Here’s an important question. How do you ‘prove’ that as an organisation you’re going from strength to strength? That you are giving value for money to your clientele? That you are efficient, responsible, and client oriented? Well, for local government we have what is known as the Best Value Reports. The aim of these, according to legislation, is to quantify and prove that you’re on the road to ‘continuous improvement’.

Glen Eira City Council has developed its Best Value reporting into a fine art. They manage to show ‘continuous improvement’ by literally changing the goal posts. For example: there are ‘targets’ set and then actual performance for the year is stated against those targets. Thus, if this year the target for home care building help is 4,500 hours and council achieves 4,788 hours, not only is the target exceeded, but council is an unmitigated success here. Wrong! Because back in 2009/10 the target for this identical service just happened to be 4956 hours and the stated performance was 4,852 hours! Thus 5 years ago council was offering more and doing better than it is today! And remember, we’re supposed to be a municipality with an ageing population and thousands of residents who are entitled to pensioner or disability assistance.

When the 2009/10 Best Value Reports are compared to the 2014/15 version, then we really see how many services have gone backwards and how many goal posts have been shifted in order to gild the lily and to make council appear as wonderful performers. Nothing could be further from the truth on many of the areas listed on this comparison. That should make residents ask the obvious –

  • When council promises in its budgets and council plans that it will maintain the level of service, then why have so many services been reduced?
  • Why, when rates keep going up 6.5% for the past 7 or 8 years, have services gone down? Where is this money going?
  • Why change the goal posts unless the attempt is to camouflage what is really happening?
  • Are we, as residents, really and truly getting value for money?

Here is a mere sample of some of comparisons between the 2009 and the 2015 versions of the Best Value Reports. We’ve upload both HERE (2009/10 and 2014/15) and urge readers to check these for themselves. Please also consider the waffle that constitutes the ‘continuous improvement’ sections and the often meaningless criteria attached to evaluating ‘success’ – such as publishing 4 editions of something.

Once again, it would appear that facts are malleable. If they don’t fit the image you are trying to project, then simply change those facts to accord with the success you need to fabricate. And whilst you’re at it – don’t tell your residents that this is what you are doing. We congratulate Council again on its superb sleight of hand!