has resigned and will be leaving the organisation at the end of August. Mr Davies delivered the Australian Infrastructure Audit and Australian Infrastructure Plan and was a key advocate for infrastructure reform. Infrastructure Australia has started recruiting for a new CEO and is yet to detail interim arrangements. The organisation recently appointed a new executive director of policy and research, Peter Colacino, who is currently executive general manager of corporate affairs at NRMA, and will start in the role in July. [caption id="attachment_30797" align="alignright" width="135"] Hugh Durrant-Whyte[/caption]

New NSW chief scientist

The NSW Government has appointed leading robotics expert Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte as its chief scientist and engineer. Professor Durrant-Whyte, who recently worked as the chief scientific adviser for the UK Ministry of Defence and formerly as the director for translational data science at the University of Sydney, will commence in the role in September. The appointment comes after the resignation of Professor Mary O’Kane who served as the NSW chief scientist and engineer for nine years.

Appointments at ANZSOG

[caption id="attachment_30798" align="alignright" width="140"] Michelle LeBaron[/caption] The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) has appointed new researches as part of a broader organisational expansion. Professor Michelle LeBaron from the University of British Columbia in Canada, who specialises in conflict transformation, dispute resolution, culture and resilience, has joined the faculty. The University of Melbourne’s Professor Janine O’Flynn was also recently appointed the school's Professor of Public Management. The appointments come as the school expands its operations in Perth, Brisbane and Wellington.
Have we missed an appointment? Send the details and an image to: editorial@governmentnews.com.au
Last issue’s Noticeboard:  MAV appoints first female chief executive
[post_title] => Noticeboard: Sue Clearihan appointed LGA SA president [post_excerpt] => Also in this wrap: new acting GM for Lismore City Council; Infrastructure Australia CEO resigns; robotics expert appointed NSW Chief Scientist; and appointments and expansion at ANZSOG. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => noticeboard-sue-clearihan-appointed-lga-sa-president [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:52:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:52:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30792 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30786 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-18 16:50:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 06:50:02 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30787" align="aligncenter" width="655"] Data capture to predict risk in assets is among technologies being used by councils.[/caption] New and emerging technologies are helping councils to predict risk within infrastructure assets and improve accountability and service delivery. Campbelltown Council is spearheading innovative asset management after transforming its road management through an award-winning process that captures data and enables the prediction of risk in assets. With responsibility for $400 million in road assets and a growing population necessitating investment in infrastructure, developing a sustainable road management strategy was critical to optimising the council’s budget. The infrastructure asset management team developed a method to capture data on the condition of assets and automatically generate a risk score for each asset. [caption id="attachment_30789" align="alignright" width="179"] Mahbub Hossain[/caption] Mahbub Hossain, coordinator of asset services at Campbelltown Council, said that in automating risk assessments the technology helps to significantly mitigate asset risk, reduce the renewal backlog and improve service levels. “The program enabled us to identify and deliver desired levels of service for users of council’s assets, reduce the life-cycle cost of maintaining asset stock and reduce the risk of infrastructure asset failure,” he said. The management of risk is at the centre of all asset management processes, particularly for determining and monitoring intervention levels and prioritising asset maintenance, he said. The asset condition score, which is measured on a scale of one to 10 (one being ‘very poor condition’ and 8-10 being ‘excellent condition’) is used to prioritise maintenance and improve service delivery. The implementation of the program enables complex risk assessments to be completed more efficiently, according to Mr Hossain. “In order to determine the priority of maintenance requirements the defects of all assets are compared in terms of the probability of failure and the consequences of failure. A risk score for every component for all assets is automatically generated. By ranking the risk scores, a risk-based maintenance program is generated.” Prior to 2000, councils’ financial constraints limited it to 10 to 20 major projects per year, but since implementing the program it now carries out 400 to 500 minor projects allowing it to free more budgets for cost-effective maintenance. The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia in a report in 2016 called on other councils to follow Campbelltown’s approach. The project won the Local Government Excellence Award last year and the International ISSA Award for Excellence in Pavement Preservation in 2016, among other accolades.

