Part 2: The process for auditing Long-Term Council Community Plans

Local government: Results of the 2004-05 audits.

2.1 Preliminary planning and risk identification


From 2006, the Auditor-General has a new statutory duty to issue an opinion on a local authority’s draft and final Long-Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) under sections 84(4) and 94 of the Local Government Act 2002 (the 2002 Act). Councils have been preparing and publishing long-term financial plans since 1996, but the plans have not been required to be audited until this year.

Both the LTCCP and the requirement for it to be audited are unique to New Zealand. While other local government jurisdictions involve auditors in prospective information, the requirement for such an audit is a unique response to the specific legislative arrangements for New Zealand local government in a context of general empowerment.

In this article we set out our approach to the audit of LTCCPs and discuss the potential implications of breaches in the statutory adoption process for the LTCCP.

The article discusses issues arising from our work to date in the preliminary planning and risk identification stage of our audit approach. These issues have been identified through the outcome of 2 pieces of work that we undertook as preparation for the audit of LTCCPs. The first of these was a “self-assessment” exercise that we asked local authorities to complete. We discuss the key results from these self-assessments later in the article. Secondly, our auditors completed a “key controls” review to analyse the controls that councils had in place around the preparation of the LTCCP. The main findings of this work are also reported later in the article.

Our approach

We recognise that the LTCCP is a plan, and that plans, by definition, are not based on information that is certain. However, we also recognise that the LTCCP needs to represent the best knowledge of the local authority of what is intended and required for it to achieve its purpose as a basis for consultation, decision making, and subsequent accountability. Our work therefore seeks to confirm that prospective financial and other information are the best estimates of the local authority and are reasonably based on the best knowledge of future events.

Our approach1 consists of 5 main stages, shown in Figure 2.1.

Figure 2.1
Five main stages of our LTCCP audit approach

Figure showing five main stages of LTCCP audit approach.

We consider that councils’ planning systems are vital to the preparation of a robust LTCCP. We hope that by focusing on systems, rather than only on specific decisions or forecast amounts, good practice will be encouraged and that, over time, this will give communities greater confidence in the robustness and quality of the LTCCP.

The major focus in our work is on the statement of proposal (SOP) for the LTCCP, as this is the main document for public consultation. The SOP is often referred to in the sector as the “draft LTCCP”. Our interest in the final adopted LTCCP is primarily to ensure that changes made through consultation and final decisions have been appropriately reflected in the adopted LTCCP. We note that handling such changes can be demanding, where significant changes are made in response to public feedback or when other changes are made between publicly notifying the SOP and adopting the final LTCCP. It has been important that councils and auditors work closely together to carefully manage the timetable for auditing and adopting their final LTCCP.

Potential implications of breaches in the LTCCP adoption process

Given the pressure the local government sector has been under to adopt audited LTCCPs, we formed some preliminary views about the potential effect of breaches in the statutory adoption process for the LTCCP. We specifically considered the effects of a failure to include an audit report or to meet the statutory adoption date of 30 June.

Our view is that it would be preferable to adopt a day or 2 late with an audit opinion, than to adopt in time without an audit opinion, because:

  • failing to include an audit report in the SOP or adopted LTCCP would be likely to be a significant failure that would prevent a council doing any of the things set out in paragraph 2.112, including setting rates; whereas
  • failing to adopt the LTCCP by the statutory date could be considered to be more technical in nature, assuming that a council made no decisions of the nature set out in paragraph 2.112 and proceeded as quickly as reasonably practical to adopt the LTCCP.

In addition, the 2002 Act requires a council to have an LTCCP in place at all times, and to adopt the LTCCP before 1 July of the first year in which it is to take effect. While the LTCCP is not a commitment or obligation to do any specific thing, certain decisions can be taken only where they are provided for in the LTCCP.

