Monday, November 2, 2009

Questions: ATA's Structure for Auckland Council...

Good to see something from ATA that's more substantial than a suggestion we need a competition to design a SuperCity logo....

There is a lot to digest in this 30 page document which covers:
  • draft organisation change;
  • draft scope of workforce change (?!);
  • draft protocols and processes....
I've skimmed it, and what follows is my take about the bits that jump out, plus a few questions that beg to be asked along the way. I understand that submissions from Auckland's Councils are expected before 24th November. First - the immediate questions, then the points that arise, and throughout a few scenario thoughts....

Q1: When will Auckland Council (AC) - the organisation - actually start? It appears from this document that the new Auckland Council will be up and running well before the election on October 30th 2010. This is probably not a surprise. So. When?

Q2: What other CCOs (other than Watercare, Transport Agency, Waterfront Agency), are being proposed?

Q3: Where does the policy and management around stormwater go (document is silent)?

Q4: What date does ATA think the Auckland Council service delivery restructure - assumed to happen sometime after 1 November - will be completed?

Q5: The document states: "...the Auckland Council will not simply replicate the current practices...within existing councils". How does that square with another statement: "...it is likely that .... the Auckland council will rely mainly on current council systems and processes..." ?

Q6: What additional CCO's does ATA consider would be appropriate for Auckland, and has it sought a government mandate to implement those new CCO's?

Q7: Where is it proposed to relocate the Auckland Transport Agency? Will Watercare remain located where it is? What about the Waterfront Agency? Is ATA interested in ensuring there is good communication and dialogue between Auckland Council and its CCO's, or is it keen to put as much distance - control-wise and every-other-wise - between Auckland Council and the CCO's it is being set up to govern?
Draft Organisation Change
(1) Interesting that it is proposed that "AC's Interim Chief Executive" will have direct control over: communications; human resources; risk (undefined) and emergency management. These functions will not be reported to a General Manager. The document states: "post-transition it is expected these arrangements would be reviewed..."

(2) Probably the most revealing.... "while preliminary planning is underway, it is likely that upon establishment, the Auckland council will rely mainly on current council systems and processes..." So. The SuperCity restructure is really about governance restructure, and not about service delivery restructure. Thought so. But here it is in writing.

(3) The reason or excuse for (2) has already been publicly stated and that is that service delivery should be "seamless after 1 November". Wow. So it's change - but no change... It's change to governance, but no change to service delivery... The document goes on to state: "... service delivery will change following the development and adoption of consistent and integrated service strategy and progressive integration of systems...". All that some time after 1 November 2010. No date given.

(4) A bouquet though .... at page 9 and 10 is set out the planning role of Auckland Council in regard to the roles and responsibilities of the Local Boards (or community Councils).


Scenario Thought 1: North Shore's sewer management
How will this work under SuperCity? The structure has a "Manager of Infrastructure and Utilities" under the "Chief Operating Officer", so I guess that's where councillors might get quarterly reports about overflows at North Shore pump stations - from Watercare. I say: might. Then there is the strategy division under the "Chief Planning Officer", who has a "Manager Regional and Local Planning". Nowhere is there a "Manager Water and Wastewater". Either under "Planning" or "Operations". And under "Chief Finance Officer" there is "Manager Local Board Services". Would that person be responsible for ensuring Local Board concerns about regular dry-weather overflows, or wet weather overflows, were dealt with? And - in terms of setting strategic priorities for Watercare in relation to network management - where would that sit in the proposed structure?



Draft Scope of Workforce Change
5) The Draft Scope of Workforce Change is an interesting section, which deals partly with systems and also with staff. It notes at the outset that: "... the integration of the IT and other systems and processes which support local government activities will take time..." (Probably the understatement of the century that one - and one of the reasons why wholesale abolition was always an irresponsible option), and interestingly that: "...government policy decisions are needed, regarding ATA's mandate in dealing with existing or the creation of new council controlled organisations...".

6) The discussion document makes a strong disinction between services "where there are systems constraints", and services where there are none. Basically, the document suggests that services that are easy to change, should be changed before 1 November. These include: "strategy; policy and planning; Maori relations; HR; Communications;..." etc. That leaves services that depend on systems services like: call centres; information systems; planning; consenting; rating and payment; and - while it does not explicitly say so - this must include water, wastewater and transport infrastructure - which (I know) are heavily tied into very explicit computer information systems. Interestingly, the document notes that: "...particular priority will be given to systems changes required for the separation of transport functions and the integration of water and wastewater services..." (NB: No mention of stormwater.)