Technologies leading to efficiencies

Another technology automating risk assessments in council assets is Black Moth, a mobile vision system that automates road defect inspections by enabling vehicles to capture detailed images and videos of the condition of roads. The technology consists of smart cameras and a vision server fitted onto a traditional road inspection vehicle that enable it to undertake an advanced road survey of risks such as potholes while it’s driving. Scott Gemmell, CEO of Black Moth, said the move towards automated technology in public infrastructure meant there was an increasing need for more efficient processes to manage council assets. “With the nature of roads and where we’re heading with automated vehicles and driverless cars, buses and other technology it will become more and more crucial that roads are serviced quickly,” he said. “Shortening that cycle between identifying a road defect and getting it repaired is crucial. Turning a reactive regime into a proactive regime is where technology can come in.” By automating road condition assessments the technology dramatically differs from traditional operator assessments. “It’s a safer, more streamlined approach that allows the operator to cover more ground on a daily basis because they’re not having to stop and assess the situation,” he said. The team is working on rolling out AI which will enable predictive analytics to predict future areas of concern based on past data, said Mr Gemmell. Another technology helping councils to improve asset management is Asset Vision, a cloud-based asset management platform to manage and report on asset and contractor performance and manage contract risk through surveillance and audits. It offers real-time notifications across web and mobile to key asset teams notified about the condition of assets, as well as in field capture of defects on site.
Related GN coverage: How councils can optimise asset management, mitigate risks
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[post_title] => Councils leveraging technology to predict asset risk [post_excerpt] => New and emerging technologies are helping councils to predict risk within infrastructure assets and improve accountability and service delivery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-leveraging-technology-to-predict-asset-risk [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:06:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:06:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30786 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30772 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-18 16:10:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 06:10:10 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30774" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Consult Australia is urging governments to adopt its ethical procurement policy.[/caption] Major Australian engineering and design firms are calling on Australian governments to adopt a new policy for ethical and fair dealings with private contractors. The association for consulting firms in the built environment has produced a framework outlining how governments can work better with industry, as several states roll out major infrastructure agendas. Consult Australia, which represents consulting firms in the built and natural environment sectors including major firms such as Aecom, Arcadis and Aurecon, says the new principles would ensure governments behave ethically and fairly in their dealings with suppliers. The 14 principles cover a range of areas including contracts, fairness and risk allocation, working relationships, tendering, briefs and payment. “We hear a lot about industry muscle but government has muscle too, through its size, stability and tremendous purchasing power,” says CEO Megan Motto. The association argues the issue is particularly pertinent as several governments currently invest heavily in various civil and social infrastructure. While there has been a plethora of procurement reviews by Commonwealth and state governments and the Productivity Commission in recent years, successive governments have failed to address the recommendations these inquiries have consistently put forward, Ms Motto said. [caption id="attachment_30779" align="alignright" width="164"] Megan Motto[/caption] “We believe we’re at a point where our desire for infrastructure development, knowing it’s something that keeps cities liveable and drives our economy, means we have to start cutting through and embedding some of these principles for efficiency,” she told Government News. She pointed to the limited use of standard contracts currently as a key issue impacting private suppliers and contractors. “I would suggest there is well in excess of 1,000 contract forms floating around and our industry somehow has to deal with that,” she said. “Small businesses are particular affected as they don’t have in-house legal counsel to look at bespoke contracts and understand the risk allocation and obligations.” Other issues raised by suppliers were contracting out legislative provisions and setting unreasonable limits of liability, she said. “We believe these things are untenable and unreasonable, and they don’t make for a collaborative, sustainable industry.” A 2015 report by Consult Australia highlighted taxpayers could save 5.4 per cent on the cost of projects if government and industry worked better together, she said. “While we do not wish to give such feedback, its important governments are aware of what is taking place. At the moment there is a wall of silence: industry cannot talk to government through fear of being out of favour for future work,” she said. The 14 principles draw on the various recent reviews into procurement, the Commonwealth’s own “model litigant policy” and the extensive work Consult Australia has previously undertaken independently. “The key point is that if we’re looking to have more efficient infrastructure provision and more innovation in the sector then we have to do things in a different way in the future; that means we need much better partnership through the supply chain, which requires all sides to work as model parties,” said Ms Motto. Access the 14 principles here
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[post_title] => Governments must use procurement ‘muscle’ responsibly [post_excerpt] => Major Australian engineering and design firms are calling on Australian governments to adopt a new policy for ethical and fair dealings with private contractors. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => governments-must-use-procurement-muscle-responsibly [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 10:05:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:05:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30772 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30661 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 09:36:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-11 23:36:12 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30670" align="aligncenter" width="670"] The NSW Government has legislated for new regional collaboration among councils.[/caption] As an Australian-first model for collaboration between councils rolls out across NSW, the Office of Local Government CEO tells Government News the new network is flexible enough to meet regional priorities. The new organisations facilitating regional collaboration among councils are mandated by law to deliver just three functions, leaving them able to pursue a range of activities suited to their specific needs, according to Tim Hurst, acting chief executive of the Office of Local Government NSW. “The legislation only mandates three core functions – strategic planning and priority setting, intergovernmental collaborating and shared leadership and advocacy. [caption id="attachment_30664" align="alignright" width="179"] Tim Hurst[/caption] “In practice, they can undertake a huge range of activities, such as shared services, regional leadership, economic development – there are many other things that, through the pilots, we learned councils wanted to use these entities for,” says Mr Hurst. Last month, the NSW Government announced that 74 councils across the state had voluntarily signed up to the new network of 11 joint organisations, which will “strengthen collaboration” between state and local government on “important regional projects.” Since the government passed legislation establishing the network late last year, the Office of Local Government has been working with councils on the membership of organisations that best suits their needs. Mr Hurst says the model of joint organisations is something that’s been driven by the local government sector. He points to the 2013 local government review panel, which highlighted councils’ concern about existing methods for regional collaboration, and the evaluation of five regional pilots of joint organisations in 2015, which found 80 per cent of participants agreed led to better alignment of local, regional and state priorities. “So we knew they worked,” Mr Hurst says. “We then used the evaluation process to co-design a final form of the model, which had to be enabled through legislation.” Having been given the status of an entity under the Local Government Act, the joint organisations have all the powers and responsibilities of a council, but with the proviso they cannot exercise that authority without member councils first delegating it, Mr Hurst said.
“We’ve made them a very powerful entity under the act but we also made them fully under local government control."
Over 90 per cent of councils that were eligible to make a resolution to engage in a joint organisation did so, Mr Hurst points out.

More expected to join

When asked about the councils that had not chosen to join the new network, Mr Hurst says that some had “technical issues” with how they framed their resolutions. “The legislation was clear it had to be unambiguous they were making their own decision to join, what they were joining and who they were joining with, and in some cases if they didn’t do that correctly we couldn’t, under the legislation, put them into the joint organisation. “A few councils have had to fix their resolution and we’ll go back and proclaim them into their chosen joint organisation in a second round,” he said. In addition, Mr Hurst says there was a group of councils in the far west that were offered a different model with greater funding, and seven of eight of these local governments have agreed to these arrangements and will be proclaimed into two new joint organisations in July. “We expect that even more councils are going to be joining the existing network and the network will grow to encompass the far west of the state when we get to July.”

