Bus Interchange

Effectiveness of governance arrangements for the Bus Interchange project.

1. Introduction

The theme for our work programme theme in 2014/15 was Governance and accountability. We chose this theme because of recent significant changes in legislation and financial reporting standards that affect public sector accountability arrangements. Good governance is important for achieving successful outcomes for major projects.

We audited three projects that are part of the Canterbury earthquake recovery. The recovery has long-term implications for people’s lives as well as the economy. Rebuilding Canterbury is a priority for the Government and is a significant area of public spending. Strong governance is needed to ensure that public funds are spent appropriately, that entities are working together to deliver intended outcomes, and to provide clear accountability for Cantabrians and all New Zealanders.

The three projects we audited were the Bus Interchange, the New Central Library, and the Acute Services Building at Christchurch Hospital. This document reports our findings and conclusions about the Bus Interchange project.

We have assessed the governance and accountability arrangements of the three projects against six principles of good governance. We identified these principles by drawing on some of our previous reports as well as other relevant literature. Figure 1 sets out the six principles.

Figure 1
Principles of good governance

Clarity of purpose Governance sets a clear strategic purpose for the entity or project and provides direction that drives the entity towards achieving that purpose.
Accountability The governance structure includes a clear accountability framework.
Roles and responsibilities Each part of the governance structure has clear roles and responsibilities that are complementary and aligned with strategy.
Leadership Leadership is demonstrated across all levels of governance.
Information and reporting The governance arrangements are supported by information and reporting for monitoring performance, managing risks, making decisions, and providing direction.
Capability and participation The right people are involved in governance.

Governance arrangements for the Bus Interchange project

There are several entities and people involved in governing the Bus Interchange project. We identified the Project Steering Group as the main governance group where important decisions are made and recommendations agreed, and where the project gets the direction it needs. Our findings focus on the Project Steering Group. However, where appropriate, we refer to several other entities, groups, and people that are part of the wider governance and accountability framework.

We did not look at the decision to build the Bus Interchange, its project management, or other projects led by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). Our findings apply only to the Bus Interchange project. However, there might be lessons that can be applied to other projects.

Figure 2 shows the governance structure for the Bus Interchange project.

Figure 2
Governance structure and accountability lines for the Bus Interchange project

Governance structure and accountability lines for the Bus Interchange project

Source: CERA and the Office of the Auditor-General.

Overall findings

Overall, the governance and accountability arrangements for the Bus Interchange project were largely consistent with the principles of good governance.

CERA has clearly put considerable effort into the design and implementation of the governance arrangements for the projects it is leading. In particular, the governance structure was clearly defined. People involved in the Bus Interchange project, both as individuals or as part of governance groups, had a clear understanding of the different roles and responsibilities and how their role fitted in to the whole.

We also found a strong culture of review and improvement, which meant that there had been ongoing changes to strengthen the governance arrangements.

The main project governance group, the Project Steering Group, brought strong leadership to the Bus Interchange project. Project Steering Group members, together with the project team, had the capability and capacity to lead the project through several challenges.

As a result, the Bus Interchange project has been completed successfully, on time, and within budget. The first part of the Bus Interchange, in particular, was completed within challenging time constraints. The Bus Interchange opened fully on 20 August 2015.

Improvements that CERA had implemented included appointing an independent chairperson to the Project Steering Group. The independent chairperson has brought focus and enhanced governance practice to the Project Steering Group. However, his appointment was not made until the Bus Interchange project was well progressed, so his ability to influence the project was limited.

2. Clarity of purpose

Why is clarity of purpose important?

People that set direction for projects need to clearly understand the project’s purpose, including the limits to what they have to do and the project’s intended outcomes. The people must also be able to understand the influence of their decisions and actions. If they do, goals are more likely to be met and intended outcomes achieved.

Individually and together, people in governance positions need to focus on more than just the reports on the project. They need to think at a strategic level, disseminate that thinking, and understand the effects of the directions they give.

The Project Steering Group has a clear strategic purpose and defined outcomes

The terms of reference set out, at a high level, how the Project Steering Group supports the Central City Programme Steering Group. The terms of reference clearly state that the Project Steering Group must govern effectively in keeping with the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan’s vision. The terms of reference also state that Project Steering Group decisions must align with the Christchurch Central Delivery Programme’s strategic goals.

