It has been a long time coming but Joint Organisations are now here. After the last few years it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to this latest voluntary program of the Office of Local Government.
Joint Organisations have long been seen as a key part of the reform process and an evolution of the existing ROCs. Providing a stronger model for regional collaboration and service delivery, they may offer opportunities to deliver benefits to councils and their ratepayers. It also follows an international trend we are seeing away from local government mergers towards regional solutions tailored to the area and its particular needs.
While the Joint Organisations will have some prescribed functions around establishing regional strategic priorities, regional leadership and inter-governmental cooperation, it is the broader opportunities they offer through the delegation of functions, services and ‘provision of assistance’ that we hope can take the JOs beyond talking shop.
The chart below illustrates that the strategy end of the spectrum delivers the greatest benefits to the community. JOs will need to focus their efforts less on service delivery and more on regional strategy and partnerships to drive economic growth and community development.
One of the important challenges for a successful joint organisation is to have in place a relevant and robust governance structure for the entity operations and decision making processes …… governance maturity is essential.
Morrison Low has worked with councils in NSW and more broadly across Australasia on regional strategic alliances for asset management, joint service delivery business units to improve transport outcomes and shared services for human resources and environmental services. We have assisted councils in collaborative governance and business operational structures.
Councils have until the end of February 2018 to choose their JO partners from those within their relevant NSW planning region. The minimum number for a JO is three councils. The priorities for the JO and how the functions are to be exercised will be crucial to success. State government is providing $3.3m seed funding to support this process. The seed funding allocations will be determined in March, with the new regional bodies to start operating from July 1.