lgi.vic.gov.au

Information and Communications Technology

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a key area in which value for money can be achieved. The Inspectorate recommends Councils regularly review their phone and data plans and seek out better value plans and more cost-effective technology solutions. ICT is also a key area in which councillor needs can be better met by monitoring use to ensure current plans are tailored towards usage needs.

The councillor ICT expenses for the 2017/18 financial year reported to the Inspectorate showed great variation in the amount spent by councils on ICT for councillors. While councils most commonly spent between $5,000 and $10,000 on ICT for councillors annually (37% of surveyed councils), 10% reported spending upwards of $25,000. Table 1 shows spending on ICT for councillors across council groupings.

The difference in spend can be attributed to the variation between councils in relation to ICT hardware provided to their councillors (usually based on individual preference of councillors) and what ICT plans they use (usually based on location i.e. because of reception, and usage habits).

For example, in response to the survey, one regional council reported that given they do not have full network coverage across their municipality, staff work individually with councillors to best meet their phone and data requirements for their local area. Several councils reported they provide broadband access only for one or two councillors where reception is poor, while another council meets the landline costs for one councillor in a mobile blackspot.

Table 1: ICT as % of total councillor expenses
Council
classification
Councillor
ICT expenses
Total councillor
expenses
ICT as % of total
councillor expenses
ICT expenses on a per
councillor basis per year
Large Shire $130,953 $1,019,982 13% $897
Metropolitan $317,175 $1,056,553 30% $1,570
Regional $68,695 $346,460 20% $1,073
Small Shire $61,667 $407,125 15% $611
Interface $144,926 $693,591 21% $1,628

A further explanation of the difference in councillor ICT spend is the variation in council reporting of expenses is covered in section 5.2 of this report. For example, some councils included councillor ICT expenses in their council ICT budget, instead of apportioning it as a councillor expense.

ICT expenses average by council

Recommendations

  • Councils should regularly review their councillors’ mobile phone and data plans and investigate alternatives, in order to achieve cost savings.
  • Councils should engage with MAV procurement for guidance regarding their ICT contracts and should explore the possibility of moving to a TPAMS contract to see if it will achieve costs savings.
  • Councils should regularly review their councillors’ phone and data usage to ensure the adequacy of the plans.
  • For councillors who have elected to use their own handsets and seek reimbursement, councils should regularly monitor usage to prevent inappropriate reimbursement for private use.

Case study

  • A large shire council analysed their councillors’ mobile phone and tablet (iPad or other device) bills for a 12-month period. All councillors were on the same plan. The review showed call expenses and data usage varied greatly across the councillors.

    Plans were proposed for each councillor tailored towards their usage patterns. For example, those with greater data usage were placed on unlimited plans to counter fees for excess usage.

    The switch from all councillors being on the same plan to plans suited to their individual usage resulted in an approximate 20% saving on mobile phone and tablet costs.

Reviewed 16 October 2020

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