Auditor-General Ticks Off NZTA


NZTA got a ticking off from the Auditor-General saying it needs to improve the quality and completeness of its asset information, particularly for structural assets such as bridges, tunnels, and retaining walls.

The official’s report also says NZTA needs to more systematically focus planning for maintenance and renewal work on the most important areas.

“NZTA had good descriptive and condition information about the state highway roads, and it had a planning framework that enabled it to use this information for day-to-day maintenance and renewal of the road network. However, not all of its information was complete, especially for structures such as bridges and tunnels. Its long-term planning was also incomplete at the time of our audit. NZTA is aware of these issues and has been working to address them.’ reads the report.

Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Officer Ken Shirley calls it a wake up call and says transport operators will be very disappointed but not surprised .

“The Government has significantly increased the funding going into New Zealand’s roads but even so there is just not enough money to make all the improvements and upgrades required to give the country the roading network it needs.

“So it is essential that the Transport Agency has a thorough grasp of the quality of its network to make sure the funding which is available is spent as wisely and effectively as possible. ”

NZTA produced its latest report on the condition of the network in 2009. The report showed that the condition of the network met the expected levels of service – but it also concluded that some levels of service were just holding steady over time and that, nationally, the network continued to show signs of deterioration caused by rutting.

The Auditor-General’s report said that NZTA, along with overseas roading authorities, does not yet have an effective model available for monitoring deterioration in the condition of bridges and other structural assets.

Relying on personal knowledge (which depends on retaining skilled and experienced personnel) restricts NZTA’s ability to accurately plan for the longer term, because there is a risk that important knowledge is lost when people move on.

“It is important that NZTA has the asset information that it needs to make sensible and informed investment decisions about the whole network. NZTA needs to clarify which information is critical for asset management purposes, and make sure that consultants and contractors collect and maintain critical information in a timely way.”

The report says that NZTA’s overarching levels of service for maintaining road pavement (in relation to roughness, rutting, skid resistance, and surface texture) are comparable with those of similar overseas roading authorities. But, in our view, its underlying levels of service for pavement maintenance (for example, response time for filling potholes) and for corridor maintenance need to be better informed by the needs of road users to ensure that the service levels are well aligned with road users’ expectations.

“NZTA needs to clarify how it determines levels of service, and it needs to continue to actively engage with road users and work with its Board. This will help the Board make well-informed decisions about allocating and investing funding from the National Land Transport Fund.”

NZTA said in response to the report that it’s  committed to preparing and implementing a national asset management plan for all activities and this will include annual feedback from road users.  The audit findings can be incorporated into its current work programme.





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