Last year 26 Councils signed up to be part of the Management Effectiveness Programme which comparatively benchmarks management performance across five key operational areas. Those councils took part in Survey 3 (covering the 2014/15 financial year) and will receive their draft Reports shortly.

This was the first time the Programme had been run in New Zealand - over 80 councils in NSW had participated in Surveys 1 and 2. These are offered by our sister organisation, LG Professionals Australia NSW - they run the Programme with PwC, Sydney. They have just opened registrations for Surveys 4-6 (covering financial years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18) and we're in the process of sending information out to all councils about the benefits of joining including:

- It has been running successfully in NSW for three years and LGProfessionals will be launching the Programme in a second Australian state, Western Australia, this year so the next Survey 4 (2015/16 financial year) will have an even wider data set.

- This year there will be a longer lead in time prior to the data collection process so councils will have more time to prepare. As well we can connect councils new to the Programme with others that have already been through the process.

- We expect the Programme to continue to grow and LGProfessionals will offer participants input into the future shape and scope of the Programme as it evolves and expands.

- The cost is less than last year and for councils that take advantage of the Early Bird discount available till 30 April, there can be significant cost savings. As well, the more New Zealand councils that join the Programme, not only will there be an expanded data set but also, if we achieve a critical participation threshold, we can provide some substantial savings to everyone.

- The Programme complements LGNZ's Excellence Programme to the extent that councils wanting to be successful in the LGNZ programme should have access to the type of information provided in the Management Effectiveness Programme. SOLGM and LGNZ will be recommending enrolment in both programmes.

More information on the Programme is in our website here.

In order to better understand the impact of legal requirements and best practice issues SOLGM conducted a survey of long term plan experiences late in 2015. As most of you will be aware the long term plan is created by individual councils as the strategic view of their community over a ten year period. The plan is reviewed every three years to meet legislation requirements under the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2014.

Our Report of the findings of this survey - Fit for Purpose illustrates a positive long term plan experience. 95% respondents were positive about the success of the 2015-25 long term plan process. The majority of survey respondents found amendments to the Local Government Act in 2014 useful. However when asked whether further changes to local government legislation were required respondents responded negatively with one saying, “It would be good to have a rest from reform that has no clear benefits.”

The full Report is available in our LGSectorGoodToolkit website here (open to staff of councils that are Sector Good subscribers). Others can email to request a copy.

We're really pleased with the valuable feedback we've received on our 2016 Wall Chart mailed out in late January, which lists all our currently scheduled events through to the end of 2016. An electronic copy can be downloaded here and the feedback survey is still open here.

Registrations are open for all our events right through to August in our Event Calendar here. The next ones to run are:

The final of the four Health and Safety Roadshow trainings is being held in Dunedin on 1 March. Feedback from attendees at the other three trainings has been very positive so this event is highly recommended.

Our annual and very popular Strategic Finance Forum in on 7 & 8 March in Wellington.

We have a two day Procurement training run by Frank Aldridge on 29 & 30 of March in Wellington.

Our Gala Dinner is on 14 April and our Chief Executives Forum and Masterclass is on 14 & 15 March, both in Wellington.

Finally SOLGM's 45 South Branch held their Wanaka Retreat earlier in the month. The branch put on a programme with a great mix of informative and engaging speakers and the band at the dinner was extraordinary. Look out for some photos from the event in the next issue of LGMagazine.