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Article originally published on nanaimodailynews.com
Let's hope city officials were paying attention.
We've been on record as agreeing with the notion of a core review for the City of Nanaimo.
One of the main rationales for such a process is the distinct lack of trust from the community toward previous regimes, both out front and behind the scenes. As mentioned, if transparency truly is a goal, then the easiest way to start is with a full core review.
Given city council now appears more amenable to launch said core services review, the Daily News talked with an expert in the field to find out more about the process. Bill Reid, a senior director of advisory services through audit and accounting firm MNP, has completed several reviews with governments across Canada.
He says the city should plan carefully how it intends to approach the exercise before launching into the process.
"'Core review' is a term now that has a bit of baggage to it, depending on how it's approached," said Reid, who has 20 years of experience in the field.
He's exactly right there. Critics of the process are quick to point out its cost, plus the "unspoken" notion that they are simply going to be used as a guide to cut services.
Reid said the main focuses to incorporate into a core review include program "relevance" - whether a program or service offered by the organization is still needed or is already being offered by another level of government or group - and "effectiveness," or whether a program is producing the desired results.
Well, it's not hard to imagine any process like this uncovering irrelevancies and ineffectiveness within our system.
So in that case, the money spent on the process will likely be worth it.
As newly elected Coun. Jerry Hong explained last month, spending $100,000 on a core review isn't out of line given the $200-million budget The key now is making sure it is done correctly. Coun. Bill Bestwick, who got the ball rolling shortly after the November elections by announcing his intention to bring forward a motion regarding a review, was adamant proper planning be a huge part of the equation.
Undertaking a review without adequate planning, he said, could lead to a failed outcome where none of the recommendations that come out of the process are ultimately adopted.
Reid said an increasingly popular route is to pursue a 'hybrid' approach where an outside firm completes certain portions of the project in partnership with an organization.
He said he favours a mixed approach to a review but said another important issue a client must tackle is what the exercise actually aims to accomplish.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay has said he favours a 'hybrid' approach with direct input from residents on which city services they want and how much resources should be allocated to each.
So at the very least, there already seems to be a good idea of the direction officials want to pursue.
Reid says he finds the success of the reviews come down to the prep work, plus a clear understanding of how recommendations stemming from the process are put into place. We have long believed this city requires a full core review. It's also a city that has struggled at times to see projects achieve desired goals. This process must be done properly.
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