Implementation phase

Given the councils involved in the pilots are “much more advanced in their thinking and practice,” the OLG has a program in place to share those insight and experience with other councils that are new to the network, Mr Hurst said. “We have a process of helping the new joint organisations understand the capacity of the new model and what it can deliver to them,” he said. For now, there’s a list of “terribly practical processes” each joint organisation has to follow as it establishes itself, including electing a chairperson from its members, employing an executive officer, adopting a code of conduct, developing a charter and a statement of regional priorities, he says. “The first meeting is important,” Mr Hurst says. “Only one has had its first meeting so far – the Central NSW Joint Organisation, but we have one more happening tomorrow and two more on Wednesday next week.” The OLG has produced a guidance document that steers the organisations through their establishment phase, which it sees as being between now and 1 July. “Then the operational phase begins after 1 July when they have governance arrangements in place, they’ve had their first meeting and are able to start delivering some of their priorities,” he says.

Evaluation: deliver on infrastructure, service   

Asked how the joint organisations will be monitored, Mr Hurst says the OLG has a template for evaluating their success, which will measure “their ability to improve infrastructure and service delivery outcomes in their regional communities.”
“They’ll have similar reporting obligations to councils; they’ll prepare annual financial statements, they’ll be audited by the Auditor-General. But we’ll be specifically evaluating how in different regions they are taking advantage of the model to actually deliver better outcomes to communities at a regional level."
He says the joint organisations will likely be in operation for a year before the OLG begins evaluating their outcomes. “We’d be looking to do that probably in the second half of next year.” Mr Hurst confirms that the evaluation will involve “feeding back what we learn into improving practice across the whole network, right from the beginning.”

‘Not too late’

Given some councils are still in discussions about whether to engage with a joint organisation, Mr Hurst said that “it’s not too late” for a local government to participate in the network. “When we proclaim the additional joint organisations in the far west we can use that opportunity to add new councils.” He says the joint organisations network is a “good example of co-design that’s gone at its own pace and now, after a few years of patience and working with the sector, it’s delivering results.”
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[post_title] => Broad agenda for new joint organisations, says OLG chief [post_excerpt] => As an Australian-first model for collaboration between councils rolls out across NSW, the Office of Local Government chief executive tells Government News the new network is flexible enough to meet regional priorities. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => broad-agenda-for-new-joint-organisations-says-olg-chief [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-15 12:10:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-15 02:10:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30661 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30620 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-08 08:36:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-07 22:36:41 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30623" align="aligncenter" width="647"] Heatwaves injure and kill more people in Sydney than any other shock event: assessment. [/caption] Heatwaves pose the greatest threat to Sydney, followed by storms and bushfires, according to an international benchmark of cities’ capacity to handle shocks and stresses. Infrastructure failure, the collapse of financial institutions, terrorist attacks and digital network failures are all identified as potential “acute shocks” facing Sydney but its heat that presents the greatest threat to Australia’s most populous city, according to a new assessment. Since 2015 Sydney and Melbourne have been leading local governments, businesses and community groups in the development of a resiliency strategy for their cities, through their involvement in the 100 Resilient Cities initiative. The Rockefeller Foundation-backed resiliency program helps cities develop and implement strategies to survive and recover from key contemporary challenges such as urbanisation and climate change. Beck Dawson, chief resilience officer with City of Sydney, told the Local Government Professionals NSW conference on Wednesday that the risk assessment identified heat as Sydney’s greatest potential shock yet few governments had emergency responses in place. “More people end up in hospital and more people die as a result of extreme heat in Sydney than any other shock event that we’ve had to date,” she told the Sydney audience. The assessment drew on the World Economic Forum’s risk list, a review of 50 past shock events in Australia and New Zealand, and the key incidents that occurred in the 25 South East Asian cities participating in the program, she said. It was also informed by community consultation across Sydney in which communities nominated their chief concerns. While Sydney has a diverse population – with 39 per cent of adults in the city born in another country – there was “huge commonality” across the different regions in terms of what citizens were concerned about. “We were expecting lots of diversity in the views during the different workshops, but when it came to being safe, to talking about the things we valued, the priorities were the same across the city,” Ms Dawson said.

Vulnerabilities: health a key stress

Aside from sudden shocks, the risk assessment also identified Sydney’s key stresses – the slow burning, long-term issues that can cause major harm if left unaddressed. Health issues, in particular chronic disease, topped that list, as they added pressure to an already stretched health system and left the city vulnerable to shocks such as a heatwave, Ms Dawson said. “In Sydney, more than half of adults today are overweight and obese. On top of that, one in four will have mental health issues in their lifetime which will impact their workplaces, family and friends.” Drug and alcohol is the biggest driver of police time across the city and has an ongoing impact on family violence, she added. Social cohesion was nominated as an issue of concern by the community, yet it did not rate in conversations with government and the private sector, Ms Dawson said.

