Responses to our recommendations about Governance of the City Rail Link project

21 December 2023: We asked Auckland Council, the Ministry of Transport, and the Treasury for an update on their response to recommendations we made in 2022 about the governance arrangements of the Auckland City Rail Link.

We requested this update because we want to provide public transparency on progress with addressing our recommendations.

In 2022, our report Governance of the City Rail Link project looked at governance arrangements for the Auckland City Rail Link project and provided observations on how central and local government work together to deliver significant infrastructure projects.

Overall, we found that aspects of the project’s governance arrangements were working well, despite challenging circumstances. However, we said that it was likely that the project would exceed its current budget and take longer than originally planned to be completed.

Given that uncertainty, we stressed the importance of the CRL Board continuing to regularly update the Sponsors (the Crown and Auckland Council) on how the situation was developing so that there were no surprises and the Sponsors could factor these risks into wider investment decisions.

We made four recommendations in our report to help ensure that the City Rail Link project is successfully completed alongside wider network improvements, operates effectively from opening day, and achieves its intended benefits over the long term.

We recommended that:

  1. The Sponsors' Forum and Joint Sponsors Team prioritise improvements to the way they manage the Assurance Manager’s recommendations, to provide greater transparency of how well they are carrying out their oversight role.1
  2. The Sponsors of the City Rail Link project ensure that officials prioritise completing an agreed comprehensive benefits realisation plan that:
    • clearly defines and quantifies the benefits expected from the City Rail Link, with measures that are specific, measurable, and realistic;
    • assigns responsibility for managing benefits; and
    • assigns accountability for co-ordinating reporting on realising benefits over time.
  3. The Sponsors review the governance arrangements, to ensure that there is an appropriate mechanism for Boards of City Rail Link Limited, Auckland Transport, and KiwiRail Holdings Group to have collective oversight of project dependencies and support the Delivery Partners Steering Committee, with joint decision-making where appropriate.2
  4. Officials from Auckland Council, the Ministry of Transport, and the Treasury ensure that they sustain improvements in reporting to the Sponsors, to promote accountability, improve governance, and gain the confidence of stakeholders.

Read what Auckland Council, the Ministry of Transport and the Treasury have said about their progress with our recommendations:

  • The full text of Auckland Council’s response, in HTML or as sent to us in PDF.
  • The full text of the Treasury's and the Ministry of Transport’s response, in HTML or as sent to us in PDF.

We have not audited the information provided by these organisations.

The establishment of the One Client Governance Group in response to our report appears to be a positive step.3 We also note that further work is needed to fully address the other recommendations made in our 2022 report.  

We will write again to Auckland Council, the Ministry of Transport, and the Treasury in 2024/25 seeking a further update on progress in implementing our recommendations, including an update on the effectiveness of the One Client Governance Group.

1: At the time of our audit, the Sponsors Forum was made up of senior officials from the agencies that worked on the Sponsors’ behalf. The Joint Sponsors Team acted as the secretariat for the Sponsors' Forum.

2: The Delivery Partner Steering Committee is a forum for the agencies that are responsible for the project as well as agencies responsible for wider rail network improvements (which are needed to integrate the City Rail Link into Auckland’s transport network).

3: The One Client Governance Group is a forum for Board Chairs and Sponsors’ representatives who oversee the project’s dependencies and interdependencies.