To be accountable to rate payers and the community, local government Councillors should ensure that their Administration is compliant with Quality Standards ISO 9001 and ISO 18091.
There is a new Quality Standard for Local Government ISO 18091:2019 Quality management systems — Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2015 in local government, which all local Councils should embrace.
This article outlines the benefits of Council administration implementing ISO 9001 Quality Standard in accordance with ISO 18091 Local Government Quality Management Systems Guideline Standard.
Performance, accountability and ‘value for money’ for ratepayers are fundamental to good local government. Yet, local Councillor decision-makers can’t always know whether their administration arm is performing efficiently and effectively, despite anecdotal evidence (such as negative feedback from ratepayers, delays in projects, cost blow-outs and costly service delivery) often suggesting otherwise.
What can Councillors do to have confidence that their administration is providing high quality standards of service delivery that are legislative compliant and meet Australian and international benchmarking standards?
Governments around the world and the more progressive Councils throughout Australia are recognising that ISO 18091:2019 Quality Management Systems Guideline Standard for local government allows them to use ISO 9001:2015 Quality Standards as a benchmark standard for Council administration, providing Councillors with confidence that their administration’s management systems:
- are the same quality performance standards/benchmarks as top performing companies in the private sector;
- are providing consistently high levels of service delivery in terms of meeting defined quality outcomes;
- are increasing efficiency/not wasting taxpayers money;
- provide opportunities for review and service optimisation;
- Risk management including identification, analysis, evaluation, treatment, implementation, communication, monitoring and reporting
- improve resource allocation, by ensuring that resource allocation is proportional to assessed risk, preserving accountability for the way in which public funds are used;
- control outsourcing of goods and services, ensuring value for money, and service delivery/operational efficiency;
- control fraud, corruption, bribery and conflicts of interest;
- provides a means of measuring and evaluating administration’s performance;
- improves Council administration’s responsiveness and capacity for meeting community expectations;
- facilitate continuity planning and knowledge management;
- provide a quality system structure for change management;
- is auditable in accordance with ISO 19011:2018 Auditing Standard against ISO 18091:2019 Quality management systems — Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2015 in local government; and
- identify opportunities for continual improvement.
NOTE: Due to the risks facing local government, we recommend that Quality Management Systems be developed in alignment with AS 8001:2008 Fraud and Corruption Control Standard and ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management Standard.
Certification to ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems demonstrates local governments are committed to efficiently delivering the best possible services to their ratepayers and the community, and that they have robust systems in place to provide a framework for managing changes, addressing risk and facilitating continual improvement.
How QAS International can help
QAS International consultants’ specialist knowledge and experience can help local governments by providing consultancy services to help design, implement and internally audit a Quality Management System to comply with ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems.
Our trained and experienced consultants have, over the last 26 years, achieved Certification for our clients with a 100% track record – certified by a JAS-ANZ accredited Certification Body.
Contact Us Today
If you’d like more information, please use the form to the right and one of our consultants will contact you within one business day. Alternatively, you are welcome to contact us directly on 1800 676 910 or by emailing [email protected]
We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you may have. CLICK HERE for a copy of our Capability Statement.
Key “Quality, Safety and Environmental Criteria” that are often missed and not really well understood by Council administration.
Key things that are often missed, which have a detrimental affect on goods and service delivery, and contribute to inefficiencies, duplication/re-works and unacceptable delays, and damage to Council reputation:
- Outcomes/results/deliverables and outputs not being clearly defined and documented as measurable Quality, Safety and/or Environmenta” criteria, which is compliant with relevant legislation, Australian and industry Standards . The importance of identifying and documenting measurable outcomes/results/deliverables and outputs needs to be understood internally, such that measurable outcomes/results/deliverables’ and outputs can be included in Council contracts.
- Inappropriate and unilateral application of Risk Severity (meaning that risk assessments are not undertaken properly or are undertaken by those who have not been trained in risk assessment and management), which results in mismanagement of resources, over-resource allocation to low risk activities and events and poor utilisation of limited budget resources.