Strategy: social cohesion, preparedness

The risk analysis had guided conversations among the 33 councils and the state government agencies involved in the project about the allocation of resources against key risks, as well as the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, she said. The city’s resilience strategy, which has been more than two years in development, is being finalised for a July release and will outline five directions for action. To boost community preparedness, the project will aim to encourage 100,000 Sydney residents to download and use a new Red Cross app, Get Prepared. It’s also looking at economic resilience assessments for key CBDs, which would involve eight local governments, and working to maximise governments’ various social cohesion programs given the importance of community in responding to disasters. “The more connected a community is before a disaster, the better they respond and recover. It’s the single most important protective measure,” Ms Dawson said. Given private corporations deliver many of the large city systems in Sydney, the project is also seeking to work with 100 businesses on how they manage shocks and stresses, she said. Read more on Sydney's resilient city strategy 
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[post_title] => New framework guides governments on risks [post_excerpt] => Heatwaves pose the greatest threat to Sydney, followed by storms and bushfires, according to an international benchmark of cities’ capacity to handle shocks and stresses. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-framework-guides-governments-on-risks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-12 10:56:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:56:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30620 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30554 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-06-08 08:32:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-07 22:32:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30556" align="aligncenter" width="635"] PPPs have the best chance of success when risk is 'properly and robustly quantified.'[/caption] As Australian governments and private enterprise partners on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure pipeline, it’s incumbent we reduce the likelihood of cost overruns, writes Paul Sullivan. Australia is going through a major construction boom, undertaking projects across every state and territory to accommodate our growing population and futureproof our cities. Melbourne and Sydney metros, the Westgate Tunnel, the Brisbane Cross River Rail, the Roe 8 project in Western Australia, school precinct developments across the eastern seaboard - the list is extensive. [caption id="attachment_30568" align="alignright" width="153"] Paul Sullivan[/caption] Such large scale, transformative projects are often delivered through public-private partnerships (PPPs), which are considered a preferred procurement method for high value, high risk (HVHR) projects because of the distribution of risk across parties. But are we quantifying risk as we should? And what are the consequences for the funding and delivery of major projects? There are cases where PPPs have gone wrong and government can be left picking the pieces at the taxpayer’s expense, particularly where running costs are involved. A major principle of the PPP risk-sharing is that contingency funds can be reduced, and if an unknown cost does eventuate, the project proponents pay only the value of that cost.  This is in contrast to conventional procurement methods - such as competitive tender, construction management and shared saving contracts - where a head contractor carries most of the risk and requires a larger contingency fund. On a level playing field, the end turnout cost of a project delivered via a partnership agreement should be less than if delivered through conventional procurement methods. PPPs, like all projects, have the best chance of success when risk is properly and robustly quantified and when ownership is taken on by the party best equipped to manage the risk. However, the question of risk is often the source of cost blow-outs, project delays and public perceptions of loss of taxpayer money going to private contractors. How can this be mitigated?

Quantify all risks

Departments of treasury and finance factor in known knowns - risks that can be quantified in terms of their likelihood and potential consequence. But they only quantify, to some extent, the known unknowns, and they do not quantify at all the unknown unknowns. A known unknown risk could be adverse ground conditions, where the potential hazard can be identified, but there is no basis upon which to estimate the likelihood of the event occurring or the impact on the costs of the project if it did. Further investigation can change a known unknown to a known known, and then enable us to quantify the risk. An unknown unknown risk could be unexpected weather patterns or finding archaeological relics when excavating a site; these are risks that cannot be reasonably identified or costed.  The private sector should not be saddled by these risks, and it’s similarly unpalatable for government to be so. This is where the perception that PPPs “always blow their budgets” comes from.   For unknown unknowns, an evaluation of likelihood and consequence should be attempted, utilising benchmarking from similar works on previous projects, and the knowledge of highly experienced people. In the event of the contingent funds not being used, the reserve is retained by the financier or project proponents and does not convert to profit.  If all project proponents sought to quantify risk more fully, then this could be shared and costed more appropriately across parties in HVHR projects. A lenders technical advisory role consultant can provide an “additional set of eyes” to give confidence in the project budget.  

Allocate risk to most appropriate

Best practice risk management allocates risks to the party best able to manage it, and therefore at the least cost to the project.  But in practice, the risk often gets pushed down to the contractor and sub-contractors, who in turn include a higher contingency sum in their contracts. One reason why small contractors go out of business so often is that they’re not equipped to understand or deal with the risk when things turn pear shaped. Project proponents must ensure they are engaging suitably qualified contractors, with the wherewithal to handle the works being let, and ensure that the various risks are “owned” by the party most equipped to deal with that risk.

Thorough analysis

Too many project proponents don’t have a full enough understanding of probabilistic risk analysis and its application. While a complex process, it is worth sourcing appropriate experts to bring a fuller understanding of the risks and opportunities, throughout the life of the project. Since PPPs are a partnership between government and private enterprise, it’s up to project proponents to engage qualified specialists to facilitate risk and opportunity workshops. Professional risk workshops are the best way to counter inherent optimism bias which, if left unchecked, can lead to an overestimation of benefits. In large infrastructure projects, this can manifest as overly optimistic cost estimating, under-estimated risk consideration and a higher contingency sum. The $554 million Sydney Cross Harbour Tunnel provides an interesting example where revenue projections exceeded actual collections. This was most likely the result of optimism bias, where traffic engineers anticipated higher traffic levels, combined with government’s re-opening of certain road closures to appease public demand and causing "leakage" of traffic numbers. The failure was more about toll revenue being lower than anticipated, rather than a blow out in construction cost, but the result was the same. If all HVHR project proponents undertook probabilistic risk analysis, participated in Rrisk workshops to a greater degree, and carried the process through to project completion, the risk of large overruns would be diminished. The majority of PPPs have had good outcomes, such as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Melbourne City Link, AAMI Stadium and Ravenhall Prison. In these instances, it’s likely that the private proponents were some of the most experienced in the country and carried out risk analysis in the best and fullest manner, using suitably experienced and qualified contractors. As Australian governments and private enterprise partner to deliver a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project pipeline, it’s incumbent on all parties to ensure a procurement method that will keep risk pricing, or contingency funding, to a minimum and reduce the likelihood of cost overruns. PPPs are best suited to HVHR projects which are of such a magnitude that the only way to deliver them is with partnership funding. For this model to work effectively, we need to focus on appropriately defining, quantifying, allocating and costing risk.
Paul Sullivan is state director at WT Partnership, a project and cost management advisory.
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[post_title] => Are we getting risk wrong in public-private partnerships? [post_excerpt] => As Australian governments and private enterprise partners on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure pipeline, it’s incumbent we reduce the likelihood of cost overruns, writes Paul Sullivan. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => are-we-getting-risk-wrong-in-public-private-partnerships [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-08 09:12:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:12:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30554 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30581 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-05 10:15:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-05 00:15:08 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30584" align="aligncenter" width="589"] 'Forward thinking' councils are engaging in data-backed risk profiling, analysis says.[/caption] Infrastructure, financial sustainability and health and safety are the greatest risks for local government, according to a new analysis that finds many councils are failing to adequately prepare. More than half of all councils are failing to execute practices to “rein in” some of their greatest risks, including human and environmental issues, according to Aon’s annual risk report on local government. According to the global professional services firm’s 2018 Local Government Risk Report, a fifth of councils have no process at all for risk profiling, with most relying on their appointed insurance broker. Risk profiles would ensure councils have a comprehensive understanding of risks within their unique risk profile, the firm says. The report said that “forward thinking” councils are engaging in data-backed risk profiling, gap analysis and developing and implementing strategies to enhance employee engagement and protect the wellbeing of workers. [caption id="attachment_30585" align="alignright" width="139"] Paul Crapper[/caption] “They measure and manage their risk appetite and test the market for the most effective coverage. Avoiding overbuying frees financial resources to employ into council programs and projects for the benefit of the community,” the report said. Aon’s analysis ranked local government in the bottom of all sectors analysed, finding only 23 per cent of councils tender for insurance and risk management. Councils that proactively manage risks and employ best-practice claims management are viewed more favourably by insurers and achieve more “financial benefit”, the report said. Paul Crapper, Aon’s head of local government, said that a fifth of councils aren’t auditing their workplace health and safety (WHS) requirements. “The big issue for a lot of councils is they have the same level of compliance requirements as other councils but may not have financial resources or people resources to adequately audit WHS on a regular basis,” Mr Crapper told Government News.

