Audit of over-budget police headquarters finds lack of oversight; survey states building provides value
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2014 5:00AM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, July 16, 2014 11:12AM CST
An audit into Winnipeg city hall’s handling of the new police headquarters found there was a lack of oversight that kept senior staff and councillors in the dark.
An audit and a quantity survey were ordered by city council after the price of the new headquarters ballooned by $75 million, climbing to a total cost of $210 million.
"Why was the original estimate so low and what lead to some of the recalculations?” asked Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital).
The audit stated the project had an inconsistent compliance with capital project management policies, the project reporting lacked detail to allow for effective oversight by staff and councillors and showed a lack of understanding of procurement policy.
"It sounds like the city has a third damning audit. I guess the city has a hat trick now," said Colin Craig from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Councillors learned last year that only 30 per cent of the building's drawings were complete when a final price tag was agreed upon.
The audit concluded this resulted in the actual final cost being heavily understated.
“Had the councillors had the full information from the public service, they might have chosen a different path to go down,” said Mayes.
The probe found no criminal wrongdoing in the deal. Councillors said it clears the police, showing the service wasn’t asking for any additions that would have driven up the price.
“There may have been a perception that the police service was doing things to drive up the cost and this audit says that is clearly not the case,” said Devon Clunis, Winnipeg police chief.
Despite the fact the price tag for the project skyrocketed, a separate survey concluded the city received value for money compared to other cities because the building, “is within the acceptable range of cost for a facility of this nature.”
“The answer to the question was, yes, the City of Winnipeg did get value for money,” said Mayor Sam Katz.
That, however, is little solace to some councillors critical of the handling of the project.
“When you establish a figure and you go way over - it doesn't matter what you say. You juggle the figures around and it looks good,” said Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre).
Both reports will be tabled and debated at a Winnipeg city council meeting on July 16.
Recommendations arising from the audit include making sure roles and responsibility of people involved in major projects are clearly defined, having more training for internal project managers and additional oversight for single-source contracts.
- with a report from Jeff Keele