Bus Interchange project documents, such as the detailed design brief and the project management plan, describe the project’s intended outcomes. These outcomes include helping to re-enliven the city and its economy by playing an important part in the wider public transport network. The Bus Interchange will influence how people get into the city for work and where they spend their leisure time. People we spoke to were aware that the Bus Interchange is a flagship “anchor project” and has the potential to play a big part in encouraging people back to the city centre. They were also aware that, as the first Government-led anchor project to be completed, the Bus Interchange will influence public perceptions of CERA and wider recovery efforts.

The Project Steering Group’s main purpose is clearly set out in the Bus Interchange Roles and Responsibilities document. The Project Steering Group is required to direct the Project Control Group and Project Director, confirm changes (within overall budget), and oversee project progress. CERA explained that the Project Steering Group does not have the authority to make decisions; this authority rests with individual CERA employees. The Project Steering Group is an advisory group. This was well understood by those we spoke to. (We discuss this further in section 3 of this document.)

Project Steering Group members understand the project scope

Members of the Project Steering Group had a good understanding of the project scope. The Bus Interchange project involves much more than construction. Project Steering Group members told us that they also oversee project work connected to the operation of the Bus Interchange. Examples include bus driver training, testing design mock-ups, and writing operating procedures. This preparation work also ensures that the existing public transport network will continue to work seamlessly and that the Bus Interchange will work well within it.

The people we spoke to understood how the Bus Interchange fits into the bigger transport picture. In particular, we heard that the success of the Bus Interchange will be an indicator of success for An Accessible City. Integration with the wider transport network and An Accessible City are important objectives for the Bus Interchange project. An Accessible City is the programme of work to create a network that makes it easy, safe, and enjoyable to move around Christchurch. It includes future road layouts; providing for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, and private vehicles; speed zones and streetscapes; parking; and service vehicle requirements.

3. Accountability

Why is accountability important?

Public accountability is how authorities using public resources explain their activities:

The level of citizen trust in the ability and motivation of decision-makers in authority determines how well society works. If decision-makers are required to explain their intentions, reasons and performance standards publicly, fully and fairly before they act, citizens can act fairly and sensibly to commend, alter or halt the intentions.1

Who is accountable for what, and who they are accountable to, needs to be clear. Everyone involved in the activity should understand the accountability framework.

When projects are funded by public money, the public has the right to know whether that money is well spent. If accountability is unclear, they cannot know who is ultimately responsible for the results.

Being accountable to the public means keeping the public informed about important decisions, how a project is progressing, and what results are being achieved. The public are often asked for their views about what they want from a project. Decision-makers should ensure that the public’s views are heard. Those decision-makers should then tell the public how they have acted on those views.

Project accountabilities are clear now but caused some confusion early on

CERA explained that accountability for the projects it is leading rests with specific individual employees. These employees have the authority to make final decisions. The Project Steering Group, and other groups that are part of the governance structure, have advisory roles. We understand that this accountability arrangement was a Ministerial direction.

CERA told us that this arrangement is unusual and caused some confusion early on. However, CERA also told us the Bus Interchange project had not experienced any problems as a result of the confusion and there was now a good understanding of how the arrangements work. People we spoke to who are part of the project governance arrangements confirmed this.

Project Steering Group accountabilities could cause confusion

Although it is not directly accountable for the Bus Interchange project, the Project Steering Group does have some accountabilities. Its terms of reference state that the Project Steering Group is accountable to the Central City Programme Steering Group for effective and efficient governance of the project. This means that the Project Steering Group is accountable for the advice it gives. In our view, there could be confusion about who can be held accountable for decisions: the person making the decision or the group that advised them.

Accountabilities at the Project Steering Group level are broadly defined in the terms of reference. For example, we found it unclear when matters should be referred to the funding authorities. People told us they knew this instinctively but could not define it more clearly.

How people are held accountable is unclear

We also found it unclear how people or groups were held to account, at both project and governance levels. We understand that CERA has formal and informal performance management practices, but we did not see any specific examples that might have shown us how these worked.

Informal discussions and decisions occur but requirements for them are not clear

In some instances, the Project Steering Group has discussed and agreed decisions outside formal meetings. Sometimes this will be appropriate, even necessary, but should not become commonplace.

We saw one example where members of the Project Steering Group were contacted by email and asked to approve the monthly update from the Project Director. This included approving changes to membership of the Project Steering Group and Project Control Group. There was a record of each person’s comments and signed approval.

However, the terms of reference do not cover informal decisions. They do not include guidance to show when informal decisions might be acceptable or how to record and tell people about them. The terms of reference should be amended to include this guidance. This would improve the transparency of decision-making.