Key risks revealed

The report revealed that infrastructure remains the greatest issue for local government, followed by financial sustainability. Health and safety, cyber security and reputational issues were the next big concerns for local governments, the analysis found. [caption id="attachment_30589" align="alignnone" width="458"] Source: Aon's 2018 Local Government Risk Report [/caption] Cyber security jumped four places as a risk for councils this year, only entering the top 10 in last year’s report, while reputational concerns are being exacerbated by social media, the report said. Mr Crapper said that the introduction of mandatory reporting by the Federal Government has increased awareness among councils of the risks posed by cyber threats. “Councils are starting to understand and recognise cyber as a risk exposure they need to mitigate,” he said. Funding squeezes and rate capping, particularly in NSW and Victoria, as well as increasing ratepayer expectations have placed pressure on councils and ensured that infrastructure and financial sustainability are key risks, the report says. “Not surprisingly the unrelenting challenge to do more with less ensured that the financial challenges of infrastructure, financial sustainability and stability lead the list of risks for local government,” the report said.

Growth prompts infrastructure risk

Mr Crapper said that the rate of municipal growth is another key factor causing infrastructure to take the lead as the greatest risk for councils. “Councils going through such high levels of municipal growth struggling to keep up with delivery of all the infrastructure required for that level of growth,” he said. A “widening asset renewal gap” is also placing financial pressure on councils, as councils seek to implement new infrastructure whilst maintaining old infrastructure, the report said. The report also flagged issues relating to human resources, asset protection, funding, planning decisions and weather events as among the top 10 risks for councils. The Aon findings come as the Victorian Auditor General completes a performance audit looking at insurance risks, including whether councils are “prudently managing their insurable risks.”
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[post_title] => Councils failing to act on biggest risks: report [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure, financial sustainability and health and safety are the greatest risks for local government, according to a new analysis that finds many councils are failing to adequately prepare. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-failing-to-act-on-biggest-risks-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-08 09:13:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:13:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30581 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30559 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-06-05 09:35:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-04 23:35:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30564" align="aligncenter" width="590"] The sustainable procurement standard covers social, economic and environmental factors.[/caption] A year since the publication of a new global sustainable procurement standard, Jonathan Dutton looks at the impact on procurement and contract management in government and the corporate sector.
  • This is the first in a new monthly column for Government News, written by procurement specialist Jonathan Dutton, examining key issues in procurement at all levels of government in Australia.
While there’s been no formal research yet on the take-up in Australia of the new international standard for sustainable procurement, the ISO 20 400, anecdotal evidence suggests procurement professionals are increasingly aware of it. [caption id="attachment_30560" align="alignright" width="171"] Jonathan Dutton[/caption] Various procurement and contracting bodies in Australia have helped spread the word. Yet at two recent procurement conferences a straw-poll yielded miserable results. When audiences of more than 100 procurement professionals at each were asked if they had adopted the new standard in whole or in part, or even felt that it had directly influenced their organisation’s sustainable procurement policy, fewer than 10 per cent raised their hands. On the flipside, a 10 per cent take-up of a guidance document within a year might not yet be a cause for alarm. The clearest early benefit of ISO 20 400 might be the publicity value in persuading organisations that to do nothing in future is not an option.

Broad view of sustainability

The development of ISO 20 400 sought to collate a wide range of disparate examples of socially responsible and sustainable procurement activity into a single non-mandatory guidance document. The standard takes a wider scope for sustainable procurement beyond sustainability in its narrowest definition of environmentalism. In fact, the term sustainability now envelops social (good), economic (development) and environmental (improvement) factors.   This approach was a natural result of garnering input from 52 countries and 1,000 people who contributed over a two-year period. Australia was a key part of the process and the eclectic Sydney committee, which included NSW Government, consultants, practitioners, companies, not-for-profit organisations and professional bodies had a significant input. Subsequently, those Sydney members have championed the new standard and set up a website as a free reference. They seem to have made a difference within their spheres of influence. Critics of the new standard complain it is overlong, overreaching, overly detailed and overambitious. Champions retort it needs to cover the breadth of both practice and theory to remain relevant in future and, crucially, offer something of the how as well as the why of socially responsible and sustainable procurement. Advocates also say it must be consistent with other standards and initiatives around the world, even with the intent of potential future laws; Australia is expected to enact its own Modern Slavery Act and many expect procurement to play a lead role in this area.