These include:

  • decisions covered by section 97 of the 2002 Act, which include decisions to significantly alter service levels; transfer ownership or control of a strategic asset; or construct, replace, or abandon a strategic asset;
  • amendments to the financial policies set out in section 102 of the 2002 Act;
  • decisions under section 141 of the 2002 Act relating to the sale or exchange of endowment land; and
  • most significantly, the setting of rates, which under section 23 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 must be set by a council in accordance with the relevant provisions of its LTCCP and the funding impact statement.

Effect of a qualified audit opinion

The 2002 Act does not address the question of the effect of a qualified opinion on a draft or final LTCCP or on the consultation process for the SOP. In our view, a qualified audit report on a draft or final LTCCP does not, in itself, invalidate the LTCCP. While a qualified audit report on a final LTCCP is considered significant, it does not affect a local authority’s ability to make decisions or set rates.

One of the purposes of the audit requirement is to contribute to the information necessary for communities to assess the quality of the LTCCP, both at the draft stage and after adoption. The audit report forms part of the LTCCP, and we would expect readers to take account of the audit report when making submissions on the plan. A local authority may face increased risk of challenge to its consultation process on the SOP, to the rates set, or to the decisions made under the final LTCCP, depending on the nature of the qualification.

The Auditor-General does not have the power to compel a local authority to change its SOP, but a qualified opinion on a draft LTCCP may lead to changes and improvements in the final LTCCP.

Results of the self-assessment reviews

We developed a methodology to meet our reporting responsibility under the 2002 Act. This involved looking internationally for audit techniques that would help us to effectively address the principles provided to guide councils’ judgements in key areas (such as decision-making and consultation) within the general empowerment that the 2002 Act provides.

One of the elements of the methodology we developed is the “self-assessment”. While this is an experimental approach, we were aware that mayors and chief executives in the United Kingdom had evaluated self-assessment as the most useful tool used by the United Kingdom Audit Commission in undertaking Comprehensive Performance Assessments of local authorities in a statutory context similar to the 2002 Act. In deciding to use this approach, we consulted, developed, and tested the assessment with sector representatives.

Our purpose for using this approach was to ensure that our audit work would be based on an understanding of the processes that underlie councils’ preparation of an LTCCP from a principle-based, governance perspective. This would enable us to:

  • provide feedback for auditors, based on our understanding of “reasonableness” reflecting the diversity of councils;
  • identify risks in the council’s development of its LTCCP that were relevant to our planning of audit work and that had the potential to affect the nature and content of our opinion and management report; and
  • establish a base of knowledge and information to allow us to assist the sector in the future by developing information to support good practice.

A small group of advisers oversaw our review of councils’ self-assessments. These advisers were suggested by Local Government New Zealand and the Society of Local Government Managers because of their knowledge and understanding of the 2002 Act and the operation of councils.

The review involved grouping councils according to their size and scale. These groups had to be large enough to allow generalisation but small enough to be meaningful. We used 6 variables – 3 that were related to external constraints (population, rates to median income, and population to area) and 3 that were related to internal constraints (full-time equivalent staff, debt to equity, and other council income).

We grouped each data variable into 6 groups by looking at their spread. Councils were sorted according to which group they most commonly fell into across all the 6 variables.

We then reviewed each council’s self-assessment, and focused on common themes that emerged from the information. These themes were:

  • Consultation – the range of mechanisms used to engage with a range of stakeholders, how the council’s approach to managing consultation is instilled in the organisation, how consultation feedback is captured, involvement of stakeholders at phases of decision-making, the effectiveness of consultation techniques, and methods for engaging with Māori.
  • Outcomes – assessment and communication of current state of well-being and trends, engagement of groups and organisations capable of contributing to the achievement of outcomes and monitoring, engagement with the community (including representativeness and inclusivity), community prioritisation and confirmation of the outcomes, and development of monitoring intentions.
  • Governance – involvement from councillors and staff, clarity of roles between participants in the process, and relationships and links between policies and maintenance of such relationships.
  • Decision-making – general processes around the preparation and presentation of decision-making advice that showed consideration of the decision-making requirements of the 2002 Act, controls around information going to councillors and the community, whether or not inconsistent decisions can be identified, and council-based levels of service decisions on appropriate sector-developed good practice.
  • Performance management systems – whether or not regular performance management information is used to guide council activities and decisions; whether or not there is a logical framework and relationship between community outcomes and service levels; whether or not other sources of information/initiatives are identified and used to manage performance (for example, customer complaints and any other monitoring of well-being).

