Auditor-General pings Government on poor planning portal

22 June 2022

The NSW Auditor-General has slammed the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government’s planning portal finding the Department of Planning and Environment overcooked its value and “cannot yet demonstrate that the portal has achieved overall financial benefits…”

The Auditor-General’s 37-page report speaks for itself finding that the planning portal has:
 

  • Shortcomings in the department's initial planning and management of the program led to a significant time overrun
  • The department did not provide time contingency in the project schedules
  • The department now has a clear view of the scope necessary to finalise the program, but has not yet published the services it plans to implement in 2022 and 2023
  • Mandating the portal's use for all development applications changed the program's strategic risk environment, but the department kept its overall delivery approach the same
  • The portal has delivered financial benefits but reported benefits are overstated.

 
The Auditor-General’s report found that capital expenditure for the ePlanning program was $119.6 million from July 2013 to December 2021 – a cost blow out of $38.5 million or 47.5 per cent.
 
By the time the program is scheduled for completion in 2023, it will have taken 10 years and around $146 million in capital expenditure to implement the portal. 
 
There have been many complaints about the use of the planning portal with councils, planners, architects, builders, and certifiers describing it as a “bureaucratic nightmare”.
 
The NSW Liberal and National Government has been found out by the independent umpire to have overcooked the benefits of the portal, presided over a significant cost blowout, and has yet to show there are overall financial benefits for the planning portal.
 
The Government should immediately agree to implementing all of the Auditor-General’s recommendations by December 2022.