Prior good practice

There are many examples of good practice in sustainable and socially responsible procurement that existed well before the new standard was formed. The Victorian Level Crossing Removal Authority’s social procurement policy is held up as an example that delivers a wide range of benefits. Key projects at Australia Post and Rio Tinto that started as supply side corporate social responsibility initiatives have subsequently delivered material business benefits. In the case of Australia Post it’s been recyclable uniforms with predestined outlets, while for Rio Tinto it was the boring of water wells in Mauritanian villages to improve health of local support workers. [caption id="attachment_30566" align="alignright" width="235"] Many organisations have adopted a form of social procurement.[/caption] Many organisations have now adopted some form of social procurement policy. Most were largely in train before the new standard was published, although drafts were widely available in the two years previous. Corporate companies have adopted supply side corporate social responsibility policies because of conviction, shareholder and staff pressure, brand positioning theory, customer preference or post-crisis after a major supply chain shock. However, how well these new policies have gained traction is not always clear. Similarly, government jurisdictions and agencies usually have sustainability policies, often influenced by government policy at federal or state level. The NSW Government is finalising its own sustainable procurement policy framework, although it is unclear how closely this might or might not be aligned to ISO 20 400. The Commonwealth procurement rules apply to federal government buyers. But they are often reflected in other jurisdictions such as state governments, public agencies and even local councils. And these are more influential in the private sector than given credit for. These were implemented in July 2015, well before the new standard was launched, although revisions to Commonwealth’s rules have been subsequently implemented – as recently as January. The Department of Finance, which administers the Commonwealth’s procurement rules, points out they are broadly consistent with the principles behind ISO 20 400 and that they “allow for the consideration of a range of social and sustainability factors when undertaking a procurement.”

Taking stock

Perhaps naively, some practitioners and analysts felt that ISO 20 400 would be a real catalyst for change, that procurement professionals might use it as a lever to drive broader and deeper sustainability initiatives – even down the length of the supply chain, the holy-grail of sustainable procurement.    Some supply chains have no choice but to clean up; their core business is driven by a vulnerable supply chain, which ironically can make it easier to change. Often it’s sparked by a visible issue or incident – such as child labour becoming evident within a high-tier supplier, or a major producer of smartphones allegedly exploiting workers. It’s not easy mapping 17 tiers down the supply chain from your local 7/11 service station back to the Ivory Coast fields where the coca-beans are picked to make certified chocolate – like Fair Trade did. But not everyone has to take on that sort of commitment or budget to improve the impact of a singular global supply chain.

Bottom-up momentum

Individuals in key procurement roles seem increasingly keen to drive their own initiatives where possible – whether they are directly or indirectly relevant for their organisations. These (sometimes almost random) initiatives fly because they are broadly consistent with stated corporate intent from the top, more than hard policy or practical strategy. And, they are difficult to deny. Indeed, many good sustainable procurement initiatives seem almost coincidental to corporate policy, rather than driven by it. The staff seem to take a lofty mandate from the boss and turn it into action. Ultimately, it appears the top-down intent of both public departments and corporates is often currently driven more by bottom-up individual employee activism than by departmental or corporate leadership. More work to do then, in order to match top-down policy with bottom-up enthusiasm. But it’s still early days; why not start by drafting your own department’s sustainable procurement policy?
Jonathan Dutton, an independent management consultant specialising on procurement, was the founding CEO of CIPS in Australia from 2004 to 2013. 
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[post_title] => Sustainable procurement: bottom-up efforts gain momentum [post_excerpt] => SPECIAL FEATURE: A year since the publication of a new global sustainable procurement standard, Jonathan Dutton looks at the impact on procurement and contract management in government and the corporate sector. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sustainable-procurement-bottom-up-efforts-gain-momentum [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-08 09:13:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:13:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30559 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30507 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 10:09:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:09:24 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30509" align="aligncenter" width="593"] Councils in NSW are starting to collaborate on management and accountability issues.[/caption] While the NSW Government legislates for local government to work together in formalised groups, a diverse band of councils has already initiated their own alliances, writes Annalisa Haskell. What a difference a punishing audit or two can make in galvanising a sector.  The need to improve local government performance, and find the means to do so, reached a new intensity in recent months, perhaps most acutely in NSW where the NSW Audit Office report has been tabled in parliament after much discussion. [caption id="attachment_28375" align="alignright" width="141"] Annalisa Haskell[/caption] In addition, as the NSW Government has embedded joint organisations into legislation there is an expectation that councils can and will work much closer together in formalised groups, on behalf of their regions. While the sector digests these latest developments, a diverse band of Australian and New Zealand councils has taken pre-emptive action to initiate their own alignments as strategic groups. The collaborations - in addition to their existing individual approaches to performance improvement - have the potential to bring significant operational change for the benefit of the whole sector.

New era of collaboration

More than 70 councils have embraced a new data window within the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program as a means to collaborate on local government management and financial accountability. While the performance measurement program has been delivering comparative data and strategic insights over the past five years, the newly introduced grouping feature creates an opportunity for councils to form clusters and work on strategies that strengthen financial, operational and management capability. This methodology could provide a creative model for a new era of cross-city, cross regional collaboration. It will also be helpful for councils to see how they perform together as they address additional cost pressures such as rate capping.

Strategic creativity

Western Australia is leading cross-city metropolitan planning with eight major metropolitan councils now in their working window, made up of City of Cockburn, City of Canning, City of Joondalup, City of Swan, City of Melville, City of Gosnells, City of Rockingham and City of Wanneroo. There are another 13 strategic clusters operating across NSW and New Zealand, with nine of those formed in just the last month. Among them are some standout examples. Almost all of the recently amalgamated or merged NSW councils have formed a unique cluster, made up of: Armidale Regional Council, Cumberland Council, Hilltops Council, Mid-Coast Council, Murrumbidgee Council, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Snowy Valleys Council, Georges River Council and Snowy Monaro Regional Council. It’s unlikely that recently amalgamated councils anywhere else in the world have had access to comparative data in one profile for the purpose of learning and performance improvement. Similarly, a new NSW regional cities collaboration consists of Albury City Council, Armidale Regional Council, Coffs Harbour City Council, Griffith City Council, Lismore City Council, Mid-Coast Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Tamworth Regional Council, Tweed Shire Council and Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

