A governing body should involve a good mix of people and skills in order to provide a variety of viewpoints and ideas. Changing the makeup of those involved over the years is advised in order to avoid a ‘sameness’ and the risk of being unwilling to look at new opportunities. It can also be helpful to have someone independent of the organisation involved to provide an external perspective which isn’t based on potential financial or personal gain.
For some organisations it can be a good idea to form an advisory board on specialist issues (such as safety) with people who can bounce ideas around, evaluate and then present information to the governing body.
A governing body must exercise good governance and should also have a good understanding of:
While there are a number of issues a governing body must focus on, one of the main priorities should always be safety, which is essentially preventing injuries to staff, volunteers, visitors and passengers.
Setting out the schedules for maintenance, track inspections, training and certifications are all basic requirements for a safety management system and should be referenced by the safety case. The areas that the governing body should be focusing on include:
The governing body is also responsible for ensuring that all business objectives and policies work well as a whole. By having oversight of the organisation’s financial, production and safety policies, the governing body can ensure they’re complementary and that the targets are realistic as a package. Conflicts of priority shouldn’t be left to workers to sort out.
For more information on expectations as per the Railways Act, see our ‘So far as is reasonably practicable’ page.
In order to determine if a governing body is carrying out its function and purpose adequately, it is good governance practice to regularly assess performance. This is not in terms of whether the organisation has had a good year, or whether a formal requirements checklist has been satisfied, it’s about assessing the wider issue of performance.
To do this, consideration of the following is recommended 1:
1 www.governancenz.org(external link) – Good Governance Guide 1.1