We developed group descriptors to help our auditors in planning their audit work, forming opinions, and exercising judgement about the reasonableness of councils’ approaches.2

While the discussion below sets out the main themes that we identified, each council will have provided additional information to allow auditors to assess whether issues have been correctly identified in each instance. The auditors also assess the significance of the information for our audit work, recognising that there may be further information or circumstances that should be taken into account as auditors form their opinions and report to each council.

Below are the common issues that we identified.


The consultation provisions are an area that has greater emphasis in the 2002 Act compared to the Local Government Act 1974 (the 1974 Act). The provisions require judgement to be used, and rest on consultation practices and principles that have been emerging both in New Zealand and internationally for some time. The 2002 Act therefore reflects the growing expectation of communities to have reasonable opportunities to be heard.

Consultation infrastructure

In our view, councils generally take their consultation duties seriously and make good endeavours to consult and to make their processes accessible. We were concerned about the responses to basic procedural requirements in only a handful of cases. These included providing responses to submitters about the result of, and reasons for, decisions and whether the council had mechanisms for consulting with Māori. Issues we noted tended to relate to improvements to their existing processes that councils could consider. However, probably because councils are still becoming familiar with the 2002 Act’s emphasis on general consultation obligations (rather than on statutory consultation procedures for specific decisions), in almost 40% of the self-assessments it did not appear that councils had set up the formal internal support to assist staff and elected representatives to ensure that:

  • consultation steps are observed, such as considering the significance of issues to decide if, and what type of, consultation may be necessary; and
  • the relationship between proposed consultation and decision-making needs is clear.

Options provided in consultation

Councils need to carefully judge the extent of information about decision options and their associated costs and benefits that they provide in public consultation material.

Decision-making obligations require councils to seek to identify all reasonably practicable options for achieving the objective of a decision. A consultation principle in section 82(1)(a) of the 2002 Act requires councils to provide persons who may be affected by, or interested in, a matter with relevant information in a manner and format that is appropriate to the preferences and needs of those persons.

We noted that about a third of councils did not seem to provide much information about the options and the effects of those options in public consultation material. Where option information was provided, there was extensive information about the preferred option and little or none about other options.

Councils have a leadership role, and it is appropriate for their views to be given in public information. However, it is also important that a reasonable level of coverage is provided so that communities can assess the relative merits of options when providing feedback.

Making effective use of consultation

One area that we thought councils could consider further is the means by which they evaluate the effectiveness of their consultation. Many councils have expressed concerns both to us and to others about the compliance costs of consultation and the potential for “consultation fatigue” by placing too great a consultation burden on communities. We were therefore surprised that over a quarter of councils did not appear to have taken active steps to assess the effectiveness of their consultation work, in terms of whether the methods used are accessible to the public or whether the community felt it was being consulted on appropriate issues.

We think that councils are right to be concerned and check whether the consultation exercises they undertake are necessary and are as easy as possible for members of communities to participate in. We believe that councils could therefore consider ensuring that they use the information they have already obtained through previous consultation exercises more effectively. They could do this by capturing and maintaining their consultation knowledge and using this to build:

  • their awareness of the nature and type of issues that communities wish to be consulted on and those they want their council to “get on with”; and
  • their knowledge about the particular groups and individuals who might be interested in, or affected by, various types of decisions.