7) The document indicates that ATA "does not intend generally" to review staff numbers or roles, "...whose jobs are specific to particular operational work in .... social housing; local community development and funding; youth,safety and other community programmes... or in infrastructural services such as stormwater, transport and water services..." It notes though, that: "where this work is located may change..."

8) However the document notes: "staff whose primary functions relate to strategy, policy and planning are likely to be involved in significant change as these functions will generally be centralised..." So that's a change. An expected change.


Scenario Thought 2: Management of Transport
How will this work under SuperCity? A simple change in this term of ARC is illustrative. Last term, the ARC's Transport Policy Committee dealt with ARTA. It did the Statement of Intent, Administrative Budget, Annual Plan and Priorities, and it received the Quarterly and Annual Reports, and it had ARTA into committee when matters of public interest arose. This term it's been different. Why? Because it was decided at start of this term, that Finance Committee would deal with CCOs - SOIs, Reporting, Budgets, Board Appointments etc - and it has led to a disconnection between transport policy and transport delivery. That should be fixed.

The way I read the proposed structure for Auckland Council, there is separation and disconnection with bells on. For a start there is no Transport Strategy Manager. And, like Scenario 1 above for wastewater, there is poor connection between management of local board services (which I presume must include their concerns - eg about road surfacing, bus shelters, traffic lights.... the list is long), strategic transport planning, and "operations" under that hard-working "Manager Infrastructure and Utilities" - all in different divisions.

So come on guys. How about illustrating your structure with a few real scenarios. Convince yourself that it will work with some typical infrastructure plans, priorities, budgets, services, reporting, accountability. Then tell us.




Draft Protocols and Processes
9) This is a really interesting one. It notes that, under law, "...ATA is required to develop a change management plan.... for the transition of staff to Auckland Council, the Auckland Transport Agency, and the Waterfront Development Agency...". It also notes that existing Councils: "remain responsible for the employment of their staff", but that: "they are also required to cooperate with the ATA... to facilitate the re-organisation." Apparently, "ATA is not bound to consult with councils, or with employees of those organisations regarding the transition process...". The document concludes: "consultation obligations remain the responsibility of existing councils as employers of the staff...". (Talk about a poison chalice. ATA designs without needing to consult, and councils have to make it happen. Fantastic accountability there...)

10) In contrast though, as the ATA document notes: "...Watercare must plan and manage the integration of water and wastewater services..." (Which is part of the explanation that stormwater has got lost in translation) and: "the ATA must approve and oversee this process..." (So it's one process for Council staff, and quite another for Watercare. Must be who you know, rather than what you know....)

11) This section explains the rather awful, but necessary process of "mapping" where existing employees will be shown a "map" of the new, and the old, with arrows (presumably) showing the route options open to them. Job changes, location changes, criteria for consideration, and then other options for down-sizing staff ranging from: attrition; alternative appointment; voluntary redundancy and compulsory redundancy. At least this part's all pretty clear.

So that's my take on what this discussion document tells us.
Interesting, but has a bad feeling about it. Lots of unanswered questions.
Still feels a bit like a train wreck in slow-motion.



Scenario Thought 3: More, or Less, Integrated Planning?
How will this SuperCity structure deliver integrated planning and service delivery? There is an interesting diagram in the discussion document. It lists "centralised" and "distributed" services with quite a lot of overlap. More work to do on that one....

One of the main objectives of this whole destructive restructure of Auckland Governance, was to deliver integration. But I fail to see how this can happen in the proposed structure (the diagram), the apparent lack of ability to govern the CCOs, and the suggestions that the CCOs will be located some physical distance from the heart of Auckland Council (Watercare is already separately located, and the document suggests that ARTA should relocate "to make room for" centralised staff). ARC went to considerable lengths to ensure that the core of ARH and ARTA were co-located with ARC's core at Vodafone House. This was not so that Councillors could "meddle", it was to ensure very good communications and contact between left hand and right hand.

I am keenly aware that certain interests would LOVE Auckland's water and transport CCOs to be a million miles from their governors, and the key staff who will be responsible for making that governance work. And I know about internet, telephones and email.

There is a lack of public accountability and political reality in what increasingly looks like a corporate-designer institution whose bureaucracy and core functions are structurally - by design - separated from Auckland Council and Auckland Councillors.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hi there!
I think board appointments should be based on the grounds of democracy, justice and freedom.
Cheers,
Paul

Monday, November 2, 2009

Questions: ATA's Structure for Auckland Council...

