Dome report: catalogue of financial mismanagement

The report pointed to the ambitious visitor numbers, the complex management structure and inadequacies of financial management.

According to the report: ‘The systems in place, and the information available, have hindered the company’s ability to produce reliable financial forecasts.’

In addition, ‘The company has been unable to track and quantify fully the contractual commitments it has entered into.’

This was illustrated by the fact that unexpected liabilities of more than £5m, largely for working fitting out the Dome, only came to light between March and July this year.

The report added: ‘The company experienced difficulty in establishing the full extent of its liabilities through to solvent liquidation and handover to a new owner.’

While acknowledging the NMEC was working to address the weaknesses, the report revealed that concerns over financial control were repeatedly raised by the Millennium Commission and its advisers.

The commission first raised its concerns with Lord Falconer, the sole shareholder in the NMEC, in February of this year.

Lord Falconer responded to the criticisms though Bob Ayling, the former chairman of the NMEC, did not accept the concerns at the time.

The report also showed that the visitor number projections were wildly optimistic, and that when the original 12 million estimate had been used to justify the original budget in 1997, there was no clear indication of pricing policy, or indeed what the contents of the Dome would be.

The report concluded that the visitor target involved significant risk, and yet there was no agreement on contingency plans.

Sir John Bourn, comptroller and auditor general, said: ‘The targets were highly ambitious and inherently risky leading to a significant degree of financial exposure on the project. In addition, the task of managing the project has been complicated by the complex organisational arrangements put in place from the outset, and by the failure to establish sufficiently robust financial management.’

Although the report does not specifically blame any individuals, Lord Falconer faces renewed calls for his resignation.

David Davis, chairman of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, said the report ‘is a serious indictment of those involved with this ill-fated project.’The committee will next week be taking evidence from the key officials responsible for the Dome, including former FD of the NMEC, Neil Spence.

Watchdog blasts financial management at Dome

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