John Roughan: Auckland should not lose services – Herald – Saturday 12 July

I found this article interesting article as I wasn’t aware of what the National Government have and are doing behind the scenes in terms of setting specific measurable targets for government departments. There is no doubt in my mind that having clear targets helps with delivery and I agree that many organisations and departments are poor at goal setting and worse at following through but this is not just a public sector problem.

However in any organisation there are people working hard to improve things and provide great service and Council is no different. Being a professional engineering consultant I deal with Council almost daily and while I have had more than my share of battles with Council I don’t think the article is fair nor balanced in categorising Council as a comfortably overstaffed, underworking morass of inefficiency.

Some departments have made major advances in improving services in recent years and I have attended industry presentations where clear goals were spelt out by the department head and myself and peers from various other consultancies have agreed that we are seeing improvement in line with these targets. Many of the people I know well within Council are extremely hard working and I have many examples of staff working late or in the weekends to meet deadlines. Various other blogs I have written in recent weeks have set out examples of Council staff acting responsibly and sensibly in delivering what Aucklanders need, delivering services while saving cost. Many of these hard working Council staff are the first to point their finger at under performing co workers and ask them to step up.

While it is easy to pull examples of poor performance from any organisation the media has a habit of presenting these as the norm which is anything but balanced and it is frustrating and demotivating for those trying to make a difference. There is no doubt that there is room for improvement within Council but given the enormity of the task of pulling eight Council’s together into one organisation over the past few years while keeping things moving there is also much to admire in Council’s performance and maybe we should occasionally recognise this. Challenges lie ahead but throwing stones doesn’t help and a section of this article detracts from what was otherwise a well written informative piece with learnings that those parts of Council that aren’t delivering might well adopt.