7.5 Infrastructure Service standards
Infrastructure service standards have recently come into prominence because of their association with the Australian Productivity Commission’s report ‘Public Infrastructure’ (Australian Productivity Commission 2014). While the report does not use the term, it is being applied in the context of the report as the base line against which the management of infrastructural assets is measured.
In its report Engineering Construction and Infrastructure in NSW (Kaspura 2015), the Institution of Engineers Australia made the following statements that aid understanding of what infrastructure service standards are:
- Effective utilisation of existing infrastructure assets cannot be guaranteed in the absence of transparent infrastructure service standards.
- Infrastructure service standards establish what infrastructure assets are physically capable of doing and provide the basis for benchmarks against which outcomes and value for money can be objectively measured.
- Infrastructure service standards assist in establishing the present status of infrastructure and the maintenance regimes necessary to ensure assets effectively attain planned economic lives.
- Infrastructure service standards define the type and quality of service that users can expect, the access arrangements for service provision and the basis on which services are provided.
- Effective service standards are essential to underpin infrastructure pricing regimes and to establish shadow prices in situations where infrastructure services are provided for free. These arrangements are necessary for demand management and to evaluate pressure points, including whether there is a genuine requirement for new infrastructure.
- Effective infrastructure service standards establish the basis for applying total systems approaches to infrastructure management and investment.
Infrastructure service standards help define the services that are delivered and help customers and road users understand what they should be receiving. Consequently, the performance of the organisation is measured and standards for the development, operation and maintenance of an infrastructure network are measured. Infrastructure service standards and levels of service are essentially the same thing, but with different emphasis on their application and described with slightly different wording.