Capital projects poorly run
(CNS): In his latest report the auditor general has raised concerns about how government manages major capital projects. Alastair Swarbrick used the new Government Office Administration Building (GOAB) and the high school projects as case studies and found a number of problems, from a lack business cases and undefined roles for politicians and administrative staff to problems with financial management practices and standards for how these projects should be built. He pointed to a waste of scarce resources and lack of accountability, though he did note some good practices during the construction of the GOAB.
“While there are problems with the government’s management framework for major capital projects, we found good practices used in the building of the Government Administration Building,” Swarbrick said on Thursday as his report was revealed to the public. “The government may wish to consider these for standard practice for the management of all future major capital projects.”
But with significant gaps and weaknesses in how government manages its spending on capital projects on the whole, he said the public was not getting value for money. The high school projects came in for considerable criticism by Swarbrick, who said his team found significant problems with project management.
The public auditor said the construction of the high schools was handed over to the Ministry of Education to build when it did not have the management expertise or experience to execute such a project. The lack of an experienced project manager together with the involvement of politicians in the conceptual design phase resulted in the projects being poorly managed and controlled.
“Government needs to ensure that effective and robust practices are in place across the public service to manage these significant capital projects to demonstrate due regard for value-for-money. We found it is left up to the individual ministries to determine how it is done,” he noted.
The auditor did find, however, that the procurement process was followed and in both cases the process was fair and transparent. But the company selected to construct the third high school in West Bay began work before a contract was signed, which ultimately resulted in significant costs to government when it was forced to stop the project as the economic downturn hit.
For more on the auditor general’s view of these key controversial projects and a full copy of the report check back to CNS later.
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