Targeted interest groups were consulted on the design

In our view, there were enough opportunities for the public and operational users to have their say. The project has consulted with targeted interest groups. Project reports note that consultation included bus operators, other paid transport operators, local developers, and the Passenger Transport Advisory Group. Consultation also included Christchurch youth community groups who used the old Bus Exchange as a safe environment for planned activities.

The Passenger Transport Advisory Group includes people representing people who catch buses, bus line operators, Environment Canterbury, local councils, and cycling and accessibility groups. The Bus Interchange project appears to have gathered most of its feedback from this group. It is not clear how broadly representative this group was.

Project representatives have also given presentations about the Bus Interchange to the Community Forum. These presentations provided an opportunity for the Community Forum to ask questions.

In our interviews, Project Steering Group members explained that they have considered the feedback and input from the operational and passenger groups, including those with specific needs. However, we have not seen any evidence of how the group reported back to the people who provided input about how their feedback had been used. Responding to feedback is an important part of the consultation process. It promotes transparency and helps those involved feel they have been listened to.

CERA has provided information about the project to the public

CERA has made information about the project readily available to the public. The main source of information is CERA’s website, which has sections for each of the anchor projects. Information includes maps, plans, photo galleries, and the latest project news. Information on the Bus Interchange project was comprehensive but not always up to date. Other public entities, including Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council (the Council), also have information on their websites.

Other information sources include publications from CERA and the Council that are sent to all households in Christchurch. We have also seen updates on social media platforms, such as Twitter.

4. Roles and responsibilities

Why are clear roles and responsibilities important?

Good governance gives direction and surety to the people who put ideas into action and bring projects to life. The people at each level of project governance need to understand what part they play in completing the project and delivering intended outcomes.

Clearly documented roles and responsibilities confirm what is expected from each position and group and how they work together. When roles and responsibilities are well understood – and followed – it helps each person make their intended contribution. If roles and responsibilities are not well understood, these contributions might be duplicated or, worse, not made at all.

Having clear roles and responsibilities also supports good decision-making when different views or conflicts need to be resolved.

Roles and responsibilities are clear and well understood

The terms of reference set out the Project Steering Group’s main roles and responsibilities. There is also a separate roles and responsibilities document but this mainly sets out what is expected from people in key project positions. Together, these documents clarify that the Project Steering Group is responsible for:

  • ensuring that the project directors and project control groups are resourced appropriately for achieving the project’s objectives and outcomes;
  • reviewing the project’s risks and issues, including making decisions about remedial support and actions that might be required;
  • managing time, cost, and quality for the project;
  • helping to resolve issues escalated by the Project Control Group;
  • liaising with other projects to ensure that they are aligned; and
  • ensuring that stakeholders and other relevant rebuilding projects are actively engaged.

Connections to other decision-makers work well but could be clearer

It is not clear when the Project Steering Group needs to escalate matters to the Programme Steering Group or the Joint Funding Bodies (see Figure 2). However, escalation does appear to work well. For example, the Project Steering Group asked the Joint Funding Bodies to approve the architectural design so that the project could go to tender. This is a milestone point in the project and commits the people funding the project to a certain level of cost. In our view, escalating this decision was appropriate.

People at all levels of the project told us they understood when escalation was appropriate, even if they could not accurately define it. It is good practice to make this clear in a project’s documentation.

5. Leadership

Why is leadership important?

Effective leaders model behaviours and actions that promote expectations of high standards of performance, professional conduct, and achievement. They show this in many ways, including:

  • scrutinising and challenging proposals to inform and make good decisions;
  • owning those decisions and being ready for scrutiny;
  • ensuring clear and open communication within and outside the project;
  • complying with relevant legislation and other requirements; and
  • promoting a culture that commits to learning and continuous improvement.

Leadership is critical to a project from early stages through to outcomes. Poorly led projects can be managed to specifications but might compromise wider outcomes.

Good leaders can also identify opportunities from adversity. If their strategic views and insights are lacking, the project might miss opportunities for new and innovative approaches to achieving the outcomes.

The Project Steering Group has shown strong leadership to help achieve intended outcomes

5.4 In our view, the Project Steering Group has shown leadership that has helped achieve the Bus Interchange project’s intended outcomes. Overall, the Project Steering Group and other parts of the governance structure have led the project through several challenges. The Bus Interchange project has been on track to meet its objectives on time and within budget. We describe below specific examples of these challenges that relate to ownership, time constraints, and alignment with An Accessible City.

