Part 6: Looking to the future

Effectiveness and efficiency of arrangements to repair pipes and roads in Christchurch - follow-up audit.

In this Part, we discuss:


There is work that the public entities need to do now to realise the benefits of the work carried out by SCIRT for Christchurch, for responses to future disasters, and for major infrastructure programmes.

We also share some considerations from our audits about SCIRT for all public entities to keep in mind for the future.

Immediate priorities for Christchurch

The public entities and SCIRT need to sustain recent momentum in preparing for the transition from SCIRT back to the public entities, to realise the benefits of SCIRT's work for the people of Christchurch, and for broader application.

The Horizontal Infrastructure Governance Group, Infrastructure Programme Transition Group, and SCIRT Board need to work with the Council and SCIRT to support them in:

  • implementing the Transition Implementation Plan, including the transfer of information from SCIRT to the Council; and
  • improving the timeliness of the handover of assets to the Council.

This should include, for example, ensuring that the Council and SCIRT have access to the right resources and expertise at the right time to carry out the Transition Implementation Plan (see paragraphs 4.8-4.17 ), and to actively manage the risks associated with the transition.

If the Council transfers the information from SCIRT proficiently, then it will be in a sound position to realise the benefits of the information collected by SCIRT. The Council could use this information to develop systems, practices, and policies to complete repairs to the horizontal infrastructure, and to manage it and the higher costs, over the next 20-30 years.

The public entities need to continue actively and systematically identifying, recording, and sharing their lessons from the Alliance approach. In our view, waiting until the "end" poses significant risks because of staff turnover and changes to organisations. Lessons identified and shared during the repair work can be examined at the end to see whether they remain valid, and whether value for money was achieved from the Alliance. SCIRT and the public entities' work under the Transition Implementation Plan provides an opportunity to do this. However, failure to identify and record lessons now increases the risk that the benefits of the Alliance and SCIRT work will not be fully realised.

We suggest that the public entities look at:

  • how they will manage continuity of membership at meetings during the remaining stages of the SCIRT work programme (see paragraph 3.24 );
  • whether they need to strengthen the audit framework to address concerns about financial reporting and how they decide risk levels (see paragraph 3.48); and
  • whether reporting on financial information to the Horizontal Infrastructure Governance Group and the SCIRT Board needs to be changed (see paragraph 3.53).

We appreciate that, given the current stage of the programme, these three suggestions may not be a priority or essential for completing the SCIRT work programme. Nevertheless, we encourage entities to consider them.

Wider considerations for all public entities

Public entities can prepare themselves to perform well during major construction work or disaster recovery so that all parties can act in good faith to meet the immediate and future needs of the community.

We consider that some questions arising from our audits about SCIRT are useful reminders for all public entities about the complexities of programme governance and management, especially for the remaining stages of the Christchurch recovery. The questions are not intended to be exhaustive. Figure 10 lists some challenges and questions to consider when multiple parties are involved with major construction work or responding to natural disasters.

Figure 10
Challenges and questions to consider when multiple parties are involved with major construction work or responding to natural disasters

Ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear
  • How will you ensure that governance roles and responsibilities are clear, and do not overlap with management roles and responsibilities?
  • If agreement cannot be reached, how and when can escalation procedures be initiated and by whom?
  • How will you organise funding so that public entities can adapt quickly and appropriately to programme changes (within their financial constraints and obligations)?
  • How will you jointly agree on the standards to which the work should be produced? (e.g. levels of services for assets.)
  • How will real and potential conflicts of interest be identified and managed? (If a conflict of interest exists, it does not necessarily mean that someone has done something wrong – the conflict just needs to be identified and managed carefully.)
  • How and when will agreements and memorandums of understanding be updated when circumstances change, and is it clear which documents apply in which circumstances?
Promoting collaboration
  • How will you agree on a common purpose to drive the work programme? (e.g. SCIRT had "Better for rebuild".)
  • How will you encourage the right mind-set for participants? (e.g. SCIRT has six mind-sets or values for its work ‒ best for communities, open to new ways and perspectives, collectively we are stronger, be generous with trust, zero harm, and developing our people.)
  • How will you encourage the right behaviours in participants? (e.g. SCIRT has six behaviours to encourage collaboration ‒ listen actively, work together, strive for excellence, have honest conversations, have the courage to speak up, and lead by example.)
Managing relationships in good faith
  • How will you inform the public about your work constructively, consistently, and in easily accessible language? (e.g. one spokesperson for programme with multiple parties.)
  • How will you ensure that all parties openly, promptly, and fairly engage each other when resolving issues? (e.g. where possible, joint advice should be given, and differing opinions should be fairly recorded so that decision-makers are well informed.)
  • How will you promptly inform all parties about decisions that affect them, including discussing how the decisions will be implemented (and the effect on each party) to reduce the risk of misunderstandings?
Promoting continuous improvement
  • What legacy will you leave? (e.g. one of SCIRT's objectives was to lift the capability of the sector and its workforce, including fostering innovation.)
  • How will you promote continuous improvement? (e.g. all parties should actively, systematically, and routinely identify, share, and apply lessons learned from the beginning of the work.)
  • How will you identify, share, and apply the lessons learned by others in similar situations?