Part 2: How we reviewed local authorities' performance measures

Local government: Examples of better practice in setting local authorities' performance measures.

The 85 local authorities comprise 16 city councils, 57 district councils, and 12 regional councils (before changes in the Auckland governance arrangements take effect).

For the purposes of this discussion paper, we excluded regional councils because these councils were carrying out their own process to identify common performance measures when our work began.

We selected 15 local authorities that we considered would be reasonably representative. Each selected local authority has aspects of a reasonable performance framework for an entity of its size and nature. The selected local authorities covered a range of small to large local authorities; were metropolitan, provincial, and rural; and were from the North and South Islands. Figure 1 lists the local authorities we selected.

Figure 1
Local authorities featured in this discussion paper

Local authority Size* Metropolitan/provincial/rural** North/South Island
Carterton District Council 1 Rural North
Christchurch City Council 6 Metropolitan South
Gisborne District Council 3 Provincial North
Gore District Council 2 Rural South
Hurunui District Council 3 Rural South
Kapiti Coast District Council 4 Provincial North
Manukau City Council 6 Metropolitan North
Marlborough District Council 4 Unitary*** South
Matamata-Piako District Council 4 Provincial North
New Plymouth District Council 5 Provincial North
Queenstown Lakes District Council 2 Provincial South
Rotorua District Council 5 Provincial North
Tauranga District Council 5 Metropolitan North
Thames-Coromandel District Council 3 Provincial North
Western Bay of Plenty District Council 4 Provincial North

* We established these size groupings when we were working on local authorities' LTCCP self-assessments. Size 1 councils are typically the smallest and mostly rural councils, while size 6 councils are typically the largest regional and city councils.

** The Local Government New Zealand Council Classification, Department of Internal Affairs.

*** A territorial authority that has the responsibilities, duties, and powers of a regional council conferred on it under (a) the provisions of any Act; or (b) an Order in Council giving effect to a reorganisation scheme (see Local Government Act 2002, section 5).

Selecting the activities

We identified the common activities in the LTCCPs of the 15 local authorities, in order of prevalence, as:

  • roading (land transport);
  • community facilities (swimming pools, toilets, and parks and reserves);
  • environmental compliance/regulatory activities (building control, animal control, and liquor and food premise licensing);
  • wastewater;
  • water supply;
  • solid waste;
  • stormwater; and
  • library services.

In Part 3, we review the overall performance measures used for five of these activities. Parts 4 to 8 discuss each of the five in turn. We chose those five activities because they were broadly representative of the wider group. We reviewed three asset-based activities – roading, wastewater, and water supply. The other two activities we selected were libraries and building control, to represent community services and regulatory activities respectively.

Selecting the performance measures

Some local authorities deliver services that are not necessary in other local authorities, so naturally there will be a range of performance measures. For example, a metropolitan local authority is more likely than a small rural local authority to provide services to deal with road congestion.

To identify the commonly used and better performance measures, we took into account contextual information, including the community outcomes sought and the levels of service:

The appropriateness of selected levels of service and their associated performance measures and targets can be assessed only if the local authority sets out the rationale for its activities clearly and logically.5

We acknowledge that there will be well-developed performance measures in other local authorities' LTCCPs that we have not included in this discussion paper.

5: The Auditor-General's observations on the quality of performance reporting (June 2008), paragraph 4.8.

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