Part 8: Information and reporting

Governance and accountability for three Christchurch rebuild projects.

In this Part, we discuss:

  • why information and reporting are important; and
  • our main findings about how well each project met our expectations of information and reporting.

Why information and reporting are 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 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 ensure that the people who will act on their decisions know what those decisions are so they can put them into practice.

Project reporting to governance groups

Overall, the people in governance and management groups for the three projects were satisfied with the information they received about their respective projects. Everyone we spoke to was well informed about their project and its main risks and issues. This meant that people in governance groups could understand what decisions they needed to make and what the implications of their decisions were likely to be.

When we first looked at the New Central Library project, its reporting lacked focus and consistency. Its risk register included too many risks, which made it difficult to see what the main risks were and what action was being taken to address them.

Some programme-level reports used indicators that did not accurately reflect the underlying information. This meant that programme level groups within the Council and the Central City Programme Steering Group could not tell when this project was at risk.

Under the new arrangements, project reporting has been improved. Papers to the Project Steering Group include a dashboard-style report that highlights important information about budget, risks, issues, and milestones. Papers also include an overview of the project status and clearly identify matters for discussion.

We spoke to members of the new Project Steering Group, who were well informed about the project and satisfied with the information and reporting they receive.

Reports to the HRPG include important information about cost, risks, issues, progress, and health and safety. These comprehensive reports are of a high standard. However, there are many of them, different people produce them, and they have inconsistent formats and detail.

This is symptomatic of the project lacking clear accountability. A consolidated report that brings all the reports together in a consistent format would help the HRPG to understand and interpret the information it receives.

Sharing information within the project

Some project management teams were better than others at ensuring that people found out about governance groups' decisions. When this happened, people could act in line with those decisions.

For the Bus Interchange and New Central Library projects, project documents identified who should be receiving information. This helped to ensure that governance direction and decisions got to the people who need to know them.

The Acute Services Building project had no guidance or agreement on how information would be shared. No formal process ensures that people are informed about HRPG decisions and discussions. Instead, it is assumed that people will share information as required. Sometimes, this does not happen and people are not told what they need to know.

Sharing information outside the project

None of these projects is taking place in isolation. Therefore, they all need to share information with other projects and activities. For the Bus Interchange and New Central Library projects, the Central City Programme Steering Group, which includes members from both CERA and the Council, facilitates this at a programme level. CERA and the Council are represented in each other's project governance groups. In general, we found that CERA and the Council were well informed about each other's projects.

At a lower level, CERA has formal and informal processes for sharing information between projects. These meetings have enabled arrangements such as co-ordinating road works around the Bus Interchange construction.

The Acute Services Building project has mutual dependencies with the other projects at Christchurch Hospital campus. At the time of our audit, the DHB was leading most of these projects and there were disagreements about how information was being shared with the HRPG and the Acute Services Building project. Delays in getting information was holding up the Acute Services Building and the other projects.

Since our audit, the Government has given the HRPG more oversight of these projects. This should help with co-ordination and information-sharing, although we understand that disagreements about this remain.


Clear and consistent reporting that highlights the most important information means that members of governance groups stay informed about the project. This helps them to make good and timely decisions.

When projects share information with other functions and projects, co-ordination and alignment are better and decisions can take broader outcomes into account.