Long-term ownership is not agreed

Ownership of the Bus Interchange has not been decided. CERA has taken on responsibility for owning and operating the Bus Interchange for at least 12 months, as an interim solution. Under the Cost Sharing Agreement, final ownership and liability for operating costs were assigned to either the Council or the private sector. However, the Cost Sharing Agreement does not say who is responsible for resolving any issues of ownership.

The Council has not yet confirmed whether it wants to own the Bus Interchange.

Members of the Project Steering Group told us that they began raising concerns about finalising ownership during 2014. They raised the matter with the Central City Programme Steering Group but minutes record that there was still no decision by the Council.

CERA told us that uncertainty about ownership made it difficult to complete some aspects of the Bus Interchange project. To operate as intended, the Bus Interchange needs an owner to complete contracts for bus operations and facilities management. The Bus Interchange also includes retail outlets for lease and other commercial development opportunities. CERA reported that, while ownership remained uncertain, it had difficulty attracting interest in these opportunities. The Project Steering Group identified ownership as a significant risk.

CERA took the lead in finding an interim solution to ensure that the Bus Interchange could open and operate effectively. This solution involves CERA owning and operating the Bus Interchange on behalf of the Crown for at least the first 12 months. CERA told us it has now received a lot of interest in the retail spaces. These are due to open in the next few weeks.

The project has met critical time constraints

The Bus Interchange opened in time to meet a challenging time constraint. While the Bus Interchange was being built, a temporary interchange was operating from a site designated for the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct. The temporary interchange needed to be vacated by 31 May 2015 to avoid a financial penalty.

CERA recognised early on that meeting this constraint would be challenging. Project Steering Group members explained the approach they adopted where construction work was split into four separate areas. One of these areas would be able to take over bus operations from the temporary interchange, on a short-term basis. The Project Steering Group made sure that completing this area was a priority and resources were directed to support this. Construction of this area was completed in time. The remaining areas opened on 20 August 2015.

Although the Bus Interchange building was ready on time, a software problem was identified a few days before the planned opening date. CERA, supported by Environment Canterbury, made the difficult decision to delay the opening. CERA explained that it had set up its contracts so that the main contractor and software supplier were collectively responsible for fixing the problem. The problem was fixed within a few days and the Bus Interchange was able to open with only a week’s delay. This still left enough time to vacate the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct site. In our view, this shows that the governance arrangements were well prepared to achieve a positive outcome from this setback. In particular, the way contracts had been set up reduced the risks to the Bus Interchange project.

The Project Steering Group has overseen links with An Accessible City

The Project Steering Group has had to manage links with An Accessible City. Separate governance and management structures have presented some challenges in this. The Bus Interchange will be a central part of the transport network that An Accessible City is delivering for Christchurch. There are also other links, and some conflicts, between the two projects.

One example of this is a cycleway designed to go across the bus entry and exit ways. By working together, the two projects have identified and implemented a solution. This involves special lights to control cycle traffic when buses are entering and exiting. Although there is a solution, in our view, this is a compromise that might have been avoided if the two projects had been better co-ordinated at the design stage.

Project Steering Group members and members of the project team explained how they work closely with An Accessible City, as well as with other projects. There are regular co-ordination meetings between the two projects. However, their governance structures are separate and more alignment might have supported better co-ordination.

CERA is committed to improving the way its projects are governed

CERA shows a genuine commitment to continually improve the way it governs and manages its projects. CERA told us it drew from a wide base of information and professional advice for its governance design. We have also seen CERA seek feedback on its performance and make ongoing improvements. These have included engaging an external firm to provide a Programme Support Office and appointing independent members to its governance groups. In particular, the Central City Programme Steering Group and the project steering groups for the CERA-led anchor projects, including the Bus Interchange, all have an independent chairperson.

CERA has also committed to independent review for all of its projects. A full programme of risk-based assurance and probity reviews supports this commitment. There were no significant project or governance issues identified in recent assurance reports for the Bus Interchange project. This provides CERA and the Project Steering Group with assurance about their management and governance of the Bus Interchange project.

6. Information and reporting

Why are information and reporting important?

People leading projects must balance limited resources with direction and decisions that have the best possible influence on achieving outcomes. They need to make sensible choices based on what they can know now and what influence each choice will have. They must understand the current state of the project, the decisions needed, and the effects of their choices.

Project leaders are usually kept informed through regular reporting of a balance of present and future-focused information, including:

  • current project performance, such as milestones, activities, achievements, work in progress, resource capacity, and health; and
  • anticipated events in the future, such as potential risks, ongoing issues, and resource demands.