Councils were required to undertake a community outcomes process for the first time in 2006. Many councils made extensive and innovative efforts to get widespread and broadly representative community input. We raised questions about the process for community input with fewer than 20% of councils. However, other areas of developing the community outcomes are more challenging – particularly in the context of this first round of LTCCPs. In particular, there has been a debate about what information communities may need to allow them to give well-informed feedback about outcomes and priorities.

Providing contextual information for well-being in communities

Almost half of councils did not appear to have provided communities with information about the social, economic, environmental, and cultural state of their city, district, or region, often because they were concerned that to do so could distort the feedback that communities may provide. In our view, the 2002 Act is clear that the purpose of the community outcomes process is to allow communities opportunities to consider outcomes and priorities in the context of well-being. We therefore think that objective information about current state and trends would be helpful for people wishing to participate.

Liaison with other organisations and groups

We were also concerned that it was not clear in about a quarter of cases if aspects of the requirements of section 91(3) of the 2002 Act, about engagement of other organisations and groups capable of influencing the identification or promotion of community outcomes, had been given effect. We recognise this is an area in which practice is developing and strengthening.

Development of monitoring arrangements

We were surprised that over a third of councils had not completed their community outcomes process at the time we reviewed their self-assessments (July and August 2005). If councils are to be able to consider how their services can contribute to outcomes, outcome information needs to be in place before the service levels and other underlying information are assessed. It was not clear to us how this sequential development would have been able to occur for some councils. This is likely to have put pressure on these councils, as they would have had to consider a large range of information simultaneously much later in the process of delivering their LTCCP.

Likewise, we were surprised that monitoring intentions for community outcomes had not been developed in some cases. Section 92(1) of the 2002 Act sets out the requirements for local authorities for the monitoring and reporting of progress towards community outcomes, and section 92(2) sets out the obligation to seek the agreement of other organisations to the monitoring and reporting procedures. Clause 1 of Schedule 10 states that the LTCCP must set out how a council will monitor and report on community outcomes. In our view, the potential to develop monitoring intentions at the outcome level should have assisted councils to create a meaningful performance framework for their own service levels by giving a logical flow for performance management and reporting.

Providing for community debate on priorities

We have noticed, as has the local government sector generally, that the community outcomes for many cities, districts, and regions are often broadly similar. However, it appeared from the self-assessments that up to 15% of councils may not have undertaken steps within their outcomes process to allow communities to debate priorities and options, as intended by section 91(2) of the 2002 Act. It may be that using local information and processes that sharpen community and stakeholder attention on current context and trends in setting outcomes and priorities would encourage more local variation to emerge. However, we are also conscious that local variation is not of itself the goal of a community outcomes process.

Our audit obligations in respect of community outcomes

The community outcomes process does not form part of the LTCCP, and is therefore not directly covered by our audit opinion. Rather:

  • the LTCCP is required to include information about the outcomes, the process by which they were developed, how they are to be monitored, and how the council’s activities will contribute to their achievement; and
  • the outcomes are a part of the underlying information that a council is required to consider when building a long-term plan, and it is therefore important that the information is prepared in a manner that would allow a council to rely on it when preparing its LTCCP.

Our focus has therefore been on understanding the process used by each council, and checking that the required statutory information is included in LTCCPs. We observe that, while there were many stand-alone processes that were well run by individual councils, processes that involved collaboration by groups of neighbouring councils generally allowed both greater engagement with community and other groups capable of influencing outcomes, and greater sharing of the cost of the process. However, there is also a risk that regional processes could overlook specific local concerns.


Preparing a long-term plan is a process in which underlying technical information must be reconciled with a council’s existing policies and strategies and then shaped by the emerging and changing preferences of communities. The elected representatives who make the choices and trade-offs for the long-term direction of a council are at the heart of this process. We therefore wanted to understand the governance processes underlying the preparation of LTCCPs.

