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New Integrated Planning and Reporting requirements strengthen and mandate responsibilities

September 2021


The new NSW Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) Guidelines have introduced some new requirements and mandated features of the next IP&R round. A big change is the requirement to link all adopted strategies and plans to the IP&R framework and make provision to include the implementation of strategies in the delivery program and therefore flow into the resourcing strategy. 

This will mean that councils will need to carefully consider orphan strategies, such as strategies adopted by councils but not referenced in actions in the delivery program. We see councils with numerous strategies that don’t have a formally funded implementation strategy in their delivery program. We encourage councils to start with a strategy and policy stocktake analysis to align to the resourcing strategy.

The new guidelines introduce standards, good, better and best, for all of the components of the IP&R framework. This enables councils to develop documents that can be scaled to suit their resources and needs, but it does suggest that councils should consider where they want to be on the maturity scale.

Determining the standard, of good, better or best, for each of the resourcing strategies will be the most influential choice a council makes to ensure the foundation for council’s decision-making is more informed and ultimately sustainable. Morrison Low has been active helping a number of councils establish their financial and asset management maturity and develop improvement plans, as the more mature an organisation is, the better it understands the implications of its major decisions. We encourage all councils to look critically at where they are and need to be, in terms of the good, better, or best standards, to manage resources to deliver services.

The guidelines introduce new mandatory requirements around service review services, service levels and other improvements. These changes should link to the proposed Risk Management and Internal Audit Framework, when adopted. We have worked with a number of councils to review services and while a good proportion of councils do undertake service reviews, a large number do not. When thinking about service reviews, councils’ need to consider the key questions that service reviews should answer:

  • Should this service be delivered to the community?
  • If so, how should it be delivered?
  • Is this service delivering on community needs and council’s goals?
  • Is the service being delivered using the most appropriate service delivery mechanisms?
  • Is the service being delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible?
  • Is the service resourced appropriately?
  • Is the service meeting current service standards and levels?
  • What are the current and future issues affecting the service and what should be done about them?

The new guidelines include a host of other changes and we encourage you to familiarise yourself with them at https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Integrated-Planning-and-Reporting-Guidelines.pdf.

For more information or questions, please contact Stephen Bunting at s.bunting@morrisonlow.com or 0418 124 437.