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Exchange programme trial between councils and DIA underway
Working in collaboration with Whakatane and Far North District Councils, the Department of Internal Affairs is trialling an exchange programme where staff from each spend a week learning about how the other works. It's a great development opportunity and enhances DIA’s working relationships with local government, as well as extending councils' understanding of how central government policy processes work. DIA Senior Policy Analysts Fergus Broom and Alex Kay spent a week hosting and being hosted by Neil Miller, from Far North District Council and Cashy Ball, from Whakatane District Council respectively. Pictured above are Neil and Fergus checking out the Beehive as part of the exchange. Neil and Cashy also visited SOLGM during their time in Wellington.

Participants of SOLGM’s LG Executive Leaders Programme developed the project proposal that led to the exchange programme trial. The LG Executive Leaders Programme is designed to develop the next generation of local government senior leaders and Chief Executives. Each Programme cohort proposes a project to benefit the entire sector. Applications to participate in the next 12 month Programme are now open.

Whistleblowing in the public sector
Results of a ground breaking study into the strength of whistleblowing processes in the public sector have been released. The research was unveiled at the Office of the Ombudsman by members of the research team from Victoria University of Wellington and the State Services Commission and research lead, whistleblowing expert Professor A J Brown, from Griffith University in Australia.

Alongside the research release was the New Zealand launch of the second phase of the research project, the Integrity@WERQ survey, open to all public, private and not-for-profit organisations. Local government organisations are invited to participate. Find out more here.

Council-Māori Participation Arrangements
LGNZ have released their Council-Māori Participation Arrangements document which provides information for councils and Māori when considering their arrangements to engage and work with each other. The document augments the SOLGM guide Working Shoulder to Shoulder.

First reports released for CouncilMARK™
LGNZ has announced the Independent Assessment Board's release of the first reports for the new CouncilMARK™ local government excellence programme this week. Eighteen councils have signed up, the majority of which are also participating in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program which has a total of thirty participating councils. 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.

Councils trial online building consents
Eight councils from around the country are trialing a new online service for receiving building consent applications. The pilot is not only testing the online service, but also how councils will integrate their existing systems with it.

The service is one of a number of improvements being delivered by the GoShift initiative which is working to improve the building consents process. GoShift is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Since the online service trial started in late April, 164 applications have been submitted with 148 accepted and 144 lodged and being processed at councils.

Tasman District Council and Nelson City Council are the first two to go live with the new system which has been in pilot since late April. Sharon Threadwell, Tasman District Council Building Assurance Manager, says the new system is part of on-going efforts to improve service and streamline consent processing while maintaining quality standards. “We’re here to make sure people who choose to build get safe, well-built homes and structures. At the same time, we want to provide a high level of service to the industry. This system helps us achieve both of those things.”