Risk on the radar

Risk management framework is to be put in place by the Waitaki District Council to safeguard against issues which could arise, including fraud.

The council's finance, audit and risk committee yesterday heard a Dunedin consultant company with expertise in that field, including helping the Dunedin City Council through fraud issues it had faced, would provide the expertise to help formulate the framework.

''We have seen what can happen in Dunedin and elsewhere if we don't get the processes right,'' Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher told the committee.

However, the framework would not only cover financial risks, but others faced by the council.

Chief financial officer Paul Hope said the consultant would evaluate the risks the council faced, assess any weaknesses in its systems and make recommendations to address those.

An action plan would then be produced, including focusing on priorities.

The costs would be met from consultancy budgets.

''Various events'' over the last few years had prompted calls for local authorities to develop a more comprehensive and structured approach to identifying, assessing and mitigating risks, Mr Hope said. That was far broader than just financial risk.

There appeared to be no constant approach within local authorities and there was a tendency to overreact and focus on a risk that had occurred rather than taking a broader view, he said.

Mr Kircher said local government seemed to be far behind the private sector in that area and had started to address the issue only in the last couple of years.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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