Having been fully mandated in New Zealand since 1996, the municipalities have no choice but comply with the preparing the asset management plan, Ross said.
Ross shared that in New Zealand they have observed the following compliance behavior:
- Fifteen to 20 percent of the municipalities said, “Great! Asset management, where have you been in my life?” “Yes, I really like it. Managements and governance have seen the benefits and they just jump in and get on with them and do it very, very well.”
- Somewhere between 60 to 70 percent said, “Yes, we know we’re going to do this.” And they do a pretty honest attempt but they’re not going to lead the way, they’re not leading the pack. They just get on and do a good solid data collection,and stay with the management programs and other requirements.
- The bottom 15 percent have been observed to only pay lip service (the problem most places will have). They only go saying, “If we’ve got to do this, we don’t believe in it. We’re just going to do the minimum compliance.”
This bottom 15 percent of any organisation, network, municipality or memberships drag the chain, make mistakes, and they have all sorts of problems, and then whoever the regulator is feels the need to regulate – to deal with that bottom 15 present, explained Ross.
He added that the trouble is that you can never make a regulation just for them. So you end up making the regulation for everybody but effectively with the bottom 15 percent of your industry ending up setting the requirements of the regulatory framework.
It’s a bit like criminal law. If there were no criminals, we wouldn’t need all of the laws. So it’s the bottom that always sets the legislative or regulatory framework.
Ross shared that this is the same dynamic in play – with people who would loudly complain about changes in tariffs or rates. You never hear from the 85 or 90 percent who can see the need, and will pay the charges without comment. It’s really interesting to think how regulations change to suit the bottom five or even one percent that are “jumping up and down and make lots of noise”.
In meeting the challenges of regulatory change it is helpful to be aware of this dynamic and also be aware that the 15-20 percent of authorities, or municipalities or water districts who are well engaged with infrastructure asset management won’t struggle to comply with the regulations.
This is one of the advantages of a good infrastructure asset management program – you are well prepared to manage changes that come along.
Ross posed the challenge, what do you do to sustain compliance despite knowing there are some percentages who aren’t.