Plan together using data

There’s no doubt that local government service models need to evolve and it will be essential for all councils to look outside of themselves and plan together using robust data. As a result, a much broader view of the value of local government will be visible as it intersects with key levels of government and other stakeholders.
Annalisa Haskell is CEO of Local Government Professionals, NSW.
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[post_title] => Strength in numbers: councils collaborate on key issues [post_excerpt] => While the NSW Government legislates for local government to work together in formalised groups, a diverse band of councils has already initiated their own alliances, writes Annalisa Haskell. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => strength-in-numbers-councils-collaborate-on-key-issues [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-01 10:10:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:10:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30507 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30536 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 10:08:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:08:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30537" align="aligncenter" width="656"] Local governments are seeking to make their communities and services accessible.[/caption] As councils across Australia seek to make their communities more accessible for residents living with disability, advocates point to the importance of stakeholder engagement. Activities for children with autism and charging ports for electric wheelchairs are just some of the elements of disability inclusion programs being developed and implemented by local governments in Australia. In Victoria, Golden Plains Council has been running a weekly lego club to foster social and creative skills in children with autism. Mayor Helena Kirby said the initiative stemmed from council’s disability inclusion plan which sought to respond to the large proportion of children aged 10 to 19 with a disability in the area. “Children with autism often do not feel comfortable in mainstream activities and recreational programs and as such are at risk of social isolation, so activities such as Let’s Go, Lego provide a great opportunity for autistic children,” she said. Brisbane City Council is another council working on disability inclusion, having spent more than $150 million on its plan that includes programs such as a braille trail, all-abilities playgrounds and a wheelchair accessible bus fleet.   Similarly, Victoria's Maroondah Council is offering charging ports to help people with electric scooters and wheelchairs get outside and rest assured their wheelchair battery won’t run out.

Consultation key, say advocates

Samantha French, senior policy officer at People With Disability, says it’s vital that those with a disability, not just advisory groups, are “involved from the very beginning” in disability inclusion and access plans. She suggests that councils go beyond mere “compliance” and look holistically at ways to promise access and inclusion. “What is really needed is for council to bring people in from the community and ask what it is that they need,” she said.
“Local governments have the potential to make the most impact on people with disability.”
Ms French said that some of the most successful inclusion and access plans she has seen have come from councils who hired members of the community with disability. David O’Loughlin, president of the Australian Local Government Association, agrees that consultation with residents who have a lived experience of disability, as well as other stakeholders, is the blueprint to a successful access and inclusion plan. [caption id="attachment_30538" align="alignright" width="287"] Golden Plains Council has been running a lego club for children with autism[/caption] He says it’s crucial that councils identify the needs of individual communities by consulting through advisory groups at all levels of planning. “People need to stretch their thinking and listen to the needs of the community. Councils will find there’s an incredible diversity of actions they can take that will make people’s lives easier,” Cr O’Loughlin tells Government News. Consulting with service clubs, community groups and community development officers are all useful ways of engaging with those living with a disability in the community, he said.  The ALGA’s 2016 Disability Inclusion Planning Guide for Local Government lists “active citizenship,” or the promotion of participation by those with a disability in council decision making, as a key principle of an inclusive council. Late last year the Institute for Public Policy and Governance released a guide on how local governments can increase the social and economic participation of people with a disability, noting the importance of engaging with members of the community with disability. Clr O’Loughlin said that prioritising different elements of disability inclusion programs based on community demand is critical, saying programs should be “a direct response to the demand profile” in an area.

‘Woven into everything’

Ms French also pointed to the need for disability access and inclusion policies to be integrated into all levels of councils’ decision making, including the procurement process. “There’s no trigger to make sure decisions are mindful of the importance of accessibility. It needs to be woven into everything we’re doing, including our procurement practices and the decisions around who we contract,” she said. All council staff should be held accountable to meet the objectives of disability inclusion and access plans, Ms French said. “When senior management have a performance review, there needs to be accountability for what their section has done to improve accessibility,” she said. “Accountability needs to be built within the council itself.” The ALGA’s Disability Inclusion Guide also notes “allocating responsibility” to support a “whole-of-council” approach as key to disability inclusion.

Case study: Barossa seeks input

The Barossa Valley is one such council that has sought to integrate disability action and inclusion into all areas of council decision making. Under its Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, which opened for public consultation in April, the council has vowed to ensure that all elements of council planning and decision making are guided by principles of access and inclusion.  The action plan, which has been overseen by an advisory group, takes a “whole-of-council” approach, pledging to make mainstream public facilities and services universally accessible to residents and visitors with disability.
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[post_title] => Consultation key to accessible communities, say disability advocates [post_excerpt] => As councils across Australia seek to make their communities more accessible for residents living with disability, advocates point to the importance of stakeholder engagement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => consultation-key-to-accessible-communities-say-disability-advocates [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-05 10:33:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-05 00:33:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30536 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30515 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 09:35:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-31 23:35:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30519" align="aligncenter" width="570"] The project drew together government agencies and various community groups.[/caption] A partnership between state and local governments, water utilities, land management and community groups has enabled the most efficient delivery of a large urban waterway project, officials say. Less than a decade ago, Bannister Creek in Perth was a “no-go” area for locals because of significant antisocial behaviour in and around the area. Many houses along the creek screened and fenced it off from view. But today the site is a favourite walk for seniors living in the local aged care facility and among residents walking or excising in the area’s open public space. Houses have been installing see-through screens and back-garden patios to take in the view. Bannister Creek is among the areas that have been rejuvenated in Perth’s Urban Waterways Renewal project - an $8.5 million initiative involving all three levers of government and numerous state agencies and community groups. The project, which successfully engaged 1,600 community volunteers,  retrofitted 11 sections of the urban draining systems within the Canning River catchments in the Perth metropolitan area. Since it began in 2007 the project has restored 3.3 kilometres of traditional urban drainage into living streams, installed more than 424,000 plants, and removed 18 hectares of weeds and 4,600 cubic metres of sediment and rubbish.    But in addition to the water and environmental benefits the project has delivered social, recreational and cultural benefits, including improved public amenity. In a paper presented at a recent international conference on water sensitive urban design, three officials involved in the initiative say it has provided a “blueprint” for future project delivery. “The project has inspired new ways of doing things and is a model that other organisations and governments can follow,” according to Agni Bhandari from the state’s Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Brett Kuhlmann from South Eastern Regional Centre for Urban Landcare and Scott Davie from the Water Corporation. “A long-term benefit is in the way people are viewing and caring for these sites and seeing what is possible for urban waterways and draining,” they say.

