The Program is a contemporary industry-led system of council performance measurement that has been delivering results for participating councils for four years. 135 councils across New Zealand and Australia are now participating in this first ever cross country benchmarking collaboration which is earning recognition overseas.

The Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program (previously the Local Government Operational and Management Effectiveness Programme) has been run by SOLGM's sister organisation, Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW (LG Professionals, NSW) with PwC, Sydney in Australia since 2013, initially for councils in NSW only. From 2015, SOLGM provided New Zealand councils with the opportunity to join the Program. 26 New Zealand councils joined in the first year and 30 councils took part in 2016.

Highlights from the 2016 New Zealand council survey data can be viewed here.

New councils are now being accepted for the Program's 2017 survey covering the 2016/17 financial year. Contact Jessica.Hill@solgm.org.nz for a Program Prospectus and a Contract Request Form.

About the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program

What is the Program?

The Program is made up of an annual survey that collects information from over 100 councils and then compares and benchmarks these via a series of metrics delivered in a comprehensive Report. In addition, there is a Council Comparative Analysis Tool that assists councils to interactively compare and analyse the Report's results across data collected from all councils that participate in the Program.

What does the Program cover?

The Program measures performance excellence and provides the leaders of councils strategic and operational insights into:

  • Corporate Leadership
  • Operations Management
  • Workforce Management
  • Finance Management
  • Risk Management
  • Asset Management
  • Service Delivery

Some of the questions answered as a result of the Report are:

  • What is the level of corporate development, strategic planning and accountability in your council?
  • What is the shape of your council meetings and how effective are they?
  • Are decisions being made at the right level?
  • What quality of policy support do you have?
  • How effective and efficient is your finance function?
  • Is your council being supported with enough analysis?
  • What impact does your budgeting process have?
  • How effective is your rates collection and is there an impact on your cash flow?
  • Is your operational planning and project management approach effective?
  • How well are you managing your risk and supplier risk?
  • How productive is your internal audit process for your size?
  • What shape is your level of systems investment?
  • Do you have a visible customer service focus in the organisation?
  • What is the generational profile of your workforce and what is this showing you about your workforce capacity?
  • Are your leave liabilities able to be more successfully managed?
  • What are the indicators of workforce productivity telling you?
  • What is the span of control and relative level of focus you have on management?
  • What is the right level of training investment for optimal return?
  • How robust is your workforce plan?

What are the key dates?

February - May --- Councils register for the Program
July - September --- Online collection platform is open
August - September --- Data submission feedback pack and final data amendments
September --- Data amendments final and survey closes
October - November --- PwC analysis and reporting

Who can I contact with questions?

Contact Jessica Hill – Senior Advisor directly regarding overall Program information and pricing. Email Jessica at Jessica.Hill@solgm.org.nz or call her on 04 978 1289.

To contact PwC about the technical details of the survey process, e-mail Sarah Gibson – Associate Director on localgovt.insights@au.pwc.com.

How can a Council participate in the Program?

If your council wishes to participate in the Program, please email Jessica Hill Jessica.Hill@solgm.org.nz for more information.

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About the Program Analysis Tool

What data will be in the Analysis Tool?

A range of survey metrics from councils' survey results will be available. The ability to sub-segment means councils can look at results at a deeper level – across clusters of councils who ‘look more like you’/ have your characteristics. For added confidentiality, once the filtering process is applied, the Analysis Tool will only display results for five or more de-identified councils.

Who can access the Analysis Tool?

Councils can nominate five users in the Application Form who can access the Analysis Tool in their council.

How do I access the Analysis Tool?

It will be available through a secure online portal and multiple users (up to five) can access it at the same time. It is very easy and users will be fully trained.

How long will the data in the Analysis Tool remain available?

All participating councils will have access to the current Survey metrics for one year until it is refreshed with the next survey data.

Can councils print information from the Analysis Tool or export the visual elements such as graphs and charts?

Yes, councils can access, export and print all the relevant elements in the Analysis Tool making this very useful for sharing information in both internal and external communications.

What are councils' responsibilities in using the Analysis Tool?

Councils can use the Analysis Tool as much or as little as they like for their own analysis and all we ask is that it is treated respectfully.

Will the information in the Analysis Tool be confidential?

Survey information will be completely confidential and no council names will be displayed (i.e. they will be de-identified).

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The Program and your council

Will council Reports be confidential?

Yes, Reports will be completely confidential. They will not be shared nor visible to anyone other than the council recipient and the specific PwC Analyst/s.