Information should be tailored to meet the needs of those decision-makers. It should be accurate, relevant to their role, and presented in a way they can readily understand. Too much information can obscure what they need and make the right information hard to find.

Decision-makers must also make sure that the people who will act on their decisions know what those decisions are so they can put them into practice.

People get the information they need but it could be improved

Members of the Project Steering Group and the project team told us they are satisfied with the information they receive about the Bus Interchange project, but also recognise that it could be improved.

The terms of reference provide clear high-level guidelines on what information should be reported to governance groups. Reports to the Project Steering Group include information about financial costs, quality of work carried out, and overall progress and timelines. They also include information on the main risks and issues that the project faces. These reports meet the guidelines in the terms of reference.

At levels below the Project Steering Group, the Project Management Plan clearly identifies what information each person or group within the Bus Interchange project needs to get. This shows how governance direction and decisions get to the people who need to know them.

Our assessment of reports to the Project Steering Group identified differing formats and detail. Some reporting included summary information prepared in a dashboard format that highlights main facts, issues, and risks. In our view, more use of dashboards would make information quicker and easier to understand.

We understand that CERA is taking steps to improve its reporting. Improvements already made include making information about health and safety more prominent. CERA told us that the Programme Support Office will introduce a standardised template for use by all projects and also include more information on interdependencies. We expect these improvements to have a positive effect.

We heard mixed views about how well information flowed between the different governance levels. For example, members of the Project Steering Group did not always think that recommendations from the Project Control Group were supported by enough information to make a decision. But the Project Control Group was satisfied that it got decisions when it needed. However, overall people felt satisfied that they get the information they need to fulfil their role. Some people told us that part of their role is to make sure information gets to the right people. Good information channels help to ensure that the Project Steering Group, and other parts of governance, are able to make a difference to the Bus Interchange project.

Processes are in place to help share information between projects

The Central City Programme Steering Group helps to co-ordinate the overall programme of rebuilding work. It gets information so that it can manage opportunities and potential conflicts between projects.

At a lower level, CERA has put processes in place to make sure that information is shared between projects. CERA’s development directors meet every two weeks and the independent chairpersons of the Project Steering Groups meet every two months. People told us there are also lots of less formal opportunities to share information.

For the Bus Interchange project, there are also regular co-ordination meetings with the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct project and An Accessible City project. These meetings have enabled issues such as co-ordinating road works around the Bus Interchange construction to be identified and resolved. These two projects have close dependencies with the Bus Interchange project.

These meetings and other information channels help project teams to achieve outcomes for individual projects as well as contributing towards outcomes for other projects and the wider recovery effort. We sensed a shared commitment by all the people we spoke with to rebuild a city that works for the people of Christchurch, not just to their own project.

7. Capability and participation

Why are capability and participation important?

People governing projects require a wide set of attributes and knowledge to be fully effective. They are more likely to achieve successful outcomes when they have the right qualities, skills, and experience to help them make good decisions and judgements.

These people need to bring their expertise and background to the project. They also need to commit to, and take part in, the project and any wider programmes the project is part of.

Balance and scale are also important. Different and complementary experiences and skills bring a breadth of knowledge. This should include the right amount of independence to bring an unbiased perspective. There also needs to be a mix of views to stimulate challenge and debate. Robust discussion enhances the effect the group can have. This mix adds up to more than the sum of the separate parts.

Group size should optimise opportunities for good debate and consensus without becoming a wider forum for every project aspect.

All key stakeholders are represented

The main stakeholders are represented throughout the governance structure. In our interviews, we heard that members of the Project Steering Group are mostly well placed to represent their organisation. However, we also heard that representation from the Council was sometimes weak. There have been several different people representing the Council.

The comments we heard were not about the performance of Council representatives as individuals. People told us that communication barriers within the Council prevented these representatives from being adequately informed about the Council’s priorities and objectives, and that this had made it harder to resolve ownership and other issues. We understand that, since December 2014, there has been consistent representation by someone in the Council who is better placed to fill this role.

As well as representing their organisation, each member brings their own contribution. This means having the right skills and experience as well as appropriate seniority. Project Steering Group members needed skills and experience in construction, public transport, and governance. In our view, members of the Project Steering Group met these criteria.

The terms of reference outline what is expected of Project Steering Group members. They are expected to attend meetings or send a suitably senior delegate in their absence. Minutes of Project Steering Group meetings showed that attendance was generally satisfactory, but there were some exceptions. In one case, a meeting was cancelled when not enough people could attend. The independent chairperson told us he has reaffirmed high expectations of attendance, which has improved as a result.

