Media release - Local Government backs auditor-general’s report

1 February 2018

Local Government New South Wales welcomes the Auditor-General’s backing of the sector’s calls for the Office of Local Government (OLG) to introduce more transparent and meaningful performance reporting.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the sector had been calling for a better reporting system for more than five years – and was still looking forward to the NSW Government’s response to an April 2016 IPART report which examined the reporting and compliance burdens on local government.

“I welcome calls for more transparency in local government,” Cr Scott said.

“We look forward to working with the OLG to improve reporting to local communities.

“Councils are legally required to use the OLG’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (IPR). The Auditor General said OLG’s framework focused on outputs while remaining silent on aspects “fundamental to transparent reporting on service delivery”.  

“The Auditor-General has recommended the OLG develop a more transparent system that focuses on outcomes for residents and ratepayers and we welcome this support for our calls for a better system,” Cr Scott said.

“I welcome the fact that a number of councils, including Tweed Shire, Shellharbour, Liverpool City, Dungog, Eurobodalla and Albury City, are singled out as ‘better practice’ examples.

LGNSW and member councils have been working together to promote the importance of data and reporting.

Clr Scott said that councils strongly support being able to better inform the community about their good work.

“The 2012 audit of the OLG found the public reporting system required of councils did not include adequate information to judge council performance, and although OLG commenced a review of the Framework in 2013 it was deferred, with revised guidelines due last year.

“This report from the Auditor General is a timely reminder to the Government that if they are genuine about council transparency and accountability to ratepayers they need to get cracking to work with the sector on new guidelines and a response to the IPART inquiry.”

Cr Scott said the state’s 128 councils provide a wide range of services under 67 Acts, administered by 27 different NSW Government agencies, so moves to consolidate and coordinate the reporting system were well overdue.

“LGNSW will continue to work closely with the Auditor General to improve approaches to comparative reporting, which currently don’t adequately acknowledge that councils need to tailor their service types, level and mix to the needs of their local communities.

“As the Audit Report says, the current output-focused approach risks ‘unjustified and adverse interpretations of performance’ – an issue that arises regularly in debates over the financial sustainability of individual councils.

“LGNSW urges the Government and the OLG to accept the Auditor General’s recommendations that they adopt a partnership approach to the development of a better reporting system, and that they consolidate the raft of reporting requirements.

“I also call upon the Government to remove the secrecy provisions so the Auditor General can share her draft findings, so the entire sector can work together to build a smart reporting system that is able to clearly demonstrate when councils are efficiently delivering the outcomes their communities want and need.”

 

Media Enquiries

LGNSW President, Cr Linda Scott: 0408 256 405
Media Toni Allan: 0412 774 441