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The Chief Executive Officer has a significant role in promoting good democratic governance. This is mainly seen in the way the Chief Executive Officer helps the council and councillors govern effectively.


The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has a number of responsibilities which are set out in Section 94 A of the Local Government Act 1989. These include establishing and maintaining an appropriate organisational structure for the council, managing interactions between council staff and Councillors, ensuring that Council decisions are implemented promptly, providing timely advice to Council, providing timely and reliable advice to the Council about its legal obligations, and overseeing the daily management of council operations following the Council Plan. The CEO is required to support the Mayor in his/her role and develop a code of conduct for council staff.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for appointing, managing, directing and dismissing council staff, and for all other issues that relate to staff.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for managing interactions between council staff and Councillors, including by ensuring that appropriate policies, practices and protocols are in place to define appropriate arrangements for interactions.

The CEO is also the main person to whom council delegates powers.


The CEO’s most important role is to promote a positive culture of good governance in the council administration. When the CEO is committed to the principles of democratic governance, council officers are far more likely to support good governance.

The CEO must help the administration understand the critical role of councillors and its council – councillors sit at the top of the local government structure and council is the legitimate decision-maker. If the CEO reinforces this idea, it will help council officers recognise that they are operating within the context of democratic governance.

Councillors should not be seen as simply an addition or, for that matter, an impediment to efficiency. Instead the administration needs to acknowledge that councillors have been elected by the community to represent its vision and goals.

How does the CEO promote good governance?

The CEO can support a culture of good democratic governance in various ways. These include:

  • regularly providing councillors with the information they need to fulfil their roles
  • ensuring that advice from the administration considers the political context which doesn’t mean playing politics but recognises that advice can have political implications
  • ensuring that council officers and councillors understand the structure of local government and their roles in it
  • providing support to the mayor and councillors when dealing with councillor conduct issues
  • helping ensure that all councillors have equal access to information and resources
  • providing appropriate support for good decision-making processes
  • developing processes for the major strategic planning exercises which ensure councillors have plenty of opportunities for input
  • recognising that councillors have a ‘representation’ role and that they will be advocating for individuals or communities at different times to ensure that the appropriate and legitimate support and structures are in place (this does not mean assisting councillors in any way with electioneering).

“The CEO is critical for good governance within the local government.”