Good to see something from ATA that's more substantial than a suggestion we need a competition to design a SuperCity logo....

There is a lot to digest in this 30 page document which covers:
  • draft organisation change;
  • draft scope of workforce change (?!);
  • draft protocols and processes....
I've skimmed it, and what follows is my take about the bits that jump out, plus a few questions that beg to be asked along the way. I understand that submissions from Auckland's Councils are expected before 24th November. First - the immediate questions, then the points that arise, and throughout a few scenario thoughts....

Q1: When will Auckland Council (AC) - the organisation - actually start? It appears from this document that the new Auckland Council will be up and running well before the election on October 30th 2010. This is probably not a surprise. So. When?

Q2: What other CCOs (other than Watercare, Transport Agency, Waterfront Agency), are being proposed?

Q3: Where does the policy and management around stormwater go (document is silent)?

Q4: What date does ATA think the Auckland Council service delivery restructure - assumed to happen sometime after 1 November - will be completed?

Q5: The document states: "...the Auckland Council will not simply replicate the current practices...within existing councils". How does that square with another statement: "...it is likely that .... the Auckland council will rely mainly on current council systems and processes..." ?

Q6: What additional CCO's does ATA consider would be appropriate for Auckland, and has it sought a government mandate to implement those new CCO's?

Q7: Where is it proposed to relocate the Auckland Transport Agency? Will Watercare remain located where it is? What about the Waterfront Agency? Is ATA interested in ensuring there is good communication and dialogue between Auckland Council and its CCO's, or is it keen to put as much distance - control-wise and every-other-wise - between Auckland Council and the CCO's it is being set up to govern?
Draft Organisation Change
(1) Interesting that it is proposed that "AC's Interim Chief Executive" will have direct control over: communications; human resources; risk (undefined) and emergency management. These functions will not be reported to a General Manager. The document states: "post-transition it is expected these arrangements would be reviewed..."

(2) Probably the most revealing.... "while preliminary planning is underway, it is likely that upon establishment, the Auckland council will rely mainly on current council systems and processes..." So. The SuperCity restructure is really about governance restructure, and not about service delivery restructure. Thought so. But here it is in writing.

(3) The reason or excuse for (2) has already been publicly stated and that is that service delivery should be "seamless after 1 November". Wow. So it's change - but no change... It's change to governance, but no change to service delivery... The document goes on to state: "... service delivery will change following the development and adoption of consistent and integrated service strategy and progressive integration of systems...". All that some time after 1 November 2010. No date given.

(4) A bouquet though .... at page 9 and 10 is set out the planning role of Auckland Council in regard to the roles and responsibilities of the Local Boards (or community Councils).


Scenario Thought 1: North Shore's sewer management
How will this work under SuperCity? The structure has a "Manager of Infrastructure and Utilities" under the "Chief Operating Officer", so I guess that's where councillors might get quarterly reports about overflows at North Shore pump stations - from Watercare. I say: might. Then there is the strategy division under the "Chief Planning Officer", who has a "Manager Regional and Local Planning". Nowhere is there a "Manager Water and Wastewater". Either under "Planning" or "Operations". And under "Chief Finance Officer" there is "Manager Local Board Services". Would that person be responsible for ensuring Local Board concerns about regular dry-weather overflows, or wet weather overflows, were dealt with? And - in terms of setting strategic priorities for Watercare in relation to network management - where would that sit in the proposed structure?



Draft Scope of Workforce Change
5) The Draft Scope of Workforce Change is an interesting section, which deals partly with systems and also with staff. It notes at the outset that: "... the integration of the IT and other systems and processes which support local government activities will take time..." (Probably the understatement of the century that one - and one of the reasons why wholesale abolition was always an irresponsible option), and interestingly that: "...government policy decisions are needed, regarding ATA's mandate in dealing with existing or the creation of new council controlled organisations...".

6) The discussion document makes a strong disinction between services "where there are systems constraints", and services where there are none. Basically, the document suggests that services that are easy to change, should be changed before 1 November. These include: "strategy; policy and planning; Maori relations; HR; Communications;..." etc. That leaves services that depend on systems services like: call centres; information systems; planning; consenting; rating and payment; and - while it does not explicitly say so - this must include water, wastewater and transport infrastructure - which (I know) are heavily tied into very explicit computer information systems. Interestingly, the document notes that: "...particular priority will be given to systems changes required for the separation of transport functions and the integration of water and wastewater services..." (NB: No mention of stormwater.)

