Adjustments improve upon ‘more ad hoc process’

Sandy Graham.
Sandy Graham.
Adjustments to the Dunedin City Council’s chief executive appraisal committee improve upon "a more ad hoc process" run under previous councils, the city’s mayor says.

The operation of the committee has been a point of contention — particularly the validity of informal "check-ins" — and there has lately been a push to tighten up on procedure and realign the calendar.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich, the committee’s chairman, defended what had been run under his watch for keeping chief executive Sandy Graham accountable.

"Our approach is consistent with that used in 2023 but improves on what was — under previous councils — a more ad hoc process," Mr Radich said.

This would ensure the chief executive performance appraisal process remained fit for purpose into the future, he said.

Committee deputy chairwoman Sophie Barker — who raised concerns last month about committee procedure — has this year pushed for changes to promote better accountability and transparency.

"It’s about creating a more robust process," she said.

The last annual review for Ms Graham was held in September last year and Mr Radich signalled it would happen later next time to fit better with the calendar year.

He has said he had a check-in with the chief executive in January, but Cr Barker and Cr Jim O’Malley last month doubted such an informal meeting should be considered proper process.

The Otago Daily Times is unaware of any minutes taken.

The council’s committee structure and delegations manual says meetings of the committee happen every three months.

Mr Radich said the process was "designed to happen quarterly and includes a mix of annual reviews, other meetings and check-ins".

"There is no statutory requirement for quarterly meetings, but our three-monthly regime needs to be flexible to align with other important council business," he said.

The next committee meeting was advertised to be held tomorrow.

Such meetings are not held in public.

The agenda for this week’s meeting includes setting key performance indicators and confirming confidential minutes from the meeting in September last year.

Mr Radich said the upcoming meeting would focus on priorities and performance indicators for the financial year ahead.

Plans for what have been called the third quarter — expected to land about September this time — had yet to be determined.

Mr Radich confirmed a consultant helped with the previous annual review and said the committee would consider using a consultant for the next annual review.

"This will be reported to council in due course," he said.

Mr Radich said last month all councillors had received regular updates since last September.

Asked about this, councillors did not verify the statement, but council staff provided support for it.

Cr David Benson-Pope said he could not find "claimed communication about this issue".

A council staff member advised "there does not appear to be any further information that has been sent by staff to councillors on this matter".

However, another staff member said there had been four updates on the appointment of a consultant.

"These were in October and November 2023 and January and April 2024 via the non-public actions list," a council spokesman said.

"These updates are reported to councillors in the non-public parts of full council meetings."