Asset Budgets and Transparency

Editor:  You can find earlier posts on budgets, by using the search function, and all posts by Mark by selecting his name.

Further to my earlier posts about asset budgets, I couldn’t help but want to have another go at this by asking a slightly different set of questions. These relate to the principle of transparency.

By transparency I mean:

Is there a clear and documented basis for the estimates upon which the asset budget has been based?

  • Are the estimates based on ‘simple’ or ‘averaged’ projections of expenditure rather than ‘modelled’ projections that emulate realistic timings and patterns of expenditure for the nature of the works involved and how they will be procured?
  • Is it based on estimates for all assets over the full period that the budget is meant to address? By all I really mean a schedule that lists all of the assets, including those for which a $NIL expenditure is forecast for the relevant period. (I ask this as a check that all assets have been given consideration.)
  • Are the underlying assumptions documented and made clear to those being asked to approve the budget – especially the reliability / sensitivity of rates used and associated finance costs?
  • Are the priorities inherent and sequencing / pace of the proposed works also made clear and demonstrably aligned with corporate business and services priorities for the forecast period? How does this align with projected cashflow requirements and funding availability? (A projection showing a skewed acceleration of expenditure towards the final quarter must raise concerns – not only about reliability of delivery, but also in relation to business and services priorities being effectively supported, and in relation to getting value for money from what is going to be spent.)
  • Are the risks that are inherent to the portfolio and the proposed program delivery made clear and ‘current’ for the immediate and forecast context of the program and its delivery?

If these aspects are not transparent to the decision-makers then there is greater risk that the program will not be delivered and the budget will be nowhere near accurate

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