7) The document indicates that ATA "does not intend generally" to review staff numbers or roles, "...whose jobs are specific to particular operational work in .... social housing; local community development and funding; youth,safety and other community programmes... or in infrastructural services such as stormwater, transport and water services..." It notes though, that: "where this work is located may change..."

8) However the document notes: "staff whose primary functions relate to strategy, policy and planning are likely to be involved in significant change as these functions will generally be centralised..." So that's a change. An expected change.


Scenario Thought 2: Management of Transport
How will this work under SuperCity? A simple change in this term of ARC is illustrative. Last term, the ARC's Transport Policy Committee dealt with ARTA. It did the Statement of Intent, Administrative Budget, Annual Plan and Priorities, and it received the Quarterly and Annual Reports, and it had ARTA into committee when matters of public interest arose. This term it's been different. Why? Because it was decided at start of this term, that Finance Committee would deal with CCOs - SOIs, Reporting, Budgets, Board Appointments etc - and it has led to a disconnection between transport policy and transport delivery. That should be fixed.

The way I read the proposed structure for Auckland Council, there is separation and disconnection with bells on. For a start there is no Transport Strategy Manager. And, like Scenario 1 above for wastewater, there is poor connection between management of local board services (which I presume must include their concerns - eg about road surfacing, bus shelters, traffic lights.... the list is long), strategic transport planning, and "operations" under that hard-working "Manager Infrastructure and Utilities" - all in different divisions.

So come on guys. How about illustrating your structure with a few real scenarios. Convince yourself that it will work with some typical infrastructure plans, priorities, budgets, services, reporting, accountability. Then tell us.




Draft Protocols and Processes
9) This is a really interesting one. It notes that, under law, "...ATA is required to develop a change management plan.... for the transition of staff to Auckland Council, the Auckland Transport Agency, and the Waterfront Development Agency...". It also notes that existing Councils: "remain responsible for the employment of their staff", but that: "they are also required to cooperate with the ATA... to facilitate the re-organisation." Apparently, "ATA is not bound to consult with councils, or with employees of those organisations regarding the transition process...". The document concludes: "consultation obligations remain the responsibility of existing councils as employers of the staff...". (Talk about a poison chalice. ATA designs without needing to consult, and councils have to make it happen. Fantastic accountability there...)

10) In contrast though, as the ATA document notes: "...Watercare must plan and manage the integration of water and wastewater services..." (Which is part of the explanation that stormwater has got lost in translation) and: "the ATA must approve and oversee this process..." (So it's one process for Council staff, and quite another for Watercare. Must be who you know, rather than what you know....)

11) This section explains the rather awful, but necessary process of "mapping" where existing employees will be shown a "map" of the new, and the old, with arrows (presumably) showing the route options open to them. Job changes, location changes, criteria for consideration, and then other options for down-sizing staff ranging from: attrition; alternative appointment; voluntary redundancy and compulsory redundancy. At least this part's all pretty clear.

So that's my take on what this discussion document tells us.
Interesting, but has a bad feeling about it. Lots of unanswered questions.
Still feels a bit like a train wreck in slow-motion.



Scenario Thought 3: More, or Less, Integrated Planning?
How will this SuperCity structure deliver integrated planning and service delivery? There is an interesting diagram in the discussion document. It lists "centralised" and "distributed" services with quite a lot of overlap. More work to do on that one....

One of the main objectives of this whole destructive restructure of Auckland Governance, was to deliver integration. But I fail to see how this can happen in the proposed structure (the diagram), the apparent lack of ability to govern the CCOs, and the suggestions that the CCOs will be located some physical distance from the heart of Auckland Council (Watercare is already separately located, and the document suggests that ARTA should relocate "to make room for" centralised staff). ARC went to considerable lengths to ensure that the core of ARH and ARTA were co-located with ARC's core at Vodafone House. This was not so that Councillors could "meddle", it was to ensure very good communications and contact between left hand and right hand.

I am keenly aware that certain interests would LOVE Auckland's water and transport CCOs to be a million miles from their governors, and the key staff who will be responsible for making that governance work. And I know about internet, telephones and email.

There is a lack of public accountability and political reality in what increasingly looks like a corporate-designer institution whose bureaucracy and core functions are structurally - by design - separated from Auckland Council and Auckland Councillors.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hi there!
I think board appointments should be based on the grounds of democracy, justice and freedom.
Cheers,
Paul