Problems highlighted by the
Auditor-General in the way the Earthquake Commission had
dealt with homeowners affected by the Canterbury earthquakes
have already been identified and dealt with, the Government
In a report on the commission's management of the home repair
programme, Auditor-General Lyn Provost said the EQC's
performance to date had been "mixed''.
"It has performed well in managing repair costs and setting
the home-repair programme up quickly, but has not performed
as well in dealing with homeowners.''
Ms Provost highlighted a series of issues, including:
- EQC was late in the programme before repair slots were
actively allocated to the homes of vulnerable people;
- Homeowners had experienced inconsistency in information and
processes, and long periods without specific information from
EQC about their claim, leading to a lack of certainty while
waiting for repairs;
- Some homeowners had been dissatisfied, including
dissatisfaction with the quality of repairs or the time taken
to complete the repairs after work started;
- Some important systems, controls and support functions
should have been in place and fully effective sooner,
including controls to help manage risks to repair quality.
But Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee
said all of the problems raised by Ms Provost '' have been
identified a long time ago and have been part of a discussion
and part of EQC's desire to get things sorted out''.
Mr Brownlee said some of the failing's identified by the
Auditor-General were understandable under the circumstances.
"When you're dealing with a work programme like this that has
developed from nothing to be the sort of organisation it's
become I think they've done pretty well.''
In her report, Ms Provost said about 20 per cent of
homeowners who had repairs completed in 2013 were
dissatisfied with the work and if that
proportion was applied to
the entire programme "then the owners of more than 14,000
repaired houses would be dissatisfied or very dissatisfied
with the repairs''.
Repair costs had been "reasonable'' so far, but Ms Provost
said there were risks they would escalate.
"Keeping repair costs at a reasonable level depends on EQC
managing essential controls and systems, staying ahead of the
private insurance and central city repair and rebuild work,
and completing the home-repair programme by the December 2014
deadline set by EQC.''
Ms Provost also noted project management costs associated
with the home repair programme at about 12 per cent so far
were "at the higher end of what we consider reasonable in the
She made five recommendations to the commission including
that it continue to improve its approach to auditing repairs,
that it improve communications with homeowners, that it
refine key performance indicators for the programme, and that
it continue to review and if necessary adjust the
configuration of repair and project management services in
the programme to deliver the best value and results in the
circumstances and treat homeowners fairly and consistently.
Ms Provost also recommended the commission identify and
record the lessons, tools, and information from the programme
to help in the aftermath of future large scale natural
Mr Brownlee said he expected all of the Auditor-General's
recommendations to be picked up.
"Many of them already have been. I think that's the message
that's also in the AG's report.''
Labour's Earthquake Commission spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove
described the report as scathing.
"The Auditor-General's findings that EQC is in disarray are
nothing new to the people of Canterbury. They have been
trying to tell Gerry Brownlee this for years but he has stuck
his fingers in his ears. Mr Brownlee must listen to the
Auditor-General and take action.''
The findings of considerable dissatisfaction with repair work
and was "simply not good enough''.
"Cantabrians wanted to have faith in EQC but they have been
let down. Cantabrians didn't need an Auditor-General report
to tell them how bad things were at EQC. But Gerry Brownlee
does. Maybe now he will accept that, under his watch as
minister, EQC is in disarray.''
- By Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald