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This page relates to the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme.


All Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency employees and contractors with delegations need to consider the significance of every decision before the decision is made. The significance policy helps you assess if you need to elevate the decision to ensure it’s made at the appropriate level.

This document sets out Waka Kotahi policy in relation to a “significance” threshold with respect to the delegation of functions and powers.

Background and coverage

On 6 May 2016, the Board approved a revised Board Delegation, which updated and refreshed Waka Kotahi delegation principles, decision making process and factors to be assessed when considering the significance of any decision being made under delegated authority.

This policy applies to all Waka Kotahi employees and contractors who have functions or powers delegated to them.

Delegation principles

The delegation principles set out in the Board Delegation apply.


  • Delegation principles

    The delegation principles set out in the Board Delegation are summarised below:

    • Appropriate level – decision making is delegated to the level where accountability, business efficiency and the risk mitigation related to the exercise of that decision are optimised.
    • Significance – delegates must consider the significance of each decision in accordance with this policy; to ensure no surprises, it is better to err on the side of caution where a delegate is unsure of its significance.
    • Escalation – delegates may need to inform or consult with someone at a higher level in the organisation, or elevate the making of the actual decision, due to the potential significance of the decision.
    • Accountability – delegates must understand and acknowledge their accountability in exercising decisions; managers are also accountable for monitoring the exercise and effectiveness of that delegated power.
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Decision making process

Where a delegate has a function or power delegated to them, the delegate must follow a specific process.


  • Decision making process

    Where a delegate has a function or power delegated to them, the delegate must follow this process:

    • Assess: Assess the significance of the decision by referring to the assessment factors listed below. Where the decision satisfies one or more of the assessment factors, this is likely to mean the decision is significant, depending upon the degree of application (for example, whether the degree of public interest or media coverage in relation to an issue is local, regional or national).
    • Escalation process: If the delegate believes the function or power is significant, or there is any doubt about whether the function or power is significant, the delegate must refer the matter to the delegate’s manager before making a decision. This referral may take the form of the following options:
      • Inform: Advise their manager of their intention to make the decision, noting the particular facts and circumstances that may make it significant.
      • Consult: Actively seek their manager’s views, and take those into account, before making the decision.
      • Elevate: Transfer responsibility for the exercise of the decision to a higher organisational level.
    • Elevate: The relevant instrument of delegation may indicate who the decision maker should be if a decision is considered to be significant (for example, as specified in the “Interested Parties” column in Schedule 1 of the Board Delegation). However, if that is not the case, the delegate’s manager may decide to make the decision or to elevate the decision further (for example, to a Group Manager, the Chief Executive or the Board).
    • Code of Conduct: Anyone exercising a delegated power or function is subject to Waka Kotahis Code of Conduct.
    • Conflict of interest: Where a delegate has an actual or potential conflict of interest, the processes set out in the Code of Conduct must be followed.
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Assessment factors

This is a subjective process and there is likely to be a high degree of judgement required when assessing the significance of a particular decision. As noted above, to ensure no surprises, where a decision maker is unsure whether or not to escalate a decision, it is better to err on the side of caution and escalate to a higher organisational level.


  • Factors to take into account

    In making the assessment, the following factors should be taken into account:

    • Reputation / public interest. To what extent is the public interested in the matter? Is it likely to be regarded as controversial? Is the decision likely to result in negative media coverage? Is the decision likely to have a negative impact on Waka Kotahi reputation and/or adversely impact stakeholders’ confidence in Waka Kotahi?
    • Service delivery. To what extent could the exercise of the decision impact on the capability of Waka Kotahi to achieve its goals and objectives and/or the capacity of Waka Kotahi to perform its functions?
    • Financial impact. Are you aware of all of the costs associated with the decision? Are the costs clearly within any financial parameters of your delegated authority? (For example, not all delegates may authorise capital expenditure.)
    • Environmental and other impacts. To what extent does the decision involve environmental, cultural or social impacts that need to be taken into account?
    • Precedent effect. Is the decision likely to create a precedent that has the potential to affect how other similar decisions might be made in the future? Or is the decision unique or unusual – for example, no similar issue has arisen before?
    • Inconsistency. Is the decision inconsistent with any Waka Kotahi policy or established practice, such that someone affected might consider that they have been unfairly treated? This is particularly relevant where someone may have acted in reliance on that policy or established practice.

    The criteria and factors listed here are not exhaustive; a delegate should consider any other relevant factors applicable to the particular decision. If it is unclear what effects the decision may have, it should ordinarily be treated as more significant.

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Further guidance

Delegates should refer to the Delegations page on ONRAMP for further guidance in relation to the decision making process, or considering the assessment factors.

The following documents will be of particular assistance:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Conflict of Interest policy
  • Guide to applying the Significance Policy (which includes examples and assessment forms)
  • Risk Management Reference Guide (especially in relation to assessing the scale or impact of a decision, or how high a decision should be elevated)

If further assistance is required, please contact the Chief Risk Assurance or the Chief Legal Counsel.

Policy responsibility, effective and review dates

The Board is responsible for this policy and any amendments to it.

This policy is effective from 6 May 2016.

It  is due for review in 1 June 2018.