Business approach at Circular Head

Having decided not to wait for changes under National Competition Policy to be forced upon it, Circular Head Council in Tasmania has set up its outdoor workforce as a competitive Business Unit.

Located in north west Tasmania, Circular Head has a staff of 45 serving a population of 8,160. Council's Business Unit comprising 28 staff has been constructed to conform to commercial principles. This includes full operational responsibility and autonomy being vested in managers, full costing of works, incorporation of business and marketing plans, performance measurement indicators and establishing best practice and benchmarking.

The Unit is able to compete both internally and externally for work and is required to present an annual report. It is an excellent example of how a small Council can create a more competitive work environment.

During the planning and establishing of the Business Unit, elected members were kept fully informed of progress and approved policy for its operation. It was agreed that the Unit would receive preferred contractor status for a period of five years. To date, seven maintenance contracts renewable on an annual basis have been won. Performance criteria have been built into all contracts.

"In setting up the Business Unit, Council believes it has provided staff with the best means of competing effectively when services are opened up to the scrutiny of competition on the open market," said Paul Arnold, General Manager. "Results already show improved efficiency and productivity, a changed work culture and a higher than expected profit."

Employee involvement in the process has meant not only a more flexible and more efficient workforce but a considerable saving in insurance costs with a marked decline in accidents.

For further information contact Paul Arnold, General Manager, telephone (03) 6452 1265.