The top 10 questions you could ask about the accountability of your infrastructure planning

Asset management and long-term planning.

The top 10 questions we believe governors and senior managers could ask to improve accountability on asset management planning and infrastructural issues are:

Question Purpose
Audit opinions 1 Are we confident that our planning is reliable?
  • Reliable planning supports prudent stewardship of infrastructural assets and the efficient and effective use of resources.
  • Planning is less useful if it is not reliable.
  • It should be based on good quality data, include reasonable assumptions, and identify the finance required to put plans into practice.
2 Have we clearly emphasised our key issues?
  • To play an effective part in public accountability, planning needs to emphasise the key issues.
  • Consultation should focus on the key issues and be supported by planning that clearly identifies what these are. The reasons for their significance and the proposals for dealing with them should be covered in the consultation document.
Asset information 3 Have we assessed the reliability of our asset data?
  • Asset information should be reliable.
  • Reliability should be formally assessed so that decision-makers can have confidence or be clear where there is uncertainty.
4 Have we identified our critical assets?
  • Critical assets are those where there are severe consequences should that asset fail.
  • Naming assets as critical is important so that work to manage and maintain them can be prioritised.
5 Does our data reliability match the significance of the decisions we need to make?
  • Some uncertainty about data is inevitable. Data needs to be reliable enough to support robust decision-making.
  • Routine decisions on simple non-critical assets where there is capacity to react and change strategy if things change can cope with some unreliable data.
  • Modelling the renewal needs of a complex asset network when finances are tight requires much greater data accuracy.
Capital programme doability 6 What is our track record of delivery?
  • Being clear on the track record of delivery can help inform plans.
  • It might indicate that there is a backlog of existing work to get through before starting a new project.
  • It might also show that additional staffing is needed to manage a greater workload.
7 What is the capacity of the local contractor market?
  • Most public sector organisations are highly reliant on the market to carry out their work and deliver on their plans.
  • It is important to understand the volume of work that the local market is geared up to deliver.
8 Are we confident we can deliver our plans?
  • It is important to set an achievable and realistic capital programme that includes a best estimate of the cost and timing of works.
  • A reasonable plan must be capable of implementation.
9 Could we collaborate with our neighbours to gain efficiencies, attract more contractors, or make sure we are not competing with each other?
  • New Zealand has many local authorities and a small pool of contractors to deliver capital projects and maintain infrastructure.
  • There may be scope to smooth the flow of work so that contractors can move from one job to another in neighbouring areas, giving contractors and clients greater certainty. It could help attract competition to some of the more remote areas of the country by providing a pipeline of work, not just one-off projects.
Peer review 10 Do we want independent peer review to challenge our planning and give us confidence that we have got it right?
  • Peer review can be an important part of a robust asset management planning system. It can provide managers with an independent view. It can challenge or provide confidence as to whether AMPs are reasonable.
  • A good peer review needs to be timely. A good peer review can give auditors confidence but only