Representing stakeholders has been a challenge for some

Finding people to be part of the governance arrangements has sometimes been difficult. As well as finding someone to be the independent chairperson, some of the main stakeholders struggled to find people to work on the project. For example, the person representing New Zealand Transport Authority is a member of both the Project Steering Group and the Project Control Group. This makes it harder to keep a clear separation between governance and management.

Ngāi Tahu2 is represented at a programme level but it took some time to confirm this arrangement. However, people we spoke to did not see this delay as a symptom of any overarching problem. In fact, Ngāi Tahu told us the iwi has a very strong relationship with CERA.

Independent representation came late but is proving effective

In our view, the recent appointment of an independent chairperson to the Project Steering Group is having a positive influence on project governance. The chairperson understands that part of his role is to provide independent oversight of good governance practice. He told us he has tried to bring more rigour to the Project Steering Group. In particular, this has involved making sure that people come to meetings and that they come prepared. This helps with effective and efficient decision-making to keep the project moving in the right direction. Other Project Steering Group members confirmed that the chairperson has helped them understand and focus on what really matters.

Independence also brings other benefits. The chairperson explained that he is not restricted by internal structures and reporting lines. This gives him more freedom to consult with people about the Bus Interchange project and share information with other projects. He can also be more free and frank with his opinions than people who represent their organisation.

7.13 The chairperson’s ability to have an influence on project outcomes may have been limited. CERA has appointed independent chairpersons to all Project Steering Groups. It took CERA some time to identify and appoint suitable candidates. Many projects are still in the early stages and there is potential for the independent chairpersons to make a real difference to those projects. The Bus Interchange project was much further ahead and construction was already well under way when its independent chairperson was appointed. We recognise that the independent chairperson for the Bus Interchange project has made a difference. If he had been appointed earlier, he might have made an even more positive contribution.

The independent chairperson did not have a formal induction into his role. He received a briefing on appointment but told us that this did not leave him adequately prepared to chair his first meeting without risking the project losing momentum. To avoid this, he supplemented CERA’s briefing by meeting members of the project team to clarify the links with other projects and gather details about the Bus Interchange project. This helped him get up to speed with the project.

The Programme Support Office will bring additional support to governance

CERA told us it expects the Programme Support Office to bring more consistency to governance and management practices in its central city projects. Among the benefits expected are more consistent project and programme management methodologies, higher standards for project reporting, and an enhanced ability to analyse information from multiple projects. These improvements should be more evident in later CERA-led projects. In our view, the Programme Support Office could also be positioned to capture programme-wide lessons. Lessons learned from our audit could be included.

The independent chairperson also has the authority to invite external expertise to add insight and help inform the Project Steering Group. This can supplement governance capability if required. We are not aware of any situation where this has been required for the Bus Interchange project.

8. Opportunities for improvement

The Bus Interchange is the first CERA-led anchor project to be completed. Future projects will benefit from lessons learned. CERA has shown a desire and commitment to identify these lessons and improve the governance arrangements for other projects.

We have not identified any areas of great concern. However, we did identify some areas where improvements could be made. Most of these are enhancements to existing practices, rather than completely new practices. They are also matters that governance groups can influence.

Focused information and reporting

People in governance groups need timely and accurate information. In our view, there was room to improve the project reporting. In particular, more use could be made of dashboard-type reporting. We understand that the Programme Support Office will be introducing improved and more consistent reporting. We support this initiative.

Clear accountabilities

The accountabilities for each part of the governance structure could be clearer. In particular, there could be more clarity about the separation of accountability for the project from its governance, how people are held to account, and guidance for making informal decisions.


There could be clearer guidance for when risks and decisions should be escalated, particularly non-financial decisions. This would help align the responsibilities and accountabilities of all governance parties and support transparency.

Feedback on consultation

CERA should make sure that it provides feedback to people and groups it has consulted with. This feedback should include details of the results of any consultation, including any changes made.

Offline decisions

Guidance should be added to governance documents to confirm when and how decisions can be made outside formal meetings. Guidance should clarify what commitments can be made, and by whom. Guidance should also clarify standards of recording and communication that provide the right transparency and inform those who need to know.

1: See “Public Accountability and holding to Account” on the Centre for Public Accountability site: www.centreforpublicaccountability.org, accessed 6 April 2015.

2: Ngāi Tahu is the iwi of the Southern region of New Zealand.