Involvement of elected members and staff

We noted widely divergent approaches in councils’ facilitation of community outcomes and the councillors’ involvement. Such approaches are for each council to determine. However, from our review of self-assessment responses, we were concerned that there may not have been a high level of opportunity for involvement by councillors in up to a third of cases. In our view, if elected members have had a minimal role in developing the LTCCP (for instance, if their opportunity for involvement occurs solely at the presentation of an SOP for adoption), there are risks that the LTCCP will not be understood, owned, and supported by its governing body.

Likewise, an LTCCP that is not based on the underlying information prepared and managed by council staff, and that is not communicated to, or understood by, those staff, is less likely to be seen as relevant, and is therefore less likely to be implemented and maintained. We were not confident about the level of senior managers’ communication about the council’s long-term planning to staff in just fewer than 20% of instances.

Alignment and strategic flow

In working to determine the levels of service that a council both aims to achieve over time and may be able to achieve at any point in time, a council draws together information from:

  • “top-down” sources – such as the results of the community outcomes process, statutory obligations, assumptions about the wider changes that are likely to affect the council, and a range of policies and plans that the council has chosen to adopt; and
  • “bottom-up” sources – such as the condition and likely remaining lives of its assets, its current staff, and commitments such as financing arrangements.

A council therefore needs to plan its LTCCP so that each of these sources of information is prepared, and to draw these together in a logical sequence. In particular, we noted that although asset management plans including service levels were in the process of being confirmed:

  • newer parts of the 2002 Act, such as community outcomes or water and sanitary services assessments, were sometimes still being prepared; or
  • council policies and plans had not been maintained nor had their continuing relevance been confirmed.

Conceivably, these extra steps could provide information or public feedback that it would be useful to consider when confirming service levels.

Quality assurance processes

Ensuring that the document tells a coherent and consistent story, and contains all its required contents, is one of the important final processes in preparing a plan that integrates many sources and types of information. We asked councils to tell us the quality assurance steps they were intending to take to ensure this, and we had concerns about these in just over 20% of cases.


One of the areas that the 2002 Act has placed a greater emphasis on than the 1974 Act has been in setting out principles and council responsibilities with respect to decision-making.

The adoption of an LTCCP is itself a decision. However, an LTCCP is also a synthesis or integration of a series of underlying decisions made over time. The decisions are reflected in the services a council provides and the assets and resources it commands to deliver those services. We have therefore been concerned to both:

  • ensure that the process of adoption meets each council’s responsibilities under the 2002 Act; and
  • understand the internal systems by which a council ensures that it addresses its decision-making responsibilities (set out primarily in sections 76-81 of the 2002 Act) when it makes any specific decision.

Systems underlying decision-making

In circumstances where there are not adequate systems and resources in place to ensure that decision-making responsibilities can be met, there is a risk that the decision-making provisions of the 2002 Act (for example, about the significance of an issue and the identification and analysis of options having regard to effects on well-being) have not been complied with. We raised questions with over half of the councils about areas of their systems and processes for decision-making as a result of our review of their self-assessments. We think this is likely to be because:

  • The decision-making requirements generally require councils to identify and consider relevant matters when determining the procedures and factors they need to assess for each decision. Therefore, the decision-making provisions are essentially judgement-based, rather than setting out prescriptive requirements.
  • The decision-making provisions are newer areas of local government legislation, and many councils are determining how best to address the intention of the requirements.

Inconsistent decisions

One area in which we noted concerns was that of section 80 of the 2002 Act–

80 Identification of inconsistent decisions—

(1) If a decision of a local authority is significantly inconsistent with, or is anticipated to have consequences that will be significantly inconsistent with, any policy adopted by the local authority or any plan required by this Act or any other enactment, the local authority must, when making the decision, clearly identify—

(a) the inconsistency; and
(b) the reasons for the inconsistency; and
(c) any intention of the local authority to amend the policy or plan to accommodate the decision.

