Have you ever wondered how the money paid to local councils is spent? Or, more importantly, whether it is spent wisely? These are important questions of governance. Many column-inches have been written on these questions over the years. However, I continue to be troubled by these questions because, on the surface, there is much wastage, and that wastage is inhibiting economic development and improvements in societal well-being. Here's two examples from New Zealand:
These models—the two-tier agency model (City and Regional Councils) and the multiple-small-agency model (Wellington)—are hardly conducive to the cost-effective provision of infrastructure services. How can any city hope to be a strong and vital contributor an economy when there is bickering and fighting within? A body cannot hope to survive with two heads. A family (city) divided cannot prevail. The role of local government is local infrastructure. Far too much money is wasted on duplicated effort; and on middle management, communications and so-called consultants. Lots of activity (seemingly) but little in the way of tangible progress.
Thankfully, moves are afoot to reform local government. Wellington looks like following Auckland's lead (of one civic agency), although agreement on the best model is yet to be achieved. A smaller, coordinated civic agency can only be good for economic growth and societal well-being. If less money is spent on excess and duplication, more money should remain in the pockets of local businesses (to drive growth) and citizens (improve their well-being). The face of local government needs to change—the finger pointing and power games have gone on long enough.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.