- Lack of performance monitoring, measurement and evaluation (against defined and documented Quality”, “Safety” and “Environmental” criteria ‘Outcomes’/‘results’/‘deliverables’ and ‘outputs’ criteria) will:
- identify whether administration staff and contractors are meeting their employment and contractual obligations (ie, performing well);
- identify whether administration staff and contractors are not meeting their contractual obligations (ie, underperforming); and
- allow underperforming service delivery aspects to be risk assessed – to determine “so what should be done in terms of corrective action” and “how soon should it be done, based on risk significance of the non-conformity/non-compliance”
- Contracts not containing both output and outcome performance indicators that are measurable.
How well are you doing? To be accountable to rate payers, Council needs to be able to establish/measure whether or not the output and outcome objectives and associated performance indicators for each area of goods and service delivery administration have been achieved.
How do we know how well we are doing? Apart from Budget financials, Council often
has little idea of how well Administration is doing in terms of “Quality”, “Safety” and “Environmental” performance, because measurable
and auditable criteria is often absent, or not well defined and documented.
What can we improve?
Councillors could not reasonably be able to get a measure of administration’s performance as, inefficient and ineffective goods and service delivery is difficult to measure unless an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System is documented, implemented and maintained.
Council administration needs to be mindful of and understand the importance of key ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System fundamentals, such as:
- the importance of clearly defined and documented outcomes and outputs – what are the outcomes and outputs for each area of Council business and associated quality criteria?
- are the outcomes and outputs measurable – what are their performance measures (for the outcomes and outputs)?
- how well are we doing (in achieving the quality outcomes and outputs)?
- how do we know how well we are doing (who, how and when/frequency of measurement) – data analysis and trends?
- have the non-achievement of outcomes and outcomes been risk assessed (by whom, when and where is this recorded) and who is monitoring whether the approved and documented risk control measures are being met/delivered/complied with?
- what can we improve and what are we doing about it (where are the improvement opportunities being recorded)?
- where there are affiliations and partnership agreements, and when services are outsourced, have the non-achievement of deliverables by the other party or the external service providers contracted deliverables been risk assessed and can their non-achievement impact on Council’s outcomes/contract deliverables and result in consequential damage to Council’s reputation?
- what does the Quality Standard specify that Council administration must do regarding external service provider performance monitoring (the higher the residual risk the higher the level of performance monitoring required – is there evidence of this) and what action must be taken for underperforming affiliates/partners or service providers?
Control of Service Provision ISO 9001 Clause 8.5.1
Council shall implement/provide products and service under controlled conditions. Controlled conditions shall include:
- the availability of documented information that defines:
- the characteristics of the products to be produced and services to be provided or the activities to be performed, and
- the results to be achieved,
- the availability and use of suitable monitoring and measuring resources,
- the implementation of monitoring and measuring activities at appropriate stages to verify that criteria for control of processes or outputs and acceptance criteria for products and services have been met, and
- the validation and periodic revalidation of the ability to achieve planned results of the processes for service provision where the resulting output cannot be verified by subsequent monitoring or measurement.
- Often Councils don’t have an effective management system to identify and control/risk mitigate potential fraud, bribery and corruption risks. The administration CEO and senior management should have a fraud, bribery and corruption control plan, and associated risk assessment checklist, including an annual risk assessment process and audit verification of controls, investigation procedures, and notifications, with CEO reporting to council regularly on what controls they have in place, and confirmation that they are being monitored and are effectively implemented and audited for compliance – to give Councillors confidence that there are effective controls in place to:
- identify potential fraud, bribery and corruption risk areas; and
- control potential fraud, bribery and corruption.
It is noted that, most, but not all Councils have in place a robust financial reporting system which facilitates receipt and review of monthly Management Financial Report including variance at cost centre level, general ledger, YTD analysis, and reporting of exceptions – for accounts management; including solvency, debtor and creditor, revenue and cash flow, acquittals and monthly variances; segregation of functions or duties, to ensure that no one person can be in a position to control sufficient stages of processing a single or stream of transactions; with transactions, offers and other representations which are made on behalf of Council are checked and validated by at least one other competent and authorised person; and a process for the identification and management of real or perceived conflicts of interest associated with supplier/staff relationships; with effective delegations existing for transaction limits, designed to ensure that:
- there is a system for separating key duties for banking and account transactions and account reconciliations balance is achieved between operational efficiency and appropriate controls over financial expenditure;
- transactions are appropriate and authorised, and no fictitious transactions are recorded; and
- all transactions can be readily audited, if and when required.