NOW The community can expect increased transparency to the council’s plans and performance. Council staff can expect the impact of their work will be clearly reported to council’s management team, councillors and the community. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect they will be provided with clear and accurate reports on council operations to enable them to make appropriate strategic and policy decisions on behalf of the community. 4.6 POLICIES AND PROCEDURES Contemporary local governments operate under a framework of formally approved strategic policies and operational procedures. In general, policies set WHAT should be done and, being strategic, are approved by the elected representatives at a formal council meeting. Procedures prescribe HOW it will be done and, being operational in nature, are approved by the CEO. It is entirely reasonable for Ipswich residents and ratepayers to expect your council to have up-to-date strategic policies that set directions for council operations, and for CEO- approved procedures to be in place that ensure the policies will be delivered with due process and care. BEFORE ADMINISTRATION Prior to administration, council’s approach to the development of policies and procedures was ad-hoc, inconsistent and uncoordinated. Council leaders and staff lacked a common understanding of the definitions of policies and procedures across areas of council. There was a lack of clarity around the definition of councillors’ roles with many operational items requiring council or councillor sign off. This was far from “the norm” when it comes to local government practice. Previous policy documents were unclear or ambiguous which brought about a lack of adherence, limited guidance, and little if any consequences for breaching these policies. Council policies also lacked a strong connection to the organisation’s strategic priorities and included many historical documents that did not accurately reflect current or desired work practices. Across council, there was a lack of awareness or appreciation for the purpose of a policy and relevant policy processes, with limited resources available to guide development and ensure adherence. SUPPORTING LINK: Ipswich.qld.gov.au/about_council/ corporate_publications
WHAT WE DID The outcomes of a Transformation Project team were as follows: A cross-council approach was designed to focus on better practice, clarity and genuine engagement in the process; New templates and frameworks that reflect best practice approaches to development, review and monitoring were created; Priority policies and procedures that contained references to councillors’ involvement in operational areas were identified for immediate review. These policies have now been amended, repealed and updated; The remainder of the procedures and policies will be transferred to new templates as per the review process; Resources were developed and training conducted to educate staff about this new approach to policy development; and The policy and procedural search functionality on internal and external websites has been considerably improved. Prior to administration, council had 214 policies. The above process of reviewing and redefining policies resulted in:
137 policies have been repealed;
18 policies have been amended/updated; and
61 new policies have been adopted.
There are still a few policies under review and will be presented to council in the near future.
NOW The community can expect clear contemporary policies endorsed by council that set the strategic agenda and expectations of the council. Council staff can expect clarity and guidance in policies and procedures that will enable them to deliver services to deliver on the strategy set by council. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect to come into an organisation with a suite of contemporary policies that outline the strategic intent for services delivery, council management and councillor conduct.