The five business units that run 75 per cent of services for the Super City are under the microscope after a high-level review was approved by Auckland councillors today.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff's independent review of the five council-controlled organisations received unanimous support by councillors at the governing body.
The review, expected to cost between $500,000 and $800,000, will focus on three key areas - the effectiveness of the CCO model, the accountability mechanisms between CCOs and the council, and the culture of CCOs.
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The review was one of Goff's few election promises for a second term and follows growing frustrations by Aucklanders at the behaviour of the CCOs, and Auckland Transport in particular.
Goff shares public concerns about whether CCOs can be held accountable, putting them on notice they could be abolished or downsized this term.
After nearly 10 years of the Super City, he said it was appropriate for a council-led review of the CCOs and "say, how is it working for us", Goff said today.
Councillor Chris Darby said the problems with CCOs was part of a broader disquiet about the whole of the council, which came through at October's local body elections when 65 per cent of people did not vote.
The review will provide for public input and CCO staff to make their views known in confidence. Councillor Wayne Walker said it was essential to have some kind of whistle-blower facility.
Councillor Desley Simpson summed up a commonly held view: "If there is one word I'm hearing on the streets it's problems with CCOs."
Councillor Richard Hills admitted he, too, gets frustrated at times with CCOs, but spoke out against abuse of CCO staff by elected members and the council not backing them after asking them to implement decisions on issues like cycleways and safety improvements.
Councillor Daniel Newman said: "Real reform starts with winding up Regional Facilities Auckland, Panuku and ATEED."
The Auckland Marine Users Association addressed councillors about its concerns with the behaviour of the CCOS, in particular Panuku Development Auckland, which manages the council's marinas.
Spokesman Euan Little said Panuku's failure at consultation and "unsavoury behaviour" towards anyone who raises questions needs to be closely looked at in the review.
He said the three-member independent panel may not have the depth of expertise to address the "hairy" issues, saying a five-member panel would be more beneficial.
The wide-ranging review has a tight timeframe to be completed by the end of July next year to allow time for any changes to be considered in the new 10-year budget in 2021. The appointment of the three-member panel is set down for next month.
The five CCOs - Auckland Transport; Watercare; Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED); Regional Facilities Auckland and Panuku Development Auckland - run 75 per cent of council services and account for 55 per cent of the council's operational budget.