Various stakeholders involved

The project was initiated after the Swan Canning River system was identified as a “hot spot” in 2006 because of its high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. A funding injection of $4 million from the Commonwealth was matched by the state and three local governments (the cities of Gosnells, Armadale and Canning). In addition to local government, the project involved SERCUL, the water and biodiversity departments and the Water Corporation. “The project drew together local landcare groups, state and local government agencies and, importantly, a volunteer army. More than 1,600 volunteers took part in the project during its lifespan, contributing 6,900 hours of work worth around $200,000,” the officials say. The project had four main aims: healthy water, healthy habitats, educated communities and recreation and wellbeing.

Navigating different agendas

The officials note that as water resources and environmental assets cross departmental boundaries there were many stakeholders involved, each with different interests and often conflicting directives, which could delay progress.
“The project team gathered each of the stakeholders together to collectively identify the opportunities, constraints and to overcome the barriers. The project adopted a multidisciplinary approach to involve internal and external stakeholders to enable a common vision.”
The team also organised five workshops and 17 site tours and successfully engaged eight community groups and 10 schools in the project.

Environmental, social benefits    

The project incorporated a monitoring and evaluation program, which shows the measures taken have contributed to improved water quality, reduced nutrient load, prevention of fish kills and reduced flood risk. It also contributed to reduced heat island effects and improved urban amenity. The officials cite a study that found the project also contributed to a boost in house values in the neighbourhoods around the retrofitted systems. At Bannister Creek, the median home within 200 meters of the restoration site increased in value by $17,000 to $26,000. The project also increased stakeholders’ understanding and knowledge of local hydrology and water technologies, they say.  

‘Leading example’ of project delivery

The officials conclude that the project is a “leading example” of involving partnerships between government agencies, landcare, community groups, schools and volunteers “to achieve outstanding on-ground water management and environmental outcomes.” Given that irregular and insufficient funding is often a key issue in the planning and management of major projects, the officials recommend that relevant agencies and community stakeholders “provide shared ongoing commitments and contribution”. “Ongoing contribution of even a small amount of in-kind support or resources from various agencies and stakeholders can become a significant contribution to expand such projects,” they say.
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[post_title] => New 'blueprint' for major project delivery [post_excerpt] => A partnership between state and local governments, water utilities, land management and community groups has enabled the most efficient delivery of a large urban waterway project, officials say. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-blueprint-for-major-project-delivery [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-01 10:10:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:10:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30515 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30867 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 10:03:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:03:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30868" align="aligncenter" width="735"] The data skills shortage is common across state and local government professionals, a peak says.[/caption] As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public sector, local government professionals say they need investment in professional development. The NSW Government has announced plans to release a new set of online resources on how to find and use data after a survey of 1,000 public servants by Digital NSW found 95 per cent said they would benefit from learning more about data in their role. Dawn Rutledge, acting government chief information, said there was an overwhelming response from those surveyed that the best way to access tools to support data capability is through e-learning. More than half of the survey’s respondents, who came from departments across NSW, provided detailed responses about their data challenges and nominated finding and using data to inform decision making as among their key issues.  [caption id="attachment_30874" align="alignright" width="143"] Dawn Routledge[/caption] Ms Rutledge said the survey aimed to establish a detailed picture of what the government should “do next” and where it should focus resources to improve skills in the public service. “The respondents talked about increasing their skills in using data, increased access to data experts, building a community to share knowledge and experience, and access to tools and resources to help them use data more effectively in their work,” she said. According to Annalisa Haskell, chief executive of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW, local government is equally in need of support.  “It’s the critical thinking skills and ability to do deduction, what the data is actually telling us, that’s the skill I see is missing,” she told Government News. It’s hard because those skills come about through practice in using data and assessing what it tells us. That’s the issue we have. We have a lot of data and local government is providing significant reports but it is more limited in what it is saying about intelligence and insight.”

NSW budget fails to upskill

Ms Haskell said NSW Government needs to help to build the generalised management and analysis skills “for the future” among local government professionals.   While the state’s budget provided funding for qualifications, there was no funding for “business management and information integration skills,” she said. “Where is the funding for the hugely important skill development we need to help staff understand areas like management information and analysis? If the State Government is really committed to helping local government understand their data it could help councils with data competence,” she said. Ms Haskell, who runs the Australasian Local Government Performance Excellence Program, a voluntary council benchmarking program, said she had discussed the need for state and local government to partner on improving data capability. “State and local government need to work together much more closely. I wish to help get state and local governments working together on data issue and am working to do this so we can learn from each other and assist better community outcomes,” she said.
Don't miss our Operational Report: Data for an in-depth look at how governments are using data for intelligence and improved service delivery. Out in next Tuesday's Government News newsletter. 
[post_title] => Data skills shortage is common across state and local government: peak [post_excerpt] => As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public service, local government professionals say they also need investment in professional development. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => data-skills-shortage-is-common-across-state-and-local-government-peak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 14:47:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 04:47:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30867 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 538 [max_num_pages] => 39 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => 1 [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => fe452958ec50ce3c67e8889625a72d1b [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

Management