Only the aggregated results will be visible to SOLGM and LG Professionals, NSW and all council survey participants. Each council will have to agree to the data use terms and conditions directly with PwC upon provision of the data into the survey portal. These will state that councils will consent to the use of their own data by PwC Analytics for the specific purposes of generating findings for the survey participant, and that PwC can share only the aggregate sample results to enrich other PwC reports (similar to the way PwC will be utilising other aggregated PwC study findings across their global networks for the enhancement of the Report and Survey).

Can councils distribute their Report?

Yes, at each Council's discretion. There are clauses that councils will need to ensure are visible when presenting that data that explains the context in respect to how recipients should interpret the findings they are reading.

What is the commitment required of councils and what level of work is required?

The process does require councils to commit resource/s and project manage implementation well. They may need support from IT to assist with an extract from payroll and HR systems as well as support from Finance and HR, especially if records are manual. In New Zealand, small councils have managed to do this successfully – as has the largest. We expect that councils should not need to spend more than two weeks of one full time staff member the first time they do this.

There is a reasonable amount of work in this Survey for councils but the benefits are significant so we strongly believe it is worth the investment in time. PwC will provide significant support and Australian practitioners will be on hand should additional support be needed. Council staff will be fully trained in what is required and they will be well supported.

Upon agreeing to participate, councils are obligated to do everything they can to ensure that their responsibilities under the Program are fulfilled to ensure the success for all participants.

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Background on the Program

How was the Survey in the Program designed?

The Program was created from a series of consultations in NSW where there was an initial meeting with a group of council practitioners (LG Professionals, NSW members) back in 2013 to identify and outline the key areas of interest. LG Professionals, NSW piloted with 15 councils a subset of the survey questions and that pilot was very successful. The content was reviewed again and confirmed with its focus refined to be on purely operational and management areas. A technical sub group was formed and LG Professionals, NSW proposed the final areas for research with input from this group.

In New Zealand, SOLGM arranged for a technical working group, comprising SOLGM members including Chief Executives, to review the question set and adaptations were made for the local environment.

Who is providing this Program?

LG Professionals, NSW is providing the service to all New Zealand and Australian councils with PwC Sydney. There will be a contract for your Council’s commitment with LG Professionals, NSW and PwC as all three parties have responsibilities in this process. This contract is to ensure that the project parties are clear on their roles and understand what is happening and will cover:

  • Principles of the service being provided
  • Payment terms
  • Best endeavours requirement on all parties
  • Use and ownership of the data
  • If the Program does not begin or fails to be fulfilled

What is the nature of the relationships between SOLGM NZ, LG Professionals, NSW and PwC in regards to this Program?

LG Professionals, NSW and PwC worked together originally to develop this for NSW councils. SOLGM has worked to provide input and support in making sure this Program is relevant for New Zealand councils and will be the point of contact in support of developing this into a Trans-Tasman, as well as a New Zealand specific Program. SOLGM is committed to support the implementation process with councils on behalf of LG Professionals, NSW. SOLGM, in its role as a promoter and supporter of professional excellence in the sector, will ensure that the process for councils is as easy as possible.

Council's direct contractual relationship for the delivery of the Program is with both LG Professionals, NSW and PwC as service providers.

The relationships are collaborative and reflect the initial creation of the project in Sydney whereby both LG Professionals, NSW and PwC worked together voluntarily to ensure that they had a viable Program of work before rolling it out.

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Should my council participate in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program and CouncilMARK™?

Yes. SOLGM and LGNZ agree that councils are well served by participating in both the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program and LGNZ’s Local Government Excellence Programme (CouncilMARK™). The Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program is operational and internally focused while LGNZ’s Programme is strategic and externally focused.

CouncilMARK™ is a measure for better community value and New Zealand’s local government excellence programme. The CouncilMARK™ programme is designed to improve the public's knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the service and value they provide to all New Zealanders. The programme incorporates an independent assessment system that assesses how councils are performing and the work they're undertaking to grow the value they deliver. Councils receive an overall performance rating from a team of independent assessors and commentary on their performance.

The four priorities areas for CouncilMARK™ are:

  • excellence in governance, leadership and strategy;
  • excellence and transparency in financial decision-making;
  • excellence of service delivery and asset management; and
  • strong engagement with the public and businesses.

The programme encourages a culture of continuous improvement and assists councils to further engage with their communities on the issues that matter locally. Council ratings can be viewed here.

Councils participating in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program in 2017