Rodney Hide and Steven Joyce write on accountability to ratepayers.

Transparency and accountability is a key feature of council-controlled organisations. Last week, the Auckland Transition Agency released its proposals for council-controlled organisations under the new Auckland Council.

Contrary to what some have suggested, this is not a new structure. We have plenty of them already - in fact, too many.

That is why the Auckland Transition Agency was asked to review and rationalise these existing wholly owned entities.

There are currently over 300 council-owned or council-funded entities with some form of corporate or business-like structure, spread over the existing eight councils in Auckland.

The Government has already approved three such organisations - Watercare Services, Auckland Transport and the Waterfront Development Agency.

To use transport as an example, this means one agency - Auckland Transport - will replace the nine separate existing transport entities across the city.

The result will be an agency equipped to provide the focus and continuity in decision-making needed to deliver a transport network that supports Auckland's growth and economic success.

This streamlining and simplification is the whole point behind the super city - we are working to improve governance, vision, planning and service delivery.

For too long, Auckland has suffered from a duplication of councils, plans and processes. Even when the regions' councils agreed on an overall vision and way forward, they couldn't agree on implementation of that plan and service delivery to Aucklanders.

That is why we decided to have one council, one mayor, one regional plan and efficient and cost-effective service delivery through, in part, council-controlled organisations.

Much of the interest and discussion of them has focused on those that will be responsible for the waterfront and transport. It is important to be clear about the accountability arrangements that will apply to all these organisations.

The new Auckland Council-controlled organisations will be no different to current ones in their relationship with the council, and they are accountable to the community through the council.

It is the council that sets the objectives and accounts to ratepayers for the performance these organisations. The model includes strong accountability mechanisms between the council and the council-controlled bodies, including an agreed statement of intent with council that will be made public.

There will be regular reporting to the council, audited by the Auditor-General.

The organisations will be required to give effect to Auckland Council plans and they will be monitored by the Auckland Council governance and monitoring unit.

The Auckland Council will appoint board members and have the power to remove them.

The Government expects all these controlled organisations to establish and foster a meaningful relationship with the new local boards for the Auckland region.

In addition to the council's influence, local boards will influence the organisations' activities through local board plans, input into statements of intent and oversight of agreed service delivery levels.

The new Auckland Transport organisation will focus on delivering integrated transport services and functions across the region.

The public will have a say on transport matters through consultation on the transport strategy, funding allocations, the prioritisation of projects through the regional programme and local board plans.

Local boards will feed local priorities into the funding process through local board plans, and must also be consulted on the Regional Land Transport Programme.

Auckland Transport will essentially be a duplication of the NZ Transport Agency, which operates at national level.

While the Government (and in Auckland's case, the council) has oversight and sets priorities, the transport agency is responsible for delivering on those priorities.

In Auckland, the Government and the current local authorities together provide about $1.5 billion a year for Auckland transport.

It is essential that spending is managed effectively and efficiently by a dedicated agency overseen by the Auckland Council with directors who have a specific mandate to deliver on council expectations.

Consultation on the implementation of transport activities will also occur under the Resource Management Act and other regulatory requirements that will impose their disciplines on Auckland Transport, as well as giving process rights to those affected by an activity.

Having one Auckland transport body will provide the focus and continuity in decision-making needed to deliver a transport network that supports Auckland's growth and economic success.

The Waterfront Development Agency has also drawn much comment. Its establishment will provide much needed leadership for revitalising Auckland's CBD waterfront.

It will have no extraordinary powers and no more powers than those that already apply to existing council-controlled organisations through the Local Government Act 2002.

One of the agency's first tasks will be to review and update the vision and plan for the waterfront, working with key stakeholders, and seeking public input.

The Royal Commission report noted that such arms-length agencies are now international best practice.

Around the world, similar agencies have transformed their waterfronts into outstanding places, making a major contribution to the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of those cities. These structures work.

Auckland's controlled organisations will have rigorous accountability checks and monitoring. There will undoubtedly be intense media scrutiny of them and that is only right. Aucklanders will know more about the performance its local government and organisations than ever before.

The Government is totally committed to improving Auckland's governance and service delivery in a transparent and accountable way. We are confident these proposals will make Auckland an even greater city in which to live, play and work.

* Rodney Hide is Minister of Local Government and MP for Epsom. Steven Joyce is Minister of Transport.