Auditor-General: Managing the school property portfolio
Auditor-General's report, Managing the school property portfolio
The Auditor-General’s report Managing the school property portfolio was presented to the House of Representatives today.
The school property portfolio is one of the largest publicly owned portfolios of property assets. It is also arguably the most complex. Although the Crown owns school property and the Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for its management, some of the responsibilities for managing school property rest with school boards of trustees.
For this report, we looked at the effectiveness of the Ministry’s property strategy and the Ministry’s role as an asset manager.
The Ministry has considerably strengthened its approach to managing school property in the last 10 years. Education Infrastructure Services (a Ministry business unit set up in 2013) has increased the Ministry’s capacity and capability in property management. However, there is room for further improvement.
We consider that the Ministry needs to better integrate its property function with the rest of its core business. In the Ministry’s accountability documents there is only limited consideration of property matters and no direct link to how good property management can positively affect educational outcomes.
We noted the following factors that may prevent the Ministry making the best use of the funds available:
• We saw no evidence that the Ministry uses its whole-of-portfolio view of the condition of school property for decision-making. Instead, it has relied on its staff putting business cases forward for the schools most in need of investment.
• The property funding given directly to schools for annual maintenance and renewals does not consider the type, age, condition, or use of buildings, so does not take account of actual maintenance needs.
We also asked a small sample of schools for their views on school property matters and the support the Ministry gives them. Schools have a limited understanding of the Ministry’s property strategy, but are generally clear on their day-to-day responsibilities for managing school property. However, most schools we talked to felt they needed more training and support in property matters. Property is an important part of the school boards’ and principals’ role, and they need to be better equipped to carry out this role.
Our report includes eight recommendations for the Ministry.
A two-page summary of this report is also available.