(2) Subsection (1) does not derogate from any other provision of this Act or of any other enactment.

The planning provisions set out a framework within which council decisionmaking is to occur. The provisions emphasise integrated decision-making by councils with opportunities for public participation.3Section 80 essentially says that deviating from prior plans and policies in force is acceptable if a council considers and understands the effects of the intended change and is open about its reasons for doing so. A council therefore needs to be conscious of its existing policies and plans for it to be able to identify deviations from them. The responses to self-assessments suggested that nearly a third of councils do not have arrangements that make policies and their implications easily known (primarily by council staff) for the purpose of identifying inconsistent decisions.

Determining levels of service

The other area that we were interested in was the process councils used to decide on levels of service to provide. Determining and understanding service levels and their effects is important, as they provide the basis for planning asset management intentions, as well as general operating needs. Service levels can be influenced by various factors – for example, legislative requirements, resident or customer needs, and preferences supported by underlying technical specifications. Understanding and making choices about the level of service to deliver is therefore a core decision-making function that in turn dictates the expenditure and revenue needs of a council.

At the time of our self-assessment work, about 40% of councils told us their service levels were still being developed. As part of reviewing asset management plans, many were taking the opportunity to review service levels either generally or in specific activity areas, or were reviewing community feedback already received to identify areas that may need improvement. In this review, councils were considering how best to address the community outcomes and well-being context that the 2002 Act requires when making decisions about service levels.

Performance management systems

Many councils identified difficulties in this area. These can be summarised as:

  • a lack of resources internally (particularly for smaller councils);
  • a lack of information specific to their area (we understand that Statistics New Zealand and other central government agencies are working on this); and
  • difficulty in developing performance measures that are both measurable and meaningful (a problem that is by no means unique to local government).

Determining performance frameworks

Most councils have been working on this area, and have continued to do so in the time leading up to the adoption of the 2006-16 LTCCPs. However, in mid- 2005, over a third were yet to complete development work on a performance framework for assessing service levels. Our analysis of responses suggested that the frameworks used by almost a further third may not systematically collect information that addresses intended achievements and key risks.

From the self-assessment information presented, there is a risk that performance frameworks will not:

  • provide a coherent and logical flow from well-being and community outcomes to performance measures and targets (see Figure 2.2); and
  • specify relevant performance measures accompanied by “best estimate” performance targets.

Figure 2.2
Logical flow in the performance framework

Figure showing logical flow in the performance framework.

We are conscious that performance measures and targets are one of the evolving areas of the 2002 Act as councils work to link well-being and outcomes to the rationale for activities and service levels, and to performance measures and targets. We are also conscious that there are inherent difficulties in assessing performance for some types of activities (such as emergency response services). We therefore asked our auditors to exercise careful judgement about the materiality of weaknesses in councils’ performance frameworks. We also maintained a national overview of our audit work to ensure that we formed opinions consistently, while taking account of the relative size and scale of councils.

This is an area that we acknowledge will see improvement over time. We aim to support this work, and to date have shared with the sector the understanding we have gained in thinking about, and assessing, the development of council performance frameworks and systems.

Key controls review

Alongside the self-assessment work described in paragraphs 2.116-2.160, our auditors also conducted a high-level review of the planning systems and processes each council adopted to prepare its LTCCP. This “key controls” review looked at:

  • project management;
  • asset management planning;
  • establishment of levels of service;
  • business plans and budgets;
  • financial modelling; and
  • performance monitoring and reporting.

The purpose of the “key controls” review was to analyse the controls that councils used to assess their audit risks. Being able to rely on controls lessens the auditor’s need to do detailed checking. Each council’s review was centrally analysed using the same grouping and general process outlined for the self-assessment process. This enabled a consistent approach to be taken and ensured that each council was assessed for audit risk relative to its size and scale of operation.

Key findings

We outline below the common concerns that arose from this work.

Project management

In general, project management and planning did not address the risk of tasks or information being incomplete. The process tended to rely strongly on senior management reviewing whether or not information was complete. This was coupled with a general tendency to produce information “just in time”. The risks of “just in time” planning became evident when the SOPs to adopt a draft LTCCP were centrally reviewed. The time needed for audit clearance and multiple plan iterations was often not built into the plan, and many councils had to move meeting dates in order for the plan to be completed or amended and an unqualified audit opinion issued.

Asset management planning and service level definition

Many councils appeared to be preparing this underlying base of information at a late stage and were potentially not leaving enough time to prepare an integrated plan. This meant that, in some instances, it was not clear how asset management information informed capital expenditure projections and operational plans. In other instances, it appeared that asset management information was being adjusted to fit within available funding without any apparent consideration of the effect this may have on levels of service.

In a number of instances, the audit of the SOP to adopt the LTCCP involved additional work because the information in the asset management plans was out of date, unreliable, and, in some cases, non-existent. Some councils are still not producing asset management plans that are reliable enough to inform strategic planning.

We intend to report further on our observations of asset management in our report to Parliament on the results of our LTCCP audit work.

Financial modelling

There was a lack of integrity checks and consistency flows within models – particularly when associated with spreadsheets. Some councils also intended to use financial modelling systems rather than relying on spreadsheets, but at the time of our field reviews (late 2005) these systems were yet to be written or implemented. This meant that their suitability and effectiveness would be confirmed only relatively late in the cycle for developing the LTCCP.

While a large number of councils used integrated financial modelling packages, there were still many that relied on spreadsheet systems to produce the financial information for the LTCCP. While a well-written spreadsheet is a powerful tool, in too many cases they were not robust enough to allow adequate modelling of options. They also did not have the checks and controls we would expect, to ensure adequate flow through of assumptions and calculated values.


It is important that councils take the lessons and experiences of the 2006-16 LTCCP process and build on them for the 2009-19 LTCCP.

Self-assessments were provided to us in response to a request for information to help us assess underlying processes associated with consultation, preparation of community outcomes, governance, decision-making, and performance management systems. Key controls were prepared by our auditors through high-level reviews of council systems and discussions with council management.

The information has formed one of the inputs on which our auditors have assessed risk for the purpose of planning substantive audit work. Therefore issues identified through these processes have been considered and raised with each council, as relevant, to determine if the risk has been correctly identified and, if so, how it might be mitigated or addressed by the council, either for the 2006-16 LTCCP or in future planning processes.

We are grateful for the sector’s co-operation in providing this important information.

While councils are completing LTCCPs – often with “work-arounds” to deal with control issues – it is apparent that, for many, the nature of the process is a project undertaken every 3 years. For the LTCCP process to deliver on the purposes outlined in section 93(6) of the 2002 Act, councils will need to ensure that the planning and management processes are ongoing.

To achieve this, councils should consider:

  • continuing to develop processes to give effect to the principles of the 2002 Act;
  • continuing to develop robust underlying information – for example, asset management plans, levels of service, and assumptions;
  • implementing reliable modelling systems;
  • developing adequate disclosures – for example, price changes;
  • developing meaningful performance management frameworks – especially ones that document the rationale for the activity and the levels of service provided; and
  • ensuring internal consistency and integrity.

Next steps by the Office of the Auditor-General

We intend to review the process we undertook for the audit of the 2006-16 LTCCP when our audit work is complete. We intend to provide information on this in our next report to Parliament on local government in 2007, and expect that this will cover issues such as lessons learned, the feedback from the sector, and our progress towards the audit of the next LTCCP.

1: See Local Government: Results of the 2003-04 Audits, parliamentary paper B.29[05b], pages 63-76, for further comment on our audit approach.

2: The group descriptors and more detail about the process we used are on our website (

3: See, for example, section 